Theo Croker Quintet JTC

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Theo Croker Quintet

Billy Taylor Jazz Residency

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 7:30PM
Bowker Auditorium

Theo Croker is a young trumpeter, singer, and bandleader who has earned the attention of top musicians. Produced by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Croker’s most recent recording, Escape Velocity, is a sprawling, genre-bending journey through bop, soul, funk, R&B, and beyond. He brings his quintet to the FAC for an evening of inspired music.

Ticket Prices
$35, $25; Five College Students & Youth 17 and Under $10; Under40TIX $25
Please call the Box Office to see if you or someone in your party is eligible for a discount.
Accessible Seating Available by calling the Box Office at 413-545-2511

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Trumpeter, composer, and arranger Theo Croker is an adventurous musician, at home playing standards, swinging post-bop, and more groove-oriented electric jazz. A Florida native, he has been playing trumpet since age 11, when he heard his late grandfather, trumpeter Doc Cheatham, play in New York City. Croker studied at the music conservatory at Oberlin College, where he earned the Presser Music Foundation Award, which funded his debut album, 2006’s Fundamentals. After graduating, Croker took up residency at Shanghai’s House of Blues, returning in 2013. He has released In the Tradition, a tribute to his grandfather, the Dee Dee Bridgewater–produced Afro Physicist, and his latest, Escape Velocity, which was ranked the #1 Jazz Album in the UK by Echoes Magazine. He recently lent his inimitable talents to J. Cole’s latest release on title track “4 Your Eyez Only”, as well as “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Ville Mentality”. He is also featured on Common’s newest album, Black America Again.

Thanks to his grandfather, Doc Cheatham, and former teacher legendary jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd, Croker is an artist steeped in jazz tradition. His own music reveals a love of organic funk, soul, and gooey, groove-oriented hip-hop. While he divines inspiration from Byrd’s 1970s albums, there’s nothing retro about his own bass-and-drum-heavy sound. And although his creative vision is a hybridized, cross-pollinated take on jazz, he remains at his core an exploratory improvisationalist.

Helping to raise Croker’s musical vibrations is his ensemble, a group he’s played with for several years, featuring saxophonist Anthony Ware, keyboardist Michael King, guitarist Ben Eunson, bassist Eric Wheeler, and drummer Kassa Overall. Also adding color to the proceedings are guitarist Femi Temowo and saxophonist Irwin Hall.

“Croker has a rare knack for walking the tightrope between straight-ahead jazz and popular modern styles, while never seeming to betray either one.” CapitalBop


“Croker has the tools, the intelligence, the ability, and the talents.” Wynton Marsalis


“There are good, great, and nice musical players, but then there are phenomenal instrumentalists such as Theo. I would place Theo in a class of musicians who will redirect the flow, change and alter the current of today’s New Jazz.” Donald Byrd
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Cameron Carpenter
Cameron Carpenter: International Touring Organ

Friday, April 27 at 8 p.m.
Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, Chamber Seating

Cameron Carpenter is smashing the stereotypes of organists and organ music, and all the while generating international acclaim unprecedented in his field. Carpenter’s repertoire—including the complete works of J. S. Bach, film scores, and original compositions and hundreds of transcriptions and arrangements—is probably the largest and most diverse of any organist. “Extravagantly talented… the audience’s response was raucous… everything he touches turns fantastical and memorable.” The New York Times

The Message
The Message
Donald Harrison, Billy Pierce, Brian Lynch, Sullivan Fortner, Carl Allen and Essiet Essiet

Thursday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Fine Arts Center Concert Hall

The Message includes mostly former Jazz Messengers, the banner under which Art Blakey organized some of the most iconic bands in jazz history. The Message has toured occasionally over the years, when these busy jazz frontiersmen come together to revisit their hard-bop roots. The band's musical focus is arrangements of Jazz Messenger pieces composed by some of the most esteemed musical tunesmiths in the jazz canon: Wayne Shorter, Cedar Walton, Benny Golson, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, with a sprinkling of band originals out of the Messenger's swingin', hard-bop tradition.

Pre-show talk in Bowker Auditorium at 6:30pm

Chris Potter
Chris Potter Quartet

Saturday, April 7 at 8 p.m.
Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, Chamber Seating

A world-class soloist, accomplished composer, and formidable bandleader, saxophonist Chris Potter has emerged as a leading light of his generation. DownBeat called him “one of the most studied (and copied) saxophonists on the planet.” All About Jazz wrote, “Among Potter’s many gifts are his sense of narrative and body language. In a live setting, one can appreciate the architecture of both his tunes and his solos, all while marveling at the sheer musculature of his relationship to the reed.”

Pre-show talk with Chris Potter in the Concert Hall Lobby at 6:15 pm.



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