A. Cortes Rex Jr. BLAC Inc. Black Liberated Arts Center Inc. Charlie Christian International Music Festival festivals James Cleveland jazz festivals Oklahoma Oklahoma City performances United States

Rev. Dr. A. Cortes Rex Jr. featured in Charlie Christian International Music Festival in June

Rev. Dr. A. Cortes Rex Jr.

The Rev. Dr. A. Cortes Rex Jr. of Los Angeles is scheduled to appear in Oklahoma City on June 3, 2012, during the 27th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival. The gospel concert, a tribute to the late Rev. James Cleveland, founder of the Gospel Music Workshops of America, will be held at 5 p.m. at Frederick A.Douglass Auditorium.

Rex, a friend of Cleveland, said in a recent news release, he recalled that during the formative years of his singing ministry, he was influenced by Cleveland, Clara Ward and Allie B. Anderson (his grandfather), Aretha Franklin and many others. Rex never dreamed that he would meet Rev. Cleveland and someday do a show in tribute to a man whose songs touched him and many others.

Born in Wichita, Kan., Rex grew up in Tulsa, OK, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School. Following graduation, he attended Langston University, where he graduated in 1980 with honors and was voted the Most Talented Male in his senior year. He later pursued a Masters of Administration Degree at California State University at Dominguez Hills in Long Beach, Calif.

He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and is the president and producer of Signs
and Wonders Inc. Rex sang background for live performances and recording sessions with well-known gospel and secular artists. He received the City of Los Angeles Motown Award in  April 2008. He was nominated to the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 2009.

 Rex will perform the show, “A Tribute to Rev. James Cleveland” and will be joined by Gospel Music Workshops of Oklahoma musicians and other special guests. Tickets are $10 and $15 for VIP seats. For more information, call Black Liberated Arts Center Inc. at (405) 524-3800.

The Charlie Christian International Music Festival is sponsored by BLAC Inc., Friends of the Oklahoma City/County Historical Society and Oklahoma Arts Council and Integris Health.

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Esperanza Spalding, Diana Krall & Trombone Shorty to perform at the 35th annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival

Esperanza Spalding,
Credit: Carlos Pericás

Esperanza Spalding, Diana Krall and Trombone Shorty will be performing at the 35th annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, scheduled on Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1, 2012, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, 108 Avenue of the Pines in Saratoga Springs, NY.

ESPERANZA SPALDING – Just one year after taking home a Grammy Award in the Best New Artist category, the bassist/vocalist performed a beautiful rendition of “What a Wonderful World” alongside the Southern California Children’s Choir at the 2012 84th Oscar Academy Awards in Los Angeles on February 26. She will perform on June 30.
 Diana Krall,
Credit: Courtesy of Artist
DIANA KRALL – The world-renowned artist and and one of the best-selling jazz vocalists of all time recently appeared with Paul McCartney on the 2012 Grammy Awards telecast in Los Angeles on February 12.  She will perform on July 1.
TROMBONE SHORTY – The New Orleans native trombone/trumpet phenomenon recently participated in a PBS televised performance at The White House as a part of the Black History Month celebration in Washington, D.C., on February 21.  Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue will perform on July 1.

Trombone Shorty,
 Credit: Jane Richey
For more information on the 35th annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, go to
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Detroit Jazz Festival announces addition of Karriem Riggins, Common to 2011 festival lineup


In a recent news release, organizers of the Detroit Jazz Festival are pleased to announce an exciting addition to the festival lineup-a special collaboration with Detroit native drummer Karriem Riggins and hip hop artist Common on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011.

“This extraordinary presentation of jazz and hip hop gives the festival an opportunity to step out of the box and attract a new audience while maintaining the connection to the festival’s artistic core – jazz,” said Terri Pontremoli, festival artistic director. “The connections and gaps between the two genres will be celebrated on Labor Day on the JPMorgan Chase Stage.”
This kind of project is not unusual for Riggins, who has spent the better part of his career successfully straddling the two worlds of jazz and hip-hop. The Detroit native established his jazz chops under the tutelage of Betty Carter, Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson, Mulgrew Miller and Kenny Burrell. In addition to being a mainstay in Diana Krall’s quartet, he has made a name for himself in hip hop circles as a producer and collaborator with the likes of Common, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, The Roots, Slum Village and Kanye West.
Common rose to prominence as one of hip hop’s most poetic and respected lyricists, having recorded over eight albums and garnering multiple Grammy Awards. The album Be with Kanye West garnered four Grammy nominations, and the Grammy award-winning Finding Forever debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 Album Chart. His ninth album, The Believer, The Dreamer, will be released in November 2011.
Other special guests joining Common and Riggins will be announced at a later date. For more information on Karriem Riggins, go to
For the full 2011 Detroit Jazz Festival artist roster, visit

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Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival presents U.S. debut of “Sing The Truth!”

(From left to right: Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright)

According to a recent news release, Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in Saratoga Springs, New York, will present the U.S. debut of Sing The Truth!, a new production that honors the music and spirit of great women of jazz, folk, R&B, gospel and the blues.  Featuring African-born songstress Angelique Kidjo, pre-eminent jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves, and genre-defying jazz singer Lizz Wright, this meeting of three critically-acclaimed, powerhouse vocalists will pay musical tribute to the legacies of three recently departed, iconic female artists: South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba, American jazz vocalist, actress, civil rights and political activist Abbey Lincoln, and “the Voice of the Civil Rights Movement,” American folk musician and human rights activist Odetta.  Sing The Truth! will also feature songs by other great women of music, ranging from Billie Holiday to Aretha Franklin, Joan Armatrading and Lauryn Hill, along with original songs.
The original Sing The Truth! premiered as a 2004 JVC Jazz Festival concert at Carnegie Hall, New York City, and celebrated the music of Nina Simone. 

The all-star Sing The Truth! ensemble for the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival performance will feature Geri Allen on piano and keyboards, music director Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, James Genus on bass, Munyungo Jackson on percussion, and Romero Lubambo on guitars.  This remarkable group of musicians will go everywhere and anywhere that Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright feel the music takes them.  The audience will be along for a memorable ride.
Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center runs from Saturday, June 25 to Sunday, June 26, 2011.  Other artists scheduled to appear include Michael McDonald, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Dee Dee Bridgewater, George Wein & the Newport All Stars, Donald Harrison, Jr., The Bad Plus, Ben Allison, Marcus Strickland, and many more.  For the complete lineup of artists and performances, go to
Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival is produced by SPAC and Absolutely Live Entertainment.
Located in scenic Saratoga Springs, New York, Saratoga Performing Arts Center has been the site of the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival since George Wein established it in 1978.  With an inside seating capacity of 5,200, lawn seating of 20,000, world class talent and just three hours driving time from either Boston or New York City, SPAC’s Jazz Festival draws thousands of jazz lovers from across the Northeast and the United States.