John Coltrane 96th Birthday Celebration -A Memorable First Night

On the first day of the John Coltrane 96th Birthday Celebration, there was a communal aspect to the event. People came together for the first time in many months as we get used to a still somewhat cautious post-pandemic world. Kudos to the Pappy Martin Legacy Jazz Collective and the Burchfield Penney Art Center for creating a welcoming atmosphere for all of us to enjoy.

The early evening was highlighted by a social gathering featuring the faculty of the Love Supreme School of Music band led by Marcus Lolo. They entertained with energetic renditions of John Coltrane and Miles Davis tunes. For instance, a captivating group performance of “So What.” And, we got to hear the developing vocals of saxophonist Dalton Sharp.

The evening moved to the auditorium and we were treated to a passionate performance by the George Caldwell Quintet. Which featured two-time winner of the JazzBuffalo Poll Female Vocalist of the Year Alex McArthur. The quintet, led by George Caldwell on piano, featured Jeff Campbell on bass, Sean Jefferson on drums, and Griffith Kazmierczak on trumpet. All performed magnificently! Highlights included:

  • Griffith’s stirring trumpet on the Beatle’s tune “She’s Leaving Home”
  • A superb arrangement of “Summertime” with outstanding improvisational vocals by Alex McArthur
  • George Caldwell’s piano musicianship on Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood” accompanied by the beautiful vocals of Alex McArthur
  • Great solos by Jeff Campbell on bass
  • Sean Jefferson’s masterful touch on cymbals and brushes as well as timing

Alex McArthur displayed elevated maturity and command last night which has been a joy to see develop over the years. The stellar ensemble led by Caldwell lifted her to new heights last night and brought out the best in her talents.

Also a welcomed return to the area by trumpeter Griffith Kazmierczak (aka Griff Kaz). A gifted musician who helps elevates the superb pool of next-generation jazz musicians making our jazz scene vibrant.

Many thanks to Dawn Berry-Walker and her team for keeping the legacy of this birthday celebration, started by her father Pappy Martin many years ago, alive and memorable. Wonderful to see the gracious hosting and production support from Sonny Baker, Julia Norris, John Malinowski, Tiffany Gaines, Kim Luangpadky, Miggie Wong, and the entire Burchfield Penney team.

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