Accelerating the transition to a clean energy future
The Soular Jazz Foundation promotes sustainable, clean energy with music events.
These events include parades, concerts and the annual Soular Jazz Festival.
The 2019 Soular Jazz Festival will be held on Saturday, June 15
Saturday, April 13, 2019, 7:00 - 8:30
Ed Harlow Trio featuring Mark Shilansky and Keala Kaumeheiwa
Ed Harlow - saxophones
Originally from Marshfield, MA, saxophonist, composer and educator Ed Harlow has been based in the greater Boston area since 1987. After finishing his undergraduate degree at the University of North Texas, Harlow toured the US, Canada and Japan with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
Upon his return to Boston, Harlow worked as instrumentalist, composer and educator. At that time, he also toured Taiwan, Brazil, France, Hawaii and the Caribbean with groups such as The Artie Shaw Orchestra, The Benny Goodman Tribute Orchestra and Volo Volo de Boston. Mr. Harlow has performed with notable artists such as Tony Bennett, The Temptations, Johnny Mathis, Danilo Pérez and Paquito D’Rivera. He has also performed at, and given clinics at the Panama Jazz Festival from 2014 to 2018.
Mr. Harlow has ten publications with Advance Music and has released three CDs as a leader. The latest is The Gringo Kings (2018), which features an eight piece Latin Jazz collective focusing on Mr. Harlow’s original writing.
Mr. Harlow is also the founder of the Soular Jazz Foundation, which uses music events help to accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Each year, the foundation stages the Soular Jazz Festival in Northborough, MA, which features multiple jazz bands performing on a sound system powered by the sun. The Soular Jazz Foundation also awards scholarships to high school seniors interested in majoring sustainability.
Mark Shilansky - piano
Mark Shilansky is a prolific musician, having appeared on over 60 recordings as producer, composer, arranger, pianist, and/or vocalist. He has also performed with Jamie Baum, Jerry Bergonzi, the New York Voices, Rebecca Parris, Luciana Souza, David Thorne Scott, Syncopation, Lisa Thorson, Kenny Wheeler, Adrian Sicam, and Patrice Williamson at such venues as Regattabar, Scullers, Ryles, the International Association for Jazz Education convention, Birdland, and the Blue Note Jazz Club
Recordings as leader include First Look (1997), Different Songs (2000), Other Voices (2003), Join the Club (2007), and Fugue Mill (2013).
Mr. Shilansky is an Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music.
Keala Kaumeheiwa - bass
Bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa was born in Oswego, New York and was raised in Marquette, Michigan. He received a Bachelor's of Music Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied both jazz and classical music with renowned bassist Richard Davis.
From Wisconsin, Keala moved to New York City, where he performed with the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. After moving to the Boston area, Mr. Kaumeheiwa studied jazz bass and improvisation with legendary bassist Ron Carter as part of the inaugural class of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at New England Conservatory. Meanwhile, he continued his classical bass studies with virtuoso bassist Donald Palma.
While at the Monk Institute, Keala performed with Jimmy Heath, Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Watson, Harry "Sweets" Edison, and James Moody. Since 2001, Keala has been an Affiliated Artist at MIT, teaching Jazz Combo Ensembles. He has performed throughout Italy, at the Havana Jazz Festival as well as freelancing around Boston, frequently performing at Sculler's Jazz Club, Ryles, Wally's Jazz Cafe and the Regattabar.
Saturday, February 9, 2019, 7:00 - 8:30
George Russell, Jr.: 90 Minutes of Joy
George Russell, Jr.
A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Inspirational Jazz Pianist George W. Russell, Jr. is a performer, a composer, and an educator.
George began taking piano lessons when he was 7 years old. Along with studying formally, he had the fortune of growing up playing at his local church. There was no written music at church, so he was given the opportunity to develop his ear.
