Jazz saxophonist Grady Nichols, others highlight Charlie Christian International Music Festival on May 31-June 4

Tulsa saxophonist Grady Nichols has been added to the lineup of a concert featuring guitarist Kevin Eubanks. Eubanks, the former band leader for the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” will be performing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 2, 2011, at the Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker, in Oklahoma City, OK.
Anita G. Arnold, Executive Director of Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC), Inc., said that the 2011 Charlie Christian International Music Festival will feature fresh, new talent in the almost week-long event along with some familiar faces.  The outdoor festival that runs June 3 and 4 at Bi-Centennial Park will showcase the musical talents of 10 bands playing continuous music throughout the weekend.

NIKKI & DA MIXX and Brother Enoch are first timers at the festival.  NIKKI & DA MIXX, a hip, swinging group from Broken Arrow promises to “light your fire” with the sultry vocals of Nikki Washington Givens.  Brother Enoch whose founding members are Timothy Haverkamp, John Carter, and Boris Connally met and formed their musical trio at the University of Central Oklahoma in the spring of 2010.  Timothy is an accomplished pianist and composer who completed a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies.  John is an established and experienced percussionist and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.  Brother Boris is a saxophonist, clarinetist, and flutist with a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies.  Their eclectic style is a combination of jazz, R&B, soul, classical, hip-hop, gospel and blues.
Familiar faces at the festival include Taylor Made Jazz, Kelvin Drake (Mr. Guitar), James Slaw & Friends, Jeremy Thomas Band, Cara Black Band, 411 Band, and the two headliners, Lao Tizer on Friday Night and All Funk Radio Show on Saturday Night.
The Charlie Christian International Music Festival adds a new family friendly performance piece, Amazing Children on Saturday afternoon.  From 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., the festival attendees will have a rare opportunity to see gifted children from Oklahoma City perform amazing feats during “friendly” student competition in solving rubrics cube puzzles in approximately one minute from the Dove Science Academy Elementary School, martial arts performed by championship students from M. L. King, Jr. as well as ballroom dancing.  Wilson Arts Integration School students will showcase their excellent talents in instrumental and vocal music.  Ms. Arnold said, “Too often the public has a negative perception of students today and they never get to see the amazing things that students can do.  We are delighted to put the spotlight on such talent.”
Wristbands for the two-day event may be purchased now for $10 per day or both days for $17 at the following locations: BLAC Inc., Capitol Square Station, Charlie’s Jazz, Rhythm & Blues Store, City Cuts and Design Group, Hopkins Haircare, KM66 and Learning Tree Toy Store.  For more information, call (405) 524-3800 or go to http://www.charliechristianfestival.com/.
BLAC Inc. is running a week-long special discounted ticket sale from Thursday, May 26 – noon Wednesday, June 1 on main floor seats.  This is the highlight of the Community Engagement Program.  All $40 and $60 tickets to the Kevin Eubanks concert will sell for $30 each.  
Sponsors for the festival include BancFirst, Friends of the Oklahoma Historical Society Archives, Oklahoma Centennial Commission, OG &E and The Oklahoma City Chapter of the Links, EMSA, The City of Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Kevin Eubanks signs with Mack Avenue Records

Kevin Eubanks (Photo Credit: Raj Naik)

Mack Avenue Records recently announced the signing of guitarist Kevin Eubanks. The former leader of the Tonight Show Band is set to release Zen Food on Nov. 23, 2010, his debut for the label and first project since his Tonight Show departure. 
“It’s so refreshing to find a record label that feels ‘right’ from so many aspects,” said Eubanks, who completed his final and 18th season of The Tonight Show in May. “Mack Avenue Records is the company I’ve been hoping to find to release the music I’ve been wanting to play.” 
“When Kevin first announced that he was departing the Tonight Show with a desire to record and tour again I knew he would be an ideal artist for us,” says Mack Avenue Records President Denny Stilwell in a news release. “He is a musician of uncompromising artistry who has chosen an opportune moment to re-establish his roots in jazz and Mack Avenue is honored to be working with him.”
Over his 30-year career, Eubanks has performed with esteemed musicians such as Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Roy Haynes, Slide Hampton, Sam Rivers, Dave Holland, Greg Osby, and Jean Luc Ponty, among others. In 1992, Eubanks moved to the West Coast to assume the guitar spot in the Tonight Show Band and become the band’s leader from 1995 – 2010.
Hailing from a musical family (distinguished uncles, pianist Ray Bryant and bassist Tommy Bryant, and brothers, trombonist Robin Eubanks and trumpeter Duane Eubanks), the Philadelphia native and Berklee College of Music alumni has appeared on more than 100 albums, with releases on Elektra, GRP and Blue Note; as well as founding his own record label, Insoul Music.