Affordable and convenient: Jazz at Noon in Kalamazoo AND Battle Creek

March 30, 2024

Jazz lovers in two cities have a terrific opportunity to enjoy five noontime jazz concerts in either Kalamazoo or Battle Creek during the Festival. Convenient and affordable, the Jazz at Noon series runs May 6-10 with tickets just $18. Save 15% when you purchase a ticket for all five shows, or bring five friends to one show! Each of five ascending jazz piano talents will play in each town. 

Launching the series in Kalamazoo on Monday, May 6, will be returning Gilmore friend Isaiah J. Thompson, winner of the prestigious 2023 American Pianists Awards. A prodigious talent who has graced stages worldwide, he will bring his mesmerizing compositions and virtuoso skills to the venerable Kalamazoo Civic Theatre. He will be joined by sidemen Matthew Lee and Barry Stephenson. Lee, a senior at The Juilliard School, channels mentorship from legends like Christian McBride, while  Stephenson’s dynamic bass playing adds depth and groove to the ensemble. They will perform in Battle Creek on May 7.

Helen Sung will start her Gilmore visit on May 6, performing at the Kool Family Community Center in Battle Creek, and in Kalamazoo the next day. A Steinway Artist and graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, Sung has garnered acclaim for her performances alongside jazz luminaries like Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Terri Lyne Carrington. She will be joined by bassist Reuben Rogers, informed by gospel and the rhythms of his native Virgin Islands, and Adam Cruz adding dynamic energy with his extensive experience performing with jazz icons like Danilo Perez and Chick Corea. 

The visionary pianist and composer Shai Maestro brings his quartet to Kalamazoo Tuesday, May 7 and Battle Creek on May 8. Renowned for his imaginative compositions and sonic explorations, Maestro transports audiences to new realms with his mesmerizing music. Acclaimed sidemen accompanying him include trumpeter Philip Dizack, who has performed worldwide alongside jazz legends, and drummer Ofri Nehemya, providing the heartbeat of the music. Rounding out the ensemble are bassist Jorge Roeder, with his symphonic imagination and Afro-Peruvian roots, bringing a rich tapestry of sound to the mix.  

Experience the fusion of traditional jazz with global rhythms on May 9 with Grammy®-nominee and Steinway Artist Benito Gonzalez and his trio at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre. Hailing from Venezuela, Gonzalez’s musical journey has been shaped by traditional folk music and the pioneering jazz styles of Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner. Joining him will be drummer Jaylen K. Petinaud, known for his collaborations with jazz icons like Herbie Hancock and Kenny Garrett, and bassist Will Slater, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music. This will be a rich and captivating Latin-infused jazz concert that will travel to Battle Creek the next day.

May 9 will also see LA-based pianist and composer Paul Cornish playing in Battle Creek before his second date in Kalamazoo the next day. Cornish earned a master’s degree from the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz at UCLA and the Grand Prize in the American Jazz Piano Competition. Alongside him will be bassist Emma Dayhuff, a Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance graduate, who has performed with Herbie Hancock and Cécile McLorin Salvant, and drummer Jonathan Pinson, who has also performed with Herbie Hancock.    

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