Photo courtesy of First Night Boston
The 35th celebration of First Night Boston, North America's largest and oldest New Year's arts festival, has a generous sprinkling of jazz performances throughout the evening, according to spokeswoman Joyce Linehan. Among the featured performers:
The Lionel Loueke Trio at Berklee Performance Center
Praised by his mentor Herbie Hancock as "a musical painter," jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke combines harmonic sophistication, soaring melody, a deep knowledge of African music, and conventional and extended guitar techniques to create a warm and evocative sound of his own. Originally from the small West African nation of Benin, Loueke has enjoyed a meteoric rise recently. In 2008 and 2009, he was picked as top Rising Star guitarist in Down Beat magazine. After his initial to exposure to jazz in Benin, Loueke attended the National Institute of Art in Ivory Coast. In 1994 he left to pursue jazz studies at the American School of Modern Music in Paris, then came to the U.S. on a scholarship to Berklee. This performance, a partnership between First Night, Berklee College of Music and 89.7 WGBH, will be broadcast live in Boston on 89.7 and on stations across the country as part of NPR’s annual New Year’s Eve broadcast “Toast of the Nation.” Led by a Berklee-trained pianist, The Takeshi Ohbayashi Quartet will open. (Loueke 7:45 and 9:30 p.m., Ohbayashi 6:30 p.m.)
Shimon Ben-Shir and Friends at the Boston Public Library Rabb Hall, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Bassist and composer Shimon Ben-Shir brings together a group of seasoned and accomplished musicians to take listeners on a musical journey that cover the globe. Whether it’s to a cool oasis, a hot Latin party or a grooving Middle Eastern affair, the music transports the listener to places they’ve never been but will want to visit again and again. The compositions are warm, lyrical, inviting and memorable. (Presented by the Consulate General of Israel to New England)
Live, Laugh, Love: A New Year’s Cabaret at the Park Plaza Terrace Room, 9:30 p.m.
All of life’s important lessons can be learned from show tunes, so come to the cabaret, old chum! First Night hosts some of Boston’s best loved theatre artists doing what they do best – singing their hearts out. Join Neil A. Casey, Kerry A. Dowling, and Maureen Keiller, all accompanied by Nick Connell to ring in 2011 with favorite Broadway songs.
The Boston Saxophone Quartet at CityPlace, 6 and 7:30 p.m.
The Boston Saxophone Quartet is a unique blend of musicians combining a tremendous range of repertoire and individual experience in wind performance. Members of the BSQ have performed with the Boston Pops and Boston Symphony Orchestra and leading Broadway theaters throughout New England. The BSQ offers a wide repertoire: swing, ragtime, jazz, The Beatles, and all the way back to the Renaissance.
New England Conservatory Youth Jazz Orchestra at First Church, 4 p.m
The Youth Jazz Orchestra is a new ensemble that debuted in September 2008 at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. The Orchestra is directed by celebrated jazz artist Ken Schaphorst, who chairs NEC's college jazz studies department and directs the college-level jazz orchestra. Some of New England’s most talented and committed high school musicians will light up First Night with their big band sound!
For year round jazz in Massachusetts, visit MassJazz.com.
For tourist information, visit MassVacation.com.