21st Annual NCCU Jazz Festival

The 21st annual North Carolina Central University Jazz Festival will take place on the campus from April 11 to 16, featuring the Roy Hargrove Quintet and jazz vocalist Rene Marie. The NCCU Jazz Ensembles II and III will also perform.

Grammy-award winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove began playing the trumpet in the fourth grade. Midway through his junior year at Booker T. Washington’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts in Dallas, he was discovered by Wynton Marsalis, who was conducting a jazz clinic at the school. Marsalis invited Roy to sit in with his band. Over the next three months, Hargrove performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard and Bobby Hutcherson. Hargrove’s talent led to an invitation to perform in the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This led to a month-long European Tour.

In 1997, Hargrove’s Cuban-based band Crisol, which includes piano legend Jesus “Chucho” Valdes and wonder drummer Horatio “El Negro” Hernandez, won the Best Latin Jazz Performance Grammy for the album Habana. And in 2002, Hargrove, Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker won Best Instrumental Jazz Album, Individual or Group, for their three-way collaboration Directions in Music. He has graced the stage and/or recordings of many artists, including Sonny Rollins and Jackie McLean, song stylists Natalie Cole, Diana Krall and Abbey Lincoln, veterans Diana Ross, Steve Tyrell and Kenny Rankin, younger stars John Mayer and Rhian Benson and jazz divas Carmen McRae and the late, great Shirley Horn. Hargrove and his quintet will perform on Saturday, April 16, at 8 p.m. in the B.N. Duke Auditorium. Doors will open at 7 p.m.

Jazz vocalist Rene Marie has been called one of the greatest and most sensuous vocalists of our time. Her story of finding her voice and self through singing has made her a heroine, and her style incorporates elements of jazz, soul, blues and gospel. Her debut release, Renaissance, included powerful interpretations, electrifying deliveries and impassioned vocals. In 2007, Marie released Experiment in Truth as well as the single “This Is (Not) A Protest Song,” a fundraiser for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Two years later, she released the sound track for her touring one-woman play, Slut Energy Theory, which follows the character U’Dean Morgan on a journey from sexual abuse to self-esteem. Her latest release, Voice of My Beautiful Country, is a celebration of America and of Marie’s eclectic musical taste. The album runs the gamut in music styles, including everything from Jefferson Airplane’s psychedelic rock favorite “White Rabbit” to the traditional folk standards “John Henry” and “O Shenandoah.”

She has headlined several major festivals, including the Women in Jazz Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Edinburgh Jazz Festival in Scotland and the Shanghai Jazz Festival in China. Winner of the Best International Jazz Vocal CD by the Academie Du Jazz, she has graced the Billboard charts multiple times. She will perform with Doug Richards on Friday, April 15, at 8 p.m. in the B.N. Duke Auditorium. Doors will open at 7 p.m.

Under the leadership of Dr. Ira Wiggins, NCCU initiated the Jazz Festival in 1990 to expose the campus community and the city of Durham to America’s first indigenous art form, jazz. “The performance of our students at the festival this year will be symbolic of the academic excellence of the Jazz Studies program,” said Wiggins.

Tickets are $15 for the Friday performance, $20 for Saturday and $30 for the package. To purchase tickets, visit www.nccu.edu/jazzfest