Monday, August 3, 2015

The Wayne Escoffery Quartet: The Music of Our Tenor Masters

Neighborhood Music School (NMS) presents the talented Wayne Escoffery Quartet: The Music of Our Tenor Masterson Tuesday, August 4, as part of the Twilight Tuesdays concert series in the Park of the Arts behind NMS at 100 Audubon St.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m.  Concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Rain or shine! Tickets are on sale now at and at the door.

The Quartet features NMS alumnus Wayne Escoffery, one of the jazz world’s most gifted rising stars, on tenor sax, along with celebrated musicians Danny Grissett on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Ralph Peterson on drums.

Escoffery, now a member of the Grammy winning Mingus Big Band as well as the world renowned Tom Harrell Quintet, has toured worldwide during his illustrious career, including with Jazz at Lincoln Center's Music of Masters, a group of musicians chosen by Wynton Marsalis to perform the music of Dexter Gordon and Miles Davis.

However, his passion for jazz began right here in New Haven on Audubon Street, where Wayne took private lessons at NMS, as well as studying at the Educational Center for the Arts (ECA).

“That’s where I started my formal study of the saxophone,” Escoffery says of his NMS lessons. “That’s where it all began.”

Returning to New Haven – a city where he saw some of his very first jazz concerts, including at the New Haven Jazz Festival – means a chance to inspire others the same way he was inspired in his youth.

“Both NMS and ECA were really the catalyst for what I’m doing now. I think it’s important to have programs like that,” Escoffery says. “Also, when you have an artist like myself who has attended the program and has gone on to be a professional, I think it’s important to come back and give back to the students, to give perspective on moving from New Haven to where I am right now.”

Jesse Hameen II, Chair of the Jazz and Rock department at NMS, says Escoffery’s accomplishments and connection to Audubon Street make this concert a very special event for the NMS community: “It is great to see that Neighborhood Music School, ECA and the New Haven jazz scene were instrumental in the growth and development of Wayne Escoffery and other fine musicians! That is a tribute to the efforts of qualified teachers and the people that have donated and supported Neighborhood Music School and the arts community in New Haven.”

As for the concert itself, Escoffery says he is excited about the atmosphere, the crowd and the music he has chosen especially for this occasion. “It’s awesome playing outside, a totally different feel and energy. It should be great. As far as the repertoire, I chose to do the music of our tenor saxophone masters because it’s important to me and important to the history of music. And personally, that’s some of my favorite music. I’m looking forward to it.”

Concert-goers are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner. BYOB is welcome!  Food will be available from local food trucks (The Meat Truck Co. and Ay! Arepa). NMS’s neighboring restaurant, Koffee?, will  also be open for food and is offering wine and beer for $6 per glass. The concert will be moved indoors in the event of rain.