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Geri Allen, and Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band, Headline 2009 Reno Jazz Festival

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AWARD-WINNING JAZZ ARTISTS GERI ALLEN, AND JERRY GONZALEZ AND THE FORT APACHE BAND HEADLINE 2009 RENO JAZZ FESTIVAL, APRIL 23-25

The best jazz musicians in the world travel to the University of Nevada, Reno each spring to perform and teach at the Reno Jazz Festival. This year, extraordinary pianist/composer and educator Geri Allen, and legendary percussionist/trumpeter and bandleader Jerry Gonzalez and his Fort Apache Band will share their talent and expertise with the festival's more than 10,000 attendees.

In addition to evening concerts by guest artists, the Reno Jazz Festival offers daytime competitions, workshops and clinics by scores of professional jazz artists and adjudicators for more than 9,000 young jazz musicians from throughout the West. The three-day festival culminates in a showcase concert and awards ceremony to honor the best and brightest young standouts.

Geri Allen and the University's own faculty ensemble, The Collective, will perform Thursday, April 23 at 7:30pm in Nightingale Concert Hall. Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band perform Friday, April 24 at 7:30pm in the Lawlor Events Center Arena. The Festival Showcase Concert and Awards Ceremony will be held Saturday, April 25 at 6:30pm in Lawlor Events Center Arena.

Geri Allen and The Collective April 23 at 7:30 p.m. Nightingale Concert Hall University of Nevada, Reno campus

Award-winning jazz pianist, composer, arranger, educator and 2008 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, Geri Allen is known for her sensational improvisation, tapping into ancestral roots and connecting American jazz with African folk music in a rhythmic newness all her own. Inspired by such pianist-composers as Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner and Cecil Taylor, Allens innovative approach to jazz has earned accolades from musicians and fans alike, resulting in a stunning array of collaborations with many of the leading mainstream and avant garde greats of the past 25 years, including Jack DeJohnette, Wayne Shorter, Marian McPartland, Ravi Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Wynton Marsalis, Wallace Roney, Betty Carter, Dewey Redman, Charles Lloyd, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian and many others.

Allen, who holds a bachelor's in jazz studies and a master's in ethnomusicology, was the first woman to receive the prestigious Danish JAZZPAR Prize, and was named by Essence Magazine as one of 200 extraordinary women who have changed the world. She also has taught at Howard University, the New England Conservatory and The New School in New York, and is currently associate professor of jazz and contemporary improvisation at the University of Michigan.

At the Reno Jazz Festival, Geri Allen will perform with one of the most creative and versatile ensembles in the region, the University's own faculty ensemble, The Collective Dr. Larry Engstrom (trumpet), Peter Epstein (alto saxophone), Dr. David Ake (piano), Hans Halt (bass), and Dr. Andrew Heglund (drums). The Collective performs extensively and draws from a rich musical background. Members have performed with such jazz giants as Charlie Haden, Ravi Coltrane, Cedar Walton, Joe Pass, Tommy Flanagan, Bobby Hutcherson, Peter Erskine, Robin Eubanks and more.

Individual tickets for Geri Allen and The Collective are: General $20/Senior $17/Student $10. Tickets to the Geri Allen and The Collective performance (preferred seating) are also included in the festivals Jazz Fan Pass, which provides entry to all festival events April 23-25: General $60.

Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band April 24 at 7:30 p.m. Lawlor Events Center Arena University of Nevada, Reno campus

Legendary percussionist/trumpeter and bandleader Jerry Gonzalez and his Fort Apache Band have been considered by many the unofficial placeholders of “exemplary" in Afro-Caribbean jazz. AllAboutJazz agrees: “One of the appeals is the 'you can't do that' factor; you can't put congas or trumpet or tablas into a flamenco mix, or make gypsies out of Monk or Yardbird. But apparently you can or Jerry Gonzalez can; and he comes out of the project sounding like a genius."

Gonzalez says the group's Grammy-nominated music is a reflection of their experiences living in New York City “and of the cultural roots from the motherland Africa which we keep alive. We are all second generation (Afro-Hispanic-Indian) musicians living in NYC, and we are bilingual: We play the blues and we play rhumba."

The groups ground-breaking recording Rumba Para Monk garnered major kudos as World Beat Group of the Year from DownBeat's readers poll, and Album of the Year by the French Academe du Jazz, leading also to a resurgence in Afro-Caribbean jazz over the past decade. Three times they have been named Beyond Group of the Year by both DownBeat's readers' and critics' polls, and they swept the Latin Jazz category at the New York Jazz Awards, winning both the industry and journalists' polls. The Playboy Magazine readers' poll has also given them Best Jazz Group of the Year honors.

Featured prominently in Fernando Truebas documentary film on Latin jazz, Calle 54, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band have showcased such premiere Latin musicians over the years as Andy Gonzalez, Steve Barrios, Larry Willis, Carter Jeffersen, John Stubblefield, Joe Ford, Kenny Kirkland, Sonny Fortune, Nicky Marrero, Papo Vasquez, Jorge Dalto and Milton Cardona. Gonzalez completed his formal studies at New York College of Music and New York University.

Individual tickets for Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band are: General $24/Senior $21/Student $15. Tickets to the Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band performance (preferred seating) are also included in the Jazz Fan Pass, which provides entry to all festival events April 23-25: General $60.

Reno Jazz Festival Showcase Concert and Awards Ceremony April 25 at 6:30 p.m. Lawlor Events Center Arena University of Nevada, Reno campus

The 2009 Reno Jazz Festival will culminate in a final showcase concert and awards ceremony, featuring performances by the winners of the 2009 RJF All-Star Performers competition, and encore performances from some of the highest-rated groups and soloists in the festival. During the showcase performances, awards will be given in recognition of individuals and groups who place in the top five of each category (top eight for middle school bands).

Individual tickets for the Reno Jazz Festival Showcase and Awards Ceremony are: General $15/Senior $12/Student $8. Tickets to the Reno Jazz Festival Showcase and Awards Ceremony (preferred seating) are also included in the Jazz Fan Pass, which provides entry to all festival events April 23-25: General $60.

The University of Nevada, Reno Jazz Festival is funded in part by a grant from the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional support is provided by the City of Reno Arts and Culture Commission, Maytan Music Center and the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz Publicity.
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