The Visual and Performing Arts Department’s annual Geller Jazz Series this spring will feature three events celebrating music with influences from Cuba to New Orleans.
The series kicks off on Sunday, April 16, with the Cuban jazz piano virtuoso Omar Sosa, continuing April 17 with a screening of Professor Soren Sorenson’s documentary about Sosa’s life. The series will conclude on Wednesday, April 19, with the Donald Harrison Quintet. All events will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Razzo Hall.
Tickets are now available. Admission for the April 16 and April 19 concerts is $20 for general admission, and $10 with a Clark ID; the April 17 documentary screening is free, but reservations are encouraged. Series tickets also are available at $30 for general admission or $12 with a Clark ID.
On April 16, Sosa will headline a unique musical fusion, SUBA, a collaboration with Seckou Keita, a master of the Senegalese kora (21-string harp lute), and Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles. Their collaboration produces music that brilliantly embraces jazz, Latin, and African influences.
Omar Sosa has appeared in venues as diverse as the Blue Note (New York, Milan, and Tokyo), Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and festivals that include Monterey Jazz, JVC Jazz, Spoletto, and WOMAD. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Smithsonian Associates in Washington, D.C., in 2003 for his contribution to the development of Latin jazz in the United States. He received the 2003 Afro-Caribbean Jazz Album of the Year Award from the Jazz Journalists Association in NYC as well as nominations from the BBC Radio 2 World Music Awards, and has released more than 40 albums, seven of which were nominated for Grammys or Latin Grammys.
The April 17 screening of “Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums,” a feature-length documentary, will be followed by a Q&A session with Sosa, Seckou Keita, manager Scott Price, and filmmaker Soren Sorenson, associate teaching professor of screen studies at Clark.
In the grand finale on April 19, the Geller Jazz Series welcomes New Orleans-born saxophonist Donald Harrison with his quintet. Harrison is a master of every era of jazz, soul, funk, as well as orchestral classical music. As “Big Chief of Congo Square” in Afro-New Orleans culture, he shares that unique New Orleans jazz with the world and adds to those traditions by creating influential styles such as “nouveau swing” (a blend of jazz with R&B, hip-hop, rock, and soul) and a modern second-line.
Harrison’s dedication to preserving the music and culture of New Orleans has been crucial to assuring that this important legacy survives. In 2022, these efforts were recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) with Jazz Masters Fellowship, the highest honor that our nation bestows on jazz artists. This award recognizes living legends who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz.
Cuban-American pianist/composer Fabian Almazan will open the April 19 concert with his quartet.
Selma Geller was a New York City philanthropist who died in 2007. She was deeply concerned about the lack of musical educational opportunities available to the current generation of students. Her gifts to Clark University for music scholarships and performances are a testament to her desire to bring the original American musical art form to the Clark community.
For further details, please contact Henry Brown.