As George continued studying music in college, he discovered jazz and the harmonies that were used in jazz. It was then that he began to understand, from a theoretical view point, what exactly he was playing, both in church and from his classical repertoire. In that period of time, George’s unique fusion of Gospel and Jazz was beginning to form.
His performances range from a solo piano, to a groove- oriented jazz trio, to a soulful, fresh-sounding larger ensemble that arouses the listener's intellect and, most importantly, touches their soul. His playing is filled with passion, fire, soul and, most of all, spirit.
George will often refer to himself as "a drummer who happens to plays the piano." This is made clear when you hear the strong sense of rhythm that envelops each and every performance.
George began teaching private piano lessons at the age of 16. This love for teaching encouraged George to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Music Education at Duquesne University. After graduating from Duquesne, he realized three very important things. First of all, teaching music to grades 1-12 in a school system was not conducive to a performing career. Secondly, He still loved teaching but wanted to do so on a college level. Lastly, He was not satisfied with his development as a musician. This lead him to continue his study of music and pursue a Masters degree in Jazz Studies at the New England Conservatory.
While in grad school, George taught at local community music schools and eventually acquired a job as a piano instructor at Tufts University. He then went on to Chair the Jazz department at the New England Conservatory Extension Division. He also served as the Chair of the Jazz Department at the Pennsylvania’s Governor’s School for the Arts for over 20 years.
Currently George is the Chair of the Harmony and Jazz Composition Department at the Berklee College of Music. Prior to becoming Chair, He served as a Professor of Harmony and Piano at Berklee. George has been awarded the Ted Pease Award for Excellence in Teaching, along with the Curriculum Development Award for the Writing Division. George has also been recognized with the highest award that Berklee gives to faculty, the Most Distinguished Faculty Award.
B.S., Duquesne University
M.M., New England Conservatory of Music
Performances with Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Ernie Isley, Cecil McBee, Semenya McCord, Bob Moses, Tiger Okoshi, Billy Pierce, Richard Smallwood, Stan Strickland, and Lenny White
Recordings include Schlickness, Worship in the Style of G, Jesus is the Cure, Communion Volume I, Communion Volume II, Sandra Dowe & the George W. Russell Jr. Trio, The Pianist & the Poet, and his self-titled album.
Finalist, Martial Solar International Jazz Piano Competition
Recipient, 2001 New England Conservatory of Music Gospel Music Award
Served as minister of music/chief musician for Jubilee (formerly New Covenant) Christian Church in Boston for 15 years
Performs his original program Clap Your Hands, a narrative concert about gospel music in America, in several school systems in Massachusetts under the auspices of Young Audiences of Massachusetts
Former chairman of the Jazz Department at the Pennsylvania Govenor's School for the Arts, 1986-2008
Awards include Berklee College of Music Distinguished Faculty Award, Curriculum Development Award, and Ted Pease Excellence in Teaching Award
Arranger/background vocalist on gold and platinum releases “Why Haven’t I Heard From You?” by Reba McIntyre; “We Shall Be Free” by Garth Brooks, “Addictive Love” by BeBe and CeCe Winans, and “House of Love” by Amy Grant
Recipient of Grammy nomination for Bigger World (WB), a Dove Award for Songs from the Loft (Reunion), and a 1993 Best Actress Award for the Circle Players’ performance of Sister Mary Regina (Nunsense)
Television appearances include Arsenio Hall, Tonight Show, and Grammy Awards
Missionary with International Christian Artists Reaching the Earth, Ghana
“Usually a person comes to Berklee as a voice student because they want a record deal . . . so that’s perfect for me because I can speak from experience on that topic. They may want to be a professional singer and go out on the road, or do jingles and session work, and I’ve done all that.”
“I realized that I have a special gift I bring to teaching, which is experience. Most people get out of school and begin to teach. They haven’t done 23 years of hacking away at it.”
