Swinging Big Band Music at Roxbury's Highland Park

By
Allen Bush
July 18, 2008
Photo provided by the artist

Berklee College of Music and ParkARTS present an evening of swinging big band music in the style of Count Basie in Roxbury's historic Fort Hill neighborhood with Kendrick Oliver and the New Life Jazz Orchestra and opener Lawrence Fields and his quartet. The annual Jazz at the Fort concert is free and will be held on Sunday, August 3, at 5:00 p.m. at the four-acre Highland Park on Fort Avenue, Roxbury, weather permitting. Folding chairs and blankets are recommended.

Jazz at the Fort is accessible from the MBTA's Orange Line Roxbury Crossing station. Walk down Columbus Avenue to Cedar Street to Fort Avenue. Roxbury Community College provides parking on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Cedar Street. Highland Park is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 617 747-2447.

Kendrick Oliver and the New Life Jazz Orchestra, a vibrant 19-piece group, has been captivating audiences and selling out concerts since 1995. Under the musical direction of conductor, arranger, tuba player, and Berklee alumnus Oliver, the group plays Count Basie-style swing with foot-stompin' arrangements, high-octane rhythms, an unrestrained brass section, elegant vocals, and a talented assortment of spectacular soloists. Oliver and New Life have had breakout successes with mainstage performances at the Newport and Tanglewood Jazz Festivals, the launch of a touring educational jazz program honoring Basie, and the release of the acclaimed Welcome to New Life CD, featuring Christian McBride, Jimmy Greene, Miguel Zenon, and Jeremy Pelt. Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter Nicholas Payton calls New Life "one of the best big bands in the world." 

Pianist and rising star Lawrence Fields plays contemporary jazz in the style of Herbie Hancock and his musical hero George Duke, with whom he performed in Chicago in June. Though he graduated from Berklee just this year, the St. Louis native has already toured in Branford Marsalis's band and is currently the pianist in the Jeff "Tain" Watts Quartet. Fields will record with that group at the end of July. He also recorded with Alvin Batiste for the clarinetist's new CD on the Marsalis Music label. A music production and engineering major at Berklee, Fields is the coproducer and pianist on drummer Terri Lyne Carrington's next CD, out later this year.

Now in its 12th year, ParkARTS began as Mayor Thomas M. Menino's initiative to present a yearlong program of arts and culture related programs and events in Boston's park system. ParkARTS, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department's multifaceted arts program, incorporates the visual, performing, and participatory arts. The 2008 ParkARTS performing arts program, sponsored by Bank of America, presents concerts at Boston neighborhood parks that range from jazz to symphonic music. Over 80 participatory arts programs will be offered, including arts and crafts workshops and landscape watercolor painting classes.