Jazz for the weekend

Student and professional musicians to perform Saturday and Sunday in Wilde Lake


Howard Live


The jazz musicians performing at the James Rouse Theater this weekend are coming from Boston, New York, Washington and Canada. They are at varying stages of their careers, from high school performers to Grammy-nominated professionals. And some will meet for the first time on Saturday.

Yet the performers - the Wilde Lake Jazz Band, the Canadian musicians Jane Bunnett and her husband Larry Cramer, two musicians from Washington, a New York vibraphonist and a student in Boston - share a number of connections.

The headliner is Bunnett, a Grammy nominee and two-time winner of the Juno, Canada's equivalent of a Grammy, who is known for her Cuban-jazz fusion sounds. She'll play the soprano saxophone and flute, and Cramer will play trumpet.

Joining the pros will be bass player Pepe Gonzalez and drummer Nasar Abadey, both from Washington.

Also on stage will be two Wilde Lake alums - James Shipp, a New York-based vibraphonist, and Alex Brown, a jazz piano major at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. And, of course, the 18-member Wilde Lake Jazz Band.

The shows are scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the James Rouse Theater. The Wilde Lake Jazz Band will perform a couple of introductory pieces, then the professional musicians will take the stage. For a finale, the student band will perform with the pros.

Bunnett said meeting and playing with musicians she hasn't met is part of the fun.

"Generally, we jazz musicians thrive on that kind of environment, of playing with people we sometimes haven't played with," she said.

Lou Dutrow, director of the Wilde Lake band, said this is the second year the high school band has performed with professional musicians. Last year, he said, the performer was "the great Latin flutist Dave Valentine."

The event was organized by Jill Lapides, the band's publicist and the mother of pianist Alex Brown and Zach Brown, a Wilde Lake sophomore who is in the jazz band. She said established musicians commonly play with ones who are just starting out, and even Grammy-nominated musicians such as Bunnett play with high school bands. "It's such a friendly community," she said.

The Brown brothers know Gonzalez and Abadey through previous performances, Lapides said. Gonzalez directed an ensemble that Alex Brown performed in, and Abadey worked at a camp attended by Zach, she said.

Alex Brown took piano lessons with Stanley Cowell, a renowned musician based in Washington. Cowell, in turn, has worked with Bunnett and Cramer, and he's the one who introduced the Canadian musicians to Alex Brown.

"I've done recording and some concerts with Stanley Cowell," Bunnett said. "He's just a marvelous musician and talent. ... He had told me about Alex Brown, what a wonderful young musician Alex was."

She played with the young pianist at a jam session in Colorado and kept in touch with his family, she said. She was pleased to receive the invitation to play with the Wilde Lake band.

"You just go where the concerts are," she said. "We're really, really looking forward to it."

Tickets are $15 advance and $20 at the door. They can be purchased at instantseats.com; ticketleap.com; at both the Ellicott City and Cherry Tree locations of Music and Arts, or by calling 410-997-2070.

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