December 1, 2016 by Helen Borgers

You are running out of time to get your tickets to our Jingle Jazz concert!  It’s THIS SUNDAY, December 4th, at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.  It’s a rare opportunity to see so many of today’s best jazz musicians in one place at one time.

The Clayton Brothers Quintet features five giants. The two leaders have been featured many times in my blogs and are well-known to KJazz listeners, so a brief mention of some of their many accomplishments will serve as reminders of how lucky we are to have them with us for Jingle Jazz!

But in case you are not as familiar with the other three performers, I’ve also included here some background and music in support of my claim that this concert should not be missed! This is one of those nights people will wish they were there for. And YOU can be! Tickets are available HERE.

Reedman Jeff Clayton left college to go on tour with Stevie Wonder and never looked back!  He’s always played with superstars, including Ray Charles, B.B. King, Dianne Reeves, Joe Cocker, the Count Basie Orchestra, and Ella Fitzgerald. Grammy Award winning arranger and bassist John Clayton has played with everyone from the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (he was the Principal Bassist for 5 years) to Count Basie to Paul McCartney!

On drums is Obed Calvaire, who, like John Clayton, has spent a lot of time playing with Monty Alexander’s trio. Monty hails from Jamaica, and Obed’s parents are from Haiti, so they both feel comfortable going in and out of swing, bop, and Caribbean rhythms, often all in one tune!

Drummer Obed Calvaire with Monty Alexander on piano and Hassan Shakur on bass (Hassan is the son of the late, great pianist, Gerald Wiggins...look at Hassan's face and you can see "Wig" smiling back!)

Obed Calvaire with the Monty Alexander Trio Live at Jazz at Lincoln Center 2016 - "Sinatra at 100"

However, Obed has quite a diverse resume. In high school, he played in the Grammy Band, directed by Justin DiCioccio, who was also the drum chair of the Manhattan School of Music, which led Obed to attend that prestigious institution when he graduated from high school. By the time he received his Master’s degree, he was ready for anything!  He has played in such varied situations as backing singers such as Mark Murphy, Mary J. Blige, and Lizz Wright, to cutting-edge ensembles such as the S.F. Jazz Collective, to Latin jazz with Eddie Palmieri, and straight-ahead big bands led by Roy Hargrove, Bob Mintzer, and Wynton Marsalis, as well as bands with Monty Alexander, Joshua Redman, Stefon Harris, and The Clayton Brothers.

Terell Stafford plays trumpet in the Quintet. Really all you need to know about Terell is that no less a talent than McCoy Tyner said, Terell is “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player.” That praise is well-earned as Terell has played in the bands led by so many of the giants of McCoy’s generation, including McCoy’s own Sextet, Kenny Barron’s Quintet, Jimmy Heath’s Quintet and Big Band, Benny Golson’s Sextet, and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Alumni Band. Although he is the leader of his own Quintet, the Managing and Artistic Director of the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, and a full-time jazz educator (he is the Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University), Terell finds time to play on his own and other players’ albums – over 130 of them! Truly an equal among those who inspired him, from Clifford Brown to Wynton Marsalis! 

Here he is on his last year’s release in tribute to Lee Morgan, Brotherlee Love, featuring Tim Warfield on saxophone, Bruce Barth on piano, and Peter Washington on bass, and Dana Hall on drums.

Terell Stafford with his Quintet, featuring the late Mulgrew Miller at the piano! 

I’ve saved Eric Reed for the last because he is a special guest. John’s son, Gerald, is their regular pianist, but as he is on tour back east and is unable to join us, Eric was invited. Not only had he just been playing with John a few weeks ago in a night of Spirituals and Hymns, but back in the days before he moved to New York, he used to perform with the Clayton Brothers.

Eric moved here from Philadelphia when he was 11. By his late teens, Eric was performing with all of L.A.’s giants, including Teddy Edwards, Buddy Collette, Billy Higgins, Gerald Wilson, and The Clayton Brothers.

It was Wynton Marsalis who discovered the young Eric, when he was teaching a master class at a school Eric attended (which is now the Colburn School). He said, “Eric had great ears and already had formed his musical personality. He had a phenomenal level of talent for his age; I’ve only met four or five musicians with that extreme ability.”  At 18, while attending Cal State Northridge, Eric toured with Wynton, and a year later, he officially joined the Marsalis Septet. Shortly thereafter, he joined and recorded with The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, moving to New York in 1990.  

Eric Reed from his recording, Pure Imagination, here's "Maria," with Brian Bromberg on bass and Gregory Hutchinson on drums. 


Eric leading an all-star ensemble in tribute to Cedar Walton, live at Dizzy's. Terrell Stafford is on trumpet!

Over the years, Eric has performed with a diverse group of heavyweights, including Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Carter, Clark Terry, Elvin Jones, Ron Carter, Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves, and Irvin Mayfield! He has led his own ensembles and recorded many albums, both as a leader and a sideman.  

Now once again living in L.A., he is reuniting this Sunday with his old friends, The Clayton Brothers. It will be a unique night of 5 individual giants bringing their collective swing, bop, spiritual, and world music experiences for an exciting holiday celebration. Please join us! 

Tickets are only available through KJazz membership, by phone at 310-478-5061 (ask for Mkenzi) or online at jazzandblues.org.

On-air personality, Helen Borgers, can be heard on KJazz 88.1 FM from 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday. As a jazz broadcaster, Helen has been invited to give pre-concert lectures at various performing arts centers, served on panels in jazz conventions all over the world, and lectured about the history of jazz in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. She has also written articles for international jazz publications and regularly emcees concerts, festivals, and club dates throughout southern California.

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