Fall's Jazz Headliners Include Chick Corea, Jane Monheit, Vijay Iyer

Special to The Courant

While the Top-10 jazz fall fare might not actually range to infinity, it is chock full of impressive talent and dizzying diversity. It soars from a high-flying flock of rare singers, including Jane Monheit and Kurt Elling, to such progressive, figures for change as the great alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, an uncompromising artist of true historic import, and the exciting, cerebral Indian-American pianist Vijay Iyer, who is already charting an historic, groundbreaking path of his own.

>>Chick Corea: As the epitome of renewal and reinvention, pianist/composer Chick Corea is absolutely the ideal choice to perform Sept. 21 as the first jazz icon to grace the stage of the new Infinity Music Hall & Bistro, a beacon of an entertainment center for Hartford's revitalizing downtown Front Street development project.

In what most likely will be the biggest news event of Connecticut's 2014 fall jazz season, Corea, a 20-time Grammy Award winner, leads his acclaimed new band, The Vigil, at the venue.

On the band's acclaimed, debut recording, "The Vigil," Corea, a fearless eclectic explorer, mixes electric with acoustic, musing on everything from Moog to concert grand piano while riding a variety of grooves ranging over fusion, modal, Latin and beyond. His vigilant accomplices in rediscovering fire include: bassist Hadrien Feraud, drummer Marcus Gilmore (grandson of the legendary drummer Roy Haynes), the British saxophonist/woodwind player Tim Garland and the stunning guitarist Charles Altura. Information:

>>Hartford Jazz Society: For more than half-a-century, the fall jazz season in Connecticut has splashed down officially with the Hartford Jazz Society's (HJS) annual boat cruise on the Connecticut River, which launches Sept. 21 from Haddam. It cruises down river to Long Island Sound and back, a seven-hour jazz journey, with live music playing as a virtually continuous soundtrack.

Part of what makes this excursion a Top-10 pick — aside from the gorgeous river valley scenery and the shipboard partying and networking —- are the two power-packed bands that generate jazz all daylong: bassist Nat Reeve's All-Star Ensemble and percussionist Ed Fast's aggregation, Conga Bop.Both bands are stocked with seaworthy stalwarts including, to name but a few, pianist David Hazeltine and guitarist Peter Bernstein in Reeves' crew, and trombonist Steve Davis and bassist Matt Dwonszyk among Fast's swift cruise mates. Information:

>>The Jazz House Party: While the HJS celebrates the ancient rite of the riverboat ramble, regional traditional jazz fans in recent years have resurrected the hallowed 1920s and '30s jazz tradition of "the house party" at an annual, increasingly popular event called "Jeff and Joel's Jazz House Party." A weekend bash, it features a legion of top trad jazz musicians wailing away for the party faithful. In years past, the swinging shindig was held in banjo Hall of Famer Joel Schiavone's 1804 farmhouse in Guilford. Because the party's turnout has outgrown the farmhouse, the event has been moved down the road to a new, pond-side venue at the VFW Hall in Guilford. Running from Oct. 10 to Oct.12, the festivities feature pianist/organizer Jeff Barnhart at the helm, directing an array of jamming musicians. Barnhart's brigade includes everybody from the celebrated bassist, leader of the Nighthawks Orchestra and vintage music master Vince Giordano of "Boardwalk Empire" fame, to such heroically rugged, classically pure traditionalists as trumpeter Fred Vigorito and clarinetist Noel Kaletsky. For information on tickets, events, times, meals, etc.: Reservations: 203-208-1481.

>>Monheit: Jane Monheit Dec. 7 at Hartford's Infinity Hall and Bistro. Monheit is touring on behalf of her latest CD, "Hello Bluebird: Celebrating the Jazz of Judy Garland." Kurt Elling brings his edgy elegance and literate hipness Oct. 1, also to Hartford's new Infinity Hall.

>>Firehouse 12: Among concerts not to be missed this season is Lee Konitz's appearance Dec. 12 in the grand finale for Firehouse 12's "Fall Jazz Series," a coup for the New Haven venue noted as an invaluable sounding board for improvised music. Since his early career brilliance with the pioneer avant-gardist Lennie Tristano, Konitz has never stopped creating beautiful, inventive music, strikingly evocative and lyrically elegant at the same time. Firehouse's high-quality, diverse fare also features ascending, young, endlessly challenging guitarist Mary Halvorson who plays Nov. 7 at the Elm City venue. You can double your pleasure that night because Halvorson presents not one but two separate sets of solo guitar music in the cozy, intimate, acoustically pristine setting. Information: and 203-785-0468.

>>Vijay Iyer: Also not to be missed is pianist/composer Vijay Iyer's performance with his trio Oct. 11 at Wesleyan University's Crowell Concert Hall, Middletown. Box office: 860-685-3355. If you do miss it, however, don't worry. Iyer's trio has a second Connecticut date this fall as it also performs Nov. 15 at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts, Fairfield. Box office: 203-254-4010.

Perhaps it was his undergraduate studies in math and physics at Yale, but whatever the cause, Iyer's artistic effect is startling. His playing reflects brilliant, new insights into the keyboard science of matter and energy and of all the possible interactions between the two among the piano's standard 88 keys.

>>Ron Carter: New Haven also beckons with yet another top pick as the virtuoso double bassist Ron Carter performs with his trio Oct. 24 at Yale's classy "Ellington Jazz Series" at Sprague Hall. If Carter's only career accomplishment was to have played in the miraculous Miles Davis Quintet of the 1960s — a dream team consisting of himself, Miles, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams — he'd still be respected as a great worthy. His resume, however, runneth over with innumerable triumphs. Box office: 203-432-4158.

Editor's note: This story has been edited from a previous version to remove information about the Diana Krall concert previously scheduled for Dec. 3 at Toyota Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford. That concert has been cancelled. 

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