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The busy, expanding, thoroughly satisfying jazz scene in what is called the "Triangle" area of the Piedmont section of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) just keeps getting better and better. Who needs the New York. Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C. or any other East coast jazz scenes when everybody seems to be coming this way? The area can boast of several venues that present live jazz, including C. Grace and Irregardless Café in Raleigh; The Carolina Theatre, Motorco Music Hall, Blue Note Grill, Sharp Nine Gallery, Pinhook, Kingfisher, the Hayti Heritage Center, The NorthStar Church of the Arts, The Fruit, trumpeter Al Strong's Jazz on The Roof at The Durham Hotel in Durham; Weaver Street, The Station, The Second Wind, and The Arts Center, in Carrboro; and Imbibe in Chapel Hill. The scene is also enhanced by the music presented by the three main universities in the area: Duke University in Durham (Duke Performances), North Carolina State University (NC State LIVE) in Raleigh, and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Carolina Performing Arts).
In addition, other area colleges and universities present live jazz and have outstanding jazz studies program and jazz ensembles. North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham has nationally acclaimed, award-winning jazz ensembles, under the direction of saxophonist, Dr. Brian Horton. They have performed at The White House twice and at The Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Durham resident saxophonist Branford Marsalis was recently an artist-in-residence at NCCU, and vocalist Nnnena Freelon, who also lives in Durham, has been featured at several of NCCU jazz events.
A good sign that the Triangle jazz scene is growing is the very pleasant emergence of organizations dedicated to jazz: The North Carolina Jazz Listening Group and The Triangle Jazz Society, which has been around since 2005, The CoCo Jazz & Arts Community and The Durham Jazz Renaissance Foundation. The area is also fortunate enough to have a 24-hour jazz radio station, NCCU's WNCU-FM, Durham (which has been on the air since 1995). Other radio stations, such as WCOM-FM, Chapel Hill-Carrboro's community station, Duke University's WXDU-FM, and UNC-CH's WXYC-FM, also program jazz music. WXYC-FM and WNCU-FM both hold live jazz concerts on special occasions.
This robust, contagious wonderful jazz activity makes for a jazz scene that is just as hip as any scene in the nation, or the world for that matter. Where else, can you hear radio stations playing the music day and night, experience live jazz in the clubs, colleges and the universities, and have an abundance of jazz studies programs in almost all of the area's institutions of higher learning, including high schools? Jazz heaven maybe. This Triangle jazz community is enjoying jazz heaven very well. The community will smile and be highly pleased with the upcoming, splendid, variety-packed 2022 fall jazz music season.
The fall jazz season gets started when The Ninth Annual John Coltrane Jazz and Blues Festival takes place Labor Day weekend, (September 3and September 4, 2022) in his hometown of High Point, North Carolina, about an hour and half west of the Triangle area of the state. This year's Coltrane festival lineup includes vocalist Patti Labelle and Christian McBride. Also, in the month of September, the pianist Joey Alexander and his group is slated to perform September 10, 2022, at Duke University's Baldwin Auditorium. Vocalist Samara Joy is scheduled to be at The American Tobacco Amphitheatre, September 14, 2022, in Durham. On September 19, 2022, Brian Culberson, Marcus Anderson and Marqueal Jordan, will be featured at The Carolina Theatre (see sidebar for relevant calendar listings*).
The month of October will feature an October 21 performance called "A Night In Tunisia" with French-Tunisian saxophonist Yacine Boulares at Baldwin Auditorium on the campus of Duke University. The next night, October 22, The Mingus Big Band is scheduled to perform at Page Auditorium, at Duke University. On October 28-29, 2022, vocalist Nnenna Freelon and others will present a two-night tribute to the late Durham, North Carolina-based composer/musician Brother Yusuf Salim, at The Hayti Heritage Cultural Center, in Durham. On October 29, 2022, the pianist Kenny Barron and the violinist Regina Carter are scheduled to be at Stewart Theater, on the campus on North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Finally, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring vocalist Dianne Reeves, will be at Memorial Hall, December 2, 2022, on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Whew! What a fine, fruitful, uplifting fall jazz season 2022 looks to be in the Triangle area of North Carolina and one that will get better and better as time goes by. We've gone full circle. Jazz musicians used to leave the state. Now there coming back to the place where Trane, Monk Max, Nina and Percy were born. The music is alive and well in North Carolina and the proof is in the pudding. Viva the Carolina Jazz Connection!
*Note: Events are subject to change. Check ahead.