MIDDLEBURY — The Miles Donahue Quintet featuring Joey Calderazzo of the Branford Marsalis Quartet returns to Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts on Sunday, March 8, at 7 p.m.
The free concert is being staged to help promote Jazz Appreciation Month, albeit a little early to accommodate the touring schedule of Calderazzo, a jazz pianist who travels extensively with the Branford Marsalis Quartet. Musicians around the country will promote Jazz Appreciation Month in April.
Sunday’s show, like a similar Miles Donahue gig at the college, will feature a lineup of major talents. The brightest light arguably is Calderazzo, who is celebrating 10 years with the quartet and the release of “Metamorphosen,” a new CD on BMQ records. Prior to working with Branford Marsalis, Calderazzo played and toured with the late Michael Brecker.
Donahue explained that the large audience that showed up at last year’s concert and his love of “Joey’s ability to play with incredible lyricism or bone-crushing energy” prompted him to schedule the concert for March even though it fell outside the official Jazz Awareness Month. This is the fourth concert Miles has performed at the Mahaney Art Center and true to form each one has had different personnel.
“I want to bring in some of the great musicians I know from the New York and Boston areas and I want to give each concert its own unique sound,” Donahue said. “This year I’ve added Gary Valente, a jazz trombonist to the mix. Most people, when they think of jazz trombone, think of Dixieland. Gary is a more straight-ahead type of player. He has performed, toured and recorded with Carla Bley and recorded with George Russell’s Big Band. The addition of this type of trombone may surprise people.”
The quintet will be rounded out by John Lockwood on bass and Marcello Pellitteri on drums. Lockwood is an instructor of music at Berklee College of Music in Boston and has toured the U.S. and Europe with Joe Henderson, Freddy Hubbard, Gary Burton and the Mel Lewis Big Band. Pellitteri is another Berklee staff member; he has played with Kenny Baron, Joe Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, Pat Methany and others.
Donahue teaches saxophone at Middlebury College and has 10 albums to his credit. Artist Direct Music says, “On both trumpet and sax Donahue projects a quiet strength; he swings, but often in an introspective, reflective lyrical fashion.”
Like many musicians Donahue’s first jazz recording was on a European label, Timeless Records. “Double Dribble” helped launch Donahue’s recording career. His most recent release, “Bounce,” features Calderazzo on piano.
The quartet promises a great kickoff to Jazz Appreciation Month and as Donahue put it, “This great American art form should be appreciated 12 months a year.”