Renfrew jazz fest to feature world-renowned musicians
WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Renfrew Institute’s 28th annual Jazz Festival is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 25, from 2 to 4 p.m. on the lawn behind the Renfrew Museum house in Waynesboro, Pa. The concert features world-renowned musicians and is offered free to the public.
This year’s concert will feature the highly acclaimed Jeff “Tain” Watts Travel Band, featuring Jeff Watts on drums, Paul Bollenback on guitar, Orlando la Fleming on bass, plus special guest Grégoire Maret on harmonica.
“This concert is an opportunity to hear these stellar jazz artists for free in beautiful Renfrew Park,” said event organizer, Andrew Sussman.
Watts spent his formative years with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and his compositional skills now command equal attention, earning Watts a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017.
“The world of music and musicians has been gracious to me, never difficult. I’m always trying my best, but the support of friends and family has been key,” Watts said.
Watts left Wynton Marsalis in 1988. After working with George Benson, Harry Connick, Jr. and McCoy Tyner, he joined the Branford Marsalis Quartet in 1989, winning two Grammys. In the film and television industry Watts has appeared as both a musician on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and as an actor, Rhythm Jones in Spike Lee’s “Mo Better Blues.” He joined Kenny Garrett’s band after returning to New York in 1995 and continued to record and tour with Branford Marsalis as well as Danilo Perez, Michael Brecker, Betty Carter, Kenny Kirkland, Courtney Pine, Geri Allen, Alice Coltrane, Greg Osby, McCoy Tyner, Steve Coleman, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Harry Connick, Jr. and Ravi Coltrane.
Though Watts has been on the big stage, he’s looking forward to the relaxed setting at Renfrew Park.
“I’m simply looking forward to having a pleasant Sunday afternoon,” Watts said. “The music goes everywhere these days, and you never know who’s listening. We just want to connect and share.”
Maret is one of the most sought after harmonica players in the world. Often compared to legends Toots Thielemans and Stevie Wonder, he has been asked to play with an incredible number of famous musicians including Youss N’Dour, Meshell Ndegeocello, Pete Seeger, David Sanborn, George Benson, and Cassandra Wilson, to name a few. In 2003 he was the subject of Swiss filmmaker Frédéric Baillif’s documentary, Sideman, which won several awards. In 2005, Maret toured with the Pat Metheny Group, receiving a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for their album “The Way Up.”
Bollenback started his music career in 1981, and has performed as a sideman with a wide range of jazz luminaries, including artists as diverse as Stanley Turrentine, Steve Gadd, Gary Bartz, David “Fathead” Newman, Terri-Lyne Carrington, Joe Locke, Jack McDuff, James Moody, Jim Snidero, Charlie Byrd, Herb Ellis, Paul Bley, Geoffrey Keezer, Mike LeDonne, Carol Sloane, Chris McNulty, Gary Thomas, Grady Tate, and in the group, East Meets Jazz with the renowned tabla virtuoso Sandip Burman, to name a few.
Le Fleming is counted among the most proficient and accomplished bassists in the field of contemporary jazz. His facility as an improviser and capacity as a team player were first honed not on the bandstand, nor in the practice room, but on the cricket pitch. Originally from the UK, le Fleming seemed destined for an athletic career, and was briefly a professional cricketer, until he was granted a place at London’s Royal Academy of Music, and his lifelong passion for music won out. Greatly in demand, he has worked with Branford Marsalis, Leslie Odom, Jr., Wayne Krantz, Joey Calderazzo, Bill Charlap, Billy Cobham and David Sanchez among others.
As for what to expect Sunday from the talented jazz musicians.
“We hope to make everyone comfortable, but at the same time stimulate folks. My musicians are exceptional, and are a link from the past to the future of the music,” Watts said. “I’ll be happy if children dance.”
Parking is available behind the visitors center, with additional parking in the lower lot off Welty Road. Those attending are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets, and picnics are welcome. If it rains, the concert may be moved to the Waynesboro Area Middle School auditorium.
For more information, call Renfrew Institute at 717-762-0373 or visit www.renfrewinstitute.org.
Top photo: Clockwise from top left, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Paul Bollenback, Gregoire Maret and Orlando le Fleming will perform at Renfrew Institute's 28th annual Jazz Festival.