River City Jazz Masters

2018-2019 Lineup




John Scofield’s Combo 66


October 4, 2018

Iconic Grammy Award winning guitarist John Scofield teams up with pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Vicente Archer, and drummer Bill Stewart in Combo 66, a new band that builds upon Scofield’s long legacy of masterful improvisation and stylistic diversity. Since the late 1970’s, Scofield has been a major influence on jazz, continuously finding new and exciting avenues to reinvent himself as an artist. In recent years, Scofield won two consecutive Best Jazz Album Grammy Awards for Past Present and Country For Old Men – for which he also won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental solo – and has received resounding critical acclaim for his 2017 release Hudson with all-star bandmates Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, and John Medeski. Now, joined by three formidable artists in their own right, Scofield’s new band showcases an intricate interpretation of jazz’s limitless direction.

Joey Defrancesco + The People


November 28, 2018

Raised in Philadelphia, this is where the foundation of his musical roots in Jazz, Blues and other musical art forms were born. To hear Joey DeFrancesco today, his music embodies the traditional art form infused with a distinct modern approach, just part of what makes his music unmistakably his own.

DeFrancesco has recorded and/or toured with his own groups as well as numerous renowned artists that include Ray Charles, Diana Krall, Nancy Wilson, George Benson, James Moody, John Scofield, Bobby Hutcherson, Jimmy Cobb, John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell, David Sanborn and many more. The four time Grammy® Award-nominee, with more than 30 recordings as a leader under his belt, has received countless Jazz Journalist Association awards and other accolades worldwide, including being inducted into the inaugural Hammond Organ Hall of Fame in 2014, the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame in 2016 as well as topping the Critics Polls in DownBeat Magazine eleven times over the past fifteen years and the Readers Polls every year since 2005. DeFrancesco also hosts a weekly program on SiriusXM Radio's Real Jazz channel titled "Organized." 

2018 sees DeFrancesco touring in support of his Grammy nominated record, Project Freedom, as well as select concert dates celebrating the collaborative recording with iconic recording artist Van Morrison, titled "You're Driving Me Crazy."



Etienne Charles Creole Soul


February 27, 2019

"Jazz is Creole music," says Charles who was born in Trinidad, relocated first to Florida and then New York to further his jazz studies (graduating, respectively, from Florida State's and Juilliard's jazz programs) and today teaches jazz trumpet at Michigan State University. "As a person in the new world, I've been influenced by so much music. And my family has a mixed background, with French Caribbean, Spanish and African roots as well as Venezuelan influences. I come from a fusion of rhythms, a fusion of cultures. That's what this album is all about: focusing on soul music that is Creole at heart."

As befitting an artist who excels with such a diversity of musical styles, Charles has performed with a range of musicians, from Roberta Flack, Rene Marie and David Rudder to Wynton Marsalis, Johnny Mandel, the Count Basie Orchestra and Maria Schneider. He also worked with steel pan all-star Len "Boogsie" Sharpe as well as jazz masters Frank Foster and Benny Golson.

Charles was taught by one of his mentors, primo jazz pianist and Florida State professor Marcus Roberts, that "going backwards is the only way to go forward." So, while the 10-song Creole Soul is steeped in the jazz tradition, the spirit of the Caribbean also drives it. The young trumpeter, in addition to composing six originals, delivers his unique spin on Creole-oriented tunes from past masters, ranging from Bob Marley to Thelonious Monk. The album—at turns, rootsy, spicy and grooving—features at its core Charles' crisp trumpet intonation and his lucid melodic lines. Joining the leader for the Creole music adventure is Charles' band, comprised of tenor saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart, alto saxophonist Brian Hogans, Kris Bowers on piano and Fender Rhodes, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Obed Calvaire. Guests include vocalist Erol Josué, guitarist Alex Wintz and percussionist/vocalists Daniel Sadownick and D'Achee.

Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour


March 28, 2019

The MJF on Tour 60th Anniversary Edition features a top roster of diverse and international millennial talent and the leaders of jazz’s future, including Cécile McLorin Salvant, vocals; Bria Skonberg, trumpet, vocals; Melissa Aldana, tenor saxophone; Christian Sands, piano and musical director; Jamison Ross, drums, vocals; and Yasushi Nakamura, bass.

To celebrate the Festival’s 60th Anniversary of its inception in 2018, Artistic Director Tim Jackson put together an all-star band that represented the future of jazz in a nationwide tour. Previous incarnations include a 50th anniversary tour in 2008, and additional national tours in 2010, 2013, and 2016, with a collective 163 performances to over 115,000 fans across the country.



This concert will also feature the 2nd Annual Alvin Batiste Hall of Distinction Award, which will be presented to Johnny Vidacovich. Vidacovich has been performing for nearly 50 years with a wide variety of artists which include: Professor Longhair, John Scofield, James Booker, Mose Allison, Bobby McFerrin, Charlie Hunter, and many more. He also is credited to 106 albums as a jazz drummer.

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It all started when…

Established in 2007 in collaboration with the River City Jazz Coalition, River City Jazz Masters is an annual series presented by the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge featuring some of the finest jazz artists performing on national and international stages. In addition to the performances, the series has a deep commitment to educational programs K-12 and college students with outreach engagement activities, and free school performance for students of all ages and abilities.

In the past decade, the River City Jazz Masters has hosted 19 Grammy Winning Artists, 8 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters, along with National Medal of the Arts winners, MacArthur Genius Fellows, Latin Grammy, Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominees, NAACP Image Award winners and one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People.

The concerts take place in the 325-seat Manship Theatre, an intimate venue modeled on European opera houses.  River City Jazz Masters and Listening Room tickets are available at manshiptheatre.org.

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The Series is made possible through the support of corporate and private donors who understand that quality music performance, along with educational programs tied to it, energizes our downtown area, brings people of diverse backgrounds together, and inspires excellence in the arts locally as well as regionally.  Initial supporters like John and Virginia Noland, The Josef Sternberg Foundation, The McMains Foundation, Laura and Clark Boyce, Tim and Stacia Hardy, Dr. Albert and Roberta Sam, Dr. Greg Ward, and Dr. Brian and Maria Despinasse, along with corporate sponsors including Louisiana Public Facilities Authority, Entergy, Turner Industries, Lee Michaels Fine Jewelers, Iberia Bank, Chase Bank, Capital One, Lamar Advertising, Cox Communications, 225, and the Louisiana Lottery, were and remain incredibly generous.  The Office of the Mayor-President, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Visit Baton Rouge, the Baton Rouge Metro Council, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, the Office of the Lt. Governor, and the East Baton Rouge Parish Legislative Delegation were vital in the beginning and remain life lines of support as future series are planned. The River City Jazz Masters Series was founded by Derek E. Gordon and is a collaboration with the River City Jazz Coalition whose members include: Verge and Cheri Ausberry, C.J. Blache and Sherri McConnell, Maria and Brian Despinasse II, Leo and Gwendolyn Hamilton, Tim and Stacia Hardy, Darrell Hunt, Dr. Antoine Keller and Allison Chauvin, Cornelius and Karen Lewis, Drs. Jamel and Nicolette Martin, Ronald and Belinda Mason, The John and Virginia Noland Fund, Albert and Roberta Sam and The Josef Sternberg Memorial Fund.

Supported in part by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.