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Fall Jazz Concerts Showcase Diverse Talent In Connecticut

Owen McNally
Contact ReporterSpecial to The Courant

Connecticut's diverse top jazz concerts for this fall range stylistically from the bold, cutting-edge inventions of the iconoclastic cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum to the pure swing and unadulterated joie de vivre of the internationally celebrated French traditional jazz band, The Paris Washboard.

Joey Alexander: By far the biggest and most exciting jazz concert of the new season features the already twice Grammy-nominated, 13-year-old, Bali-born pianist/composer Joey Alexander at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Connecticut campus at Storrs. A globetrotting wunderkind who recorded his first and widely acclaimed album two years ago and made his U.S. debut at Lincoln Center before turning 11, Alexander has performed with polish and panache at premier venues ranging from the White House to the Newport Jazz Festival. On tour promoting his second release, "Countdown" (Motema Music), Alexander leads his trio Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Jorgensen, 2132 Hillside Road, Storrs. Tickets are $36, floor; $32 mezzanine. Information: 860-486-4226 and jorgensen.uconn.edu.

Taylor Ho Bynum: Devotees of new music can take delight in Taylor Ho Bynum's expressionistic playing and visionary compositions as he leads his bold, boundary-pushing band, 7-tette, on Sept. 23 at 8:30 and 10 p.m. at New Haven's formidable fortress for the avant-garde at Firehouse 12, 45 Crown St. Tickets: $20, first set; $15, second set. Information: 203-785-0468 and firehouse12.com.

The Paris Washboard: Trad jazz fans can tap their feet to the upbeat, cosmopolitan beat of The Paris Washboard, one of nearly a dozen bands performing in three sessions at "Jeff & Joel's Houseparty," Oct. 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 5 to 10 p.m., and Oct. 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Elks Lodge, 158 South Montowese St., Branford. Tickets are $80 per session. On opening night Oct. 7 at 7:30 at the same venue, the Paris Washboard wails away as the evening's sole headliner. Tickets are $50. Information: jeffandjoelshouseparty.com. Tickets: 203-208-1481.

John Pizzarelli and Sissy Castrogiovanni: Rounding out the fall's top picks are master singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli Dec. 18 at 3 p.m. at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts, 1073 N. Benson Road, and the spectacular Sicilian singer/songwriter Sissy Castrogiovanni Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. at the Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main St., Middletown. Besides his knack for swing and sophistication, Pizzarelli is also a witty, engaging first-class entertainer. Tickets are $50 to $60. Information: quickcenter.fairfield.edu and box office, 203-254-4010. Inspired by a cross-cultural mix of jazz, Middle Eastern and Spanish flamenco influences, African rhythms and traditional melodies, Castrogiovanni exhibits her expansive, gorgeous voice with melodic, soulful songs sometimes sung entirely in Sicilian dialect. A dynamic performer, the Sicilian diva could probably sing her songs in Esperanto and they'd still sound soulful and dramatic. Tickets: $15. Information: 860-347-4957 and buttonwood.org.

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