At every Jazz Roots concert, a large group of student musicians attend both the sound check and the concert, exemplifying this seriesâ commitment to nurturing the next generation of young talent.
While their attendance is very much in the background, the role that mentorship plays in the field of jazz will be very front-and-center this Friday night when the series unites renowned jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater with pianist 14-year-old Joey Alexander, who is the youngest Grammy nominee in the award programâs history.
âJazz is a generations art form, passed down in an apprenticeship manner that is all too rare in the world today. Every artist career is on the backs of mentors and role models,â says Shelly Berg, the music seriesâ advisor and dean of the Frost School of Music.
Bridgewater is standing in for Ramsey Lewis, who is recuperating from minor surgery, says Liz Wallace, vice president programming for the Arsht Center.
"We so appreciate that the sensational Ms. Bridgewater has been able to find time in her busy schedule to join us for this concert.Â Â It is a gift,â Wallace said.
Bridgewater is a fan favorite, âhaving performed previously in two âJazz Rootsâ programs, Jazz Meets Gershwin,â and the âMovie Music of Spike Lee and Terence Blanchard,â Wallace noted.
âDee Dee is one of a few in the âroyaltyâ of jazz singers, and we felt we needed that level of artist to replace Ramsey Lewis. She is also one of the most engaging performers in jazz, so our patrons will have a great experience,â Berg said.
Bridgewater, an icon in the jazz world, is a especially well known because of her 23-year stint as the host of NPRâs syndicated radio show, âJazz Set with Dee Dee Bridgewater."
She has won three Grammys, as well as a Tony Award for her work as a stage actress in âThe Wiz.â She is also a prolific recording artist, who is known for her activism as well. She is a UN Goodwill Ambassador and, most recently, a NEA Jazz Master honoree. Her latest albumÂ âMemphisâŚYes, Iâm ReadyâÂ an homage to her birth city,â was released in September 2017 to great critical praise.
Bridgewater, who makes no secret of her age, half-rapped at a recent appearance at the New Yorkâs Blue Note, â Iâm 67 years old, Iâm happy to be and I have decided to do a record that is forÂ me,â she was quoted as saying, in a New York Times rave review of the show.
As for the younger side of âGenerations,â Berg is enthusiastic about young Alexander. âJoey possesses the maturity and inventiveness of a great artists several times his age. We donât know how this is possible or where it comes from, but it is amazing to experience,â said Berg.
Alexander learned about jazz from his musician father and began teaching himself piano on a mini-keyboard at the age of six. By the age of eight, he had been invited by UNESCO to perform for Herbie Hancock.
He garnered two Grammy Award nominations for his debut album, âMy Favorite Things,â plus unprecedented media coverage, which include segments on the âToday Show,â â60 Minutesâ and the award showâs telecast. His latest album, âJoey, Monk, Live!â is a tribute to his mentor Thelonious Monk in celebration of the famous musicianâs centennial.
Says Wallace: âThe brilliance of a child prodigy on the same stage as a music icon promises to be a not to be missed concert this season and is the perfect opportunity to introduce the next generation of jazz!â
âGenerations: Dee Dee Bridgewater and Joey Alexander,â will be performed Friday, Jan. 12 at the Knight Concert Hall of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Fla., 33132. Tickets $45-$125. Call 305-949-6722. www.arshtcenter.org.