Tuesday, May 2, 2017

THURS., MAY 4 - FRI., MAY 5: CCNY Jazz Festival Returns with Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio, free master classes and more



Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio to share the stage with CCNY Student Jazz All Stars on Friday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m. 
and CCNY Jazz Orchestra on Thursday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m.

Two-day festival running May 4 and 5 at Aaron Davis Hall to include master classes 
with saxophonist Jon Gordon and vocalist René Marie

The City College Center for the Arts (CCCA) and the City College of New York Jazz Program present the 2017 CUNY Jazz Festival featuring Hammond Organ guru Dr. Lonnie Smith. The two-day festival includes free master classes with saxophonist Jon Gordon and vocalist René Marie, performances by student ensembles from schools throughout the City University of New York (CUNY), and a free concert with Smith, a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) jazz master. The event culminates with a gala concert featuring the CCNY Student Jazz All-Stars opening for Dr. Lonnie Smith and his trio, on May 5 at 7:30pm. The events will be held at historic Aaron Davis Hall.

“The CUNY Jazz Festival celebrates its 17th year and this year is particularly special because City College Center for the Arts joins the festival in presenting living legend Dr. Lonnie Smith and his trio,” said CCCA Managing Director Gregory Shanck. Past CUNY Jazz Festival guest artists include guitarists John Abercrombie and Adam Rogers, bassist John Patitucci, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, vocalist Luciana Souza, saxophonists Dick Oatts Chris Potter, Dave Liebman, and Billy Drewes, pianist Kenny Werner, trumpet players Ralph Alessi and Marvin Stamm, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

The 17th Annual CUNY Jazz Festival kicks off on Thursday, May 4, with a performance by the CCNY Faculty Jazz Ensemble at noon, followed by a master class featuring Gordon and performance by student ensembles. That evening at 7:30, Dr. Lonnie Smith joins the CCNY Large Jazz Ensemble for a free concert followed by a jam session. On Friday, May 5, the festival continues at noon with student performances and a master class featuring vocalist René Marie. The festival wraps up with a gala concert featuring the CCNY Student Jazz All-Stars followed by the Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio at 7:30 p.m.

Participating schools joining CCNY ensembles this year include Hunter College, Queens College, Lehman College, York College and The College of Staten Island.

Events are free with the exception of the gala concert, which is $15 for General Admission and free with CUNY ID.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.citycollegecenterforthearts.org or by calling the box office at (212) 650-6900. Patrons wishing to buy tickets in person may visit Aaron Davis Hall Tuesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m. Aaron Davis Hall is located on the campus of the City College of New York, at West 135th Street and Convent Avenue (129 Convent Avenue).

City College Center for the Arts can be followed on Twitter at @ccnyarts. For festival schedule information, visit www.jazz.ccnysites.cuny.edu. For information on other performances at Aaron Davis Hall, visit citycollegecenterforthearts.org.


Dr. Lonnie Smith is an unparalleled musician, composer, performer and recording artist.  An authentic master and guru of the Hammond B-3 organ for more than five decades, he has been featured on more than 70 albums, and has recorded and performed with a virtual “Who’s Who” of the greatest jazz, blues and R&B giants in the industry.  Consequently, he has often been hailed as a “Legend,” a “Living Musical Icon,” and as the most creative jazz organist. Jazz Times magazine describes him as “a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a turban.” Always ahead of the curve, Smith enjoys a fan base that is truly worldwide.

Smith was introduced to music through the gospel he heard at the church where his mother sang.  He was part of several vocal ensembles in the 1950s, and played trumpet and other instruments at his hometown school in Buffalo, NY. In the late 1950s, Art Kubera, a Buffalo-area music store owner, gave Smith his first organ on which he learned to play and develop his musical style. In addition to being influenced by the sound of the church organ, he was inspired by organists such as Wild Bill Davis, Bill Doggett and Jimmy Smith.  

Among the honors bestowed upon Smith are DownBeat’s Best Organist honors (1969) and numerous Organist/Keyboards Player of the Year awards by the Jazz Journalists Association. Both the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame (2009) and Jazz Organ Fellowship (2011) elevated Smith to the ranks of their honorees.  Smith was recently named 2017 NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.


The City College Center for the Arts hosts an ambitious, year-round calendar of student and professional performances.  The mission of the City College Center for the Arts is to provide a creative arts center and focal point for the City College of New York, building a sense of community within the College, elevating the profile of Aaron Davis Hall in the greater New York area and connecting the College to the surrounding community through the arts.