Brattleboro Reformer



Featuring selections from Porgy and Bess in the spirit of

the 1958 Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaboration

Samirah Evans and the George Kaye Quintet will make summertime living easy with a jazz concert featuring the music of George Gershwin at Historic Memorial Hall in Wilmington, Vermont. Show time is at 8:00pm on Saturday, July 30.

Vocalist Evans and bassist Kaye will be joined by Miro Sprague (piano), Michael Zsoldos (reeds), Eric Miller (trombone) and Claire Arenius (drums). The first set will consist of Gershwin's popular jazz standards, while the second set will feature selections from the composer's opera, "Porgy and Bess" covered in the style of the 1958 recording of the work by Miles Davis with the Gil Evans Orchestra.

Tickets are $18.00 in advance and $20.00 the evening of the performance. Advance tickets can be purchased on the web site. Doors will open at 7:00pm. Historic Memorial Hall is located at 14 West Main Street in downtown Wilmington, Vermont.

Evans and Kaye have played together numerous times since she moved to the area from New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. Kaye says it was during a long car ride to a gig several years ago that the idea for this program was originally conceived.

"It was a three hour drive each way to a wedding in upstate New York. Sam and I just started talking about music and I told her how much I loved 'Porgy and Bess,'" Kaye recalls. "We listened to tunes from the opera recordings and then compared them with the Gil Evans/Miles Davis collaboration. What a great way to pass the time on the road!"

Kaye was in the midst of getting his master's degree in Jazz Arranging and Composing at the University of Massachusetts at the time. He had immersed himself in the nuances of the opera and how Gil Evans approached it as an arranger when working with Miles Davis and a 20 piece orchestra. He said he relished the challenge of re-interpreting the music for a smaller group with Evans's voice in the role of the legendary jazz trumpeter.

"First, we found the right players with the right spirit to do this. Second, it's Gershwin; the music is loaded with counter-melodies that are as memorable as the primary melodies, so there was plenty to pass around the band," says Kaye, who says they are essentially covering the original album. "We're keeping with Gil Evan's approach of what was swung, what are literal melodies, and what is improvisation to present the spirit and feel of this fabulous recording."

Evans says she is excited to present something altogether different than the swampy mix of jazz, soul, and rhythm and blues to which her fans are accustomed, and calls the program "the greatest challenge" of her career.

"I've been putting my nose to the grindstone to learn the parts and approximate the charted lines performed by Miles," Evans says. It has been a tremendous growth experience for me and I chose the right musical director and a stellar aggregation of musicians. I'm quite honored to share the joy of this work with them and with audience members."

Samirah Evans was a fixture on the New Orleans music scene for more than 15 years before relocating to Brattleboro, Vermont in the wake of hurricane Katrina. She formed Samirah Evans & Her Handsome Devils in 2007 and has performed at clubs, concert halls and music festivals throughout the northeast. In 2011, Evans released her third recording, Hot Club: Live at the Vermont Jazz Center (Misha Records). She has shared stages with legendary artists James Brown, B.B. King, Irma Thomas, Sheila Jordan, Terence Blanchard, and Donald Harrison, Jr., among others in her career, and has toured Europe, Asia and South America as a headliner. Evans is the curator of the "Ladies in Jazz" series at the Arts Block in Greenfield, Massachusetts and teaches vocal technique and performance both privately and as member of the faculty at Williams College.



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