On June 24, CVNC.org, the online arts journal known best for the more than 500 reviews it publishes each year of performances throughout North Carolina, will present its 3rd annual afternoon of musical performances along with a panel discussion among the performers, CVNC.org critics and the audience.  Again this year, Ruggero Piano in Raleigh has graciously donated the use of its beautiful Bössendorfer Hall for the 3:00 p.m. performance.  This year’s performers are world-renown jazz artists vocalist Lenora Zenzalai Helm and pianist Elmer Gibson.

Lenora Zenzalai Helm will be performing with her band – pianist Ryan Hanseler, drummer Larry Q. Draughn, Jr., and bassist Lance Scott, Jr. Their selections will be from their 2011 CD release, I Love Myself When I’m Laughing, and music from the standard Jazz repertoire of the American Songbook, also found on any of their six commercial recordings. Elmer Gibson will be performing selections from his CDs All the Seasons and The Reach of Memory. CDs from both artists will be available for sale.

Admission is free, but donations will gladly be accepted to support the work of CVNC.org in providing its online calendar and reviews of North Carolina arts. Ruggero Piano is located at 4720-120 Hargrove Road, Suite 120. Directions to Ruggero’s can be found on their website.

About the Musicians

Lenora Zenzalai Helm is an award-winning jazz vocal musician, composer, lyricist and educator who has garnered years of considerable international critical acclaim. She and her band recently headlined the 2012 Fiji Jazz & Blues Festival.  While there, at the request of the United States Embassy and the U.S. Ambassador, Ms. Helm did a number of cultural exchange activities and interviews, as well as gave a master class and workshop to music students at the Conservatorium of Music, Suva, Fiji Islands.

Ms. Helm is a former U.S. Jazz Ambassador for Southeastern Africa through the auspices of the U. S. Department of State and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is a MacDowell Composer Fellow and the first African-American female composer to win the Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s New Works: Creation and Presentation Award in Jazz Composition. Although her professional career has its focus in Jazz music, she has also performed dramatic roles in theater and opera. She sang in the North Carolina Central University Operatorio Ensemble’s production of The Magic Flute as Queen of the Night, and performed with the North Carolina Central University based B. N. Duke Atrium Chamber Players, as well as the Durham-based Mallarmé Chamber Players in numerous performances of William Banfield’s jazz-opera adaptation of Langston Hughes’ play, Soul Gone Home. In New York City she performed in various musical theater productions of Man of La Mancha, (Aldonza), Nine, Pippin, and in off-Broadway productions of For Colored Girls. Ms. Helm also sang Der Rosenkavalier in the role of Marschallin with Richard Crittenden’s Aquarius Opera Workshop in Washington, D.C.

As a TV and film music composer, notable music credits include Ms. Helm’s compositions featured in several 2012 Black History Month promo campaigns on the ESPN television network. Helm is a SESAC writer and her publishing companies, Baoule Works Music Publishing, is a SESAC publishing affiliate and her ASCAP publishing company, Holly’s Hits Music Publishing.

Helm joined the music faculty at North Carolina Central University in 2005, and teaches jazz and classical vocal performance, 20th Century Music and Songwriting for their music department and in NCCU’s prestigious Jazz Studies program, co-directing their NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Her vocal jazz students have won placements in Betty Carter Jazz Ahead workshops, Carnegie Hall Professional Development Workshops with Bobby McFerrin; top honors as Outstanding Performer by Downbeat Magazine; and finalists in Thelonious Monk Vocal Jazz competitions. Under Helm’s tutelage, The NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble boasts being the first vocal jazz ensemble to perform in the 51st Annual Collegiate Jazz Festival hosted by the University of Notre Dame in 2009, and won solo feature spots at the first New York City Jazz Festival 2010 held at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Her most recent student accomplishment is the NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble winning a spot – over 125 applicants – as one of six finalists, and the only historically black college and university, in the college vocal jazz category to the 2012 Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey, CA.

Elmer Gibson, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, began his studies of piano at the age of four, at the Hamilton School of Music, and at the age of ten began his study of the trumpet with Sigmund Herring of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and continued his piano studies with Irwin Gelber, both at the Settlement School of Music in Philadelphia.

Since the mid ’60s, Gibson has been writing, arranging, and performing music around the world with some of jazz’s finest musicians: Steve Novasel, Eric Allen, Ron Free, Al Grey, Cat Anderson, Sonny Stitt, Shirley Scott, Frank Foster, Kenny Durham, Sonny Fortune, Dakota Staton, Gene Ammons, Buster Williams, Hubert Laws, Grover Washington, Stanley Clarke, Hank Mobley, Carl Grubbs, Charlie Rouse, George Coleman, Larry Coryell and others.

In 1974, Gibson joined Norman Connors’ band, featuring Jean Carn, and.  as pianist, arranger, and musical director of the group, Gibson toured with Norman from 1974 to 1976, touring the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan, performing at the Newport Jazz Festival, the Berkeley Jazz Festival, Kongsberg, Norway Jazz Festival, the Paris Jazz Festival, and the Barcelona Jazz Festival. With Saxophonist Carl Grubbs band in the mid nineties he appeared in the 6th Annual Jazz Festival in Bogata, Columbia, and also in Medellin. With his own group he has appeared at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston SC, the San Jose Music Festival, the Pleasure Island Jazz, Blues and Seafood Festival in NC, and The New Bern Jazz and Blues Festival in New Bern, NC. During that period, he also appeared on three of Connors’ albums, Dark of Light, Love From the Sun, and Slewfoot.  Two of his compositions, “Kumekucha” and “Chuka” were given critical acclaim in Downbeat and Record World magazines.  Two of his arrangements appear on Nnenna Freelon’s Listen CD, and an original composition and an arrangement appear on TC the 3rd, Mega Jazz Explosion CD. He has performed twice with the North Carolina Symphony accompanying comedian/musician/late night T.V.host, Steve Allen and Jazz legend Cab Calloway.

Gibson eventually opted out of life on the road and relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he has remained very active as a musician.  He founded the non-profit Preservation Jazz Company, which has been responsible for starting several highly successful jazz festivals and numerous concert series.  Being a vital presence in the arts community, he is a founding board member of the Community Music School, in addition to serving on the boards of the ArtSpace subcommittee to the Raleigh City Council and the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County.

In 1997 Gibson recorded his first album of all original music, Generation Dance, which features several highly respected sidemen, including Eddie Henderson, Charles Fambrough, Clifford Adams and Norman Connors.  In 2003, he released The Elmer Gibson Trio Live, with Ron Free on drums and Rick Jones on bass. In 2005 he released his first solo piano CD, The Reach of Memory, and his solo Christmas CD, Jazz Ornaments for Solo Piano. His latest solo piano recording, All the Seasons, was released in 2010 and continues to be available for purchase. Gibson continues a very busy schedule performing with his organ trio, flute-piano duo,   composing for his own projects, TV commercials and documentaries, in addition to teaching private lessons and master classes.