“The students love me because I’ve gone through all those things and I still have the love to share with them. I’m not bitter, I’m not depressed, and I’m not crazy . . . well, I’m crazy, but . . . (LAUGHS). But they love the fact that I can still have fun and that I love the music. The music comes first, and then I still have a lot of attention, space, and joy left to share with them. That’s what they love. And that’s a gift. I don’t claim that; I just accept it, maintain it, and manage it because I know that it’s a gift from God. I know it is.”
Patrice Williamson: Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald
Patrice Williamson’s childhood home in Memphis, Tennessee was filled with song. Her late father, Webster Williamson, an avid amateur singer, choir director, and pillar of the St. Stephen’s Baptist Church music ministry, introduced his children to both sacred music and the secular styles of greats like Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and Lena Horne. With the encouragement of her mother, Lillie Rivers Williamson, Patrice followed in the footsteps of her elder sister, Denise, taking up the violin and making her debut at age four, playing a duet with her sister in front of the St. Stephen's congregation.
From then on, she was hooked on music and performing. To her violin studies, she added piano (at age seven) and flute (at 11). She imagined herself growing into a world-famous concert artist: "I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would say to Johnny Carson the first time I played the flute on ‘The Tonight Show.’"
Patrice carried the dream into her teens, but chose a "practical" major, communications, when she enrolled at the University of Tennessee. In her second year, however, she realized her heart was elsewhere and decided to major in music. "I remember having to make that phone call home," she says. "I wasn't sure what my parents reaction would be." As it happened, they were supportive. "Well, it's about time," said Lillie. "I didn't know what you were doing in broadcasting when you've been in music all your life."
Her focus remained on classical performance; she served as principal flutist for the opera and symphony orchestras. It wasn’t until the conductor of the UT Studio Jazz Orchestra overheard her scatting during a rehearsal break, and immediately offered her a vocal solo, that she considered singing as a possible career path. Encouraged by UT faculty jazz pianist Donald Brown, she headed to New England Conservatory to focus full-time on her voice, under the guidance of award-winning RCA recording artist Dominique Eade.
In Boston, Patrice hit the ground running. Before her Master’s degree studies were complete, she was weighing rival offers for a four-month performance engagement at Somerset’s Bar in Singapore (the country’s premier jazz venue) and further studies at NEC in the school’s prestigious Artist Diploma program. In the end, she managed to do both.
A regular at Boston’s celebrated Regattabar since1996, she has also appeared in the company of Tony Bennett, James Moody, and Cassandra Wilson at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival; and Danilo Perez and Kevin Mahogony at the Marblehead Jazz Festival. Around the U.S., she’s been heard at Boston’s Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall, Hatch Shell, and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; as well as the IDB Cultural Center Concert Series in Washington, DC.
Singapore, having had a taste of her, wanted more; and Patrice has since returned to the scene of her first triumph as a special guest performer in the nation’s New Year’s Eve Millennium Celebration; and as part of the Eden Project, an international group of female jazz improvisers who rocked the International Women’s Forum in March 2000.
The critics and the jazz community have not been slow to recognize that this talent is for real.
The response to her debut recording, My Shining Hour (released in September 1998) has been overwhelmingly positive, drawing favorable comparisons to legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. She was honored with a coveted "Best of Boston" award in 1997, and in 1999 and 2000 was a nominee for "Best Jazz Vocalist" by the Kahlua Boston Music Awards.
Her former teachers, now senior colleagues, are quick with their own praise. Says Dominique Eade, "Patrice is a hard-swinging interpreter and a refreshingly accomplished jazz vocal improviser." Ran Blake, head of NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation department, sums it up: "It’s a breathtaking voice."
Jazz at the Music Room
First Parish Unitarian Church
40 Church St.
Northborough, MA 01532
Saturday, October 13, 2018, 7:00 - 9:30
Fabiola Mendez Trio
Fabiola Mari Méndez Quiñones was born on February 20, 1996. She started taking Puerto Rican cuatro classes at age 6.
She was a student at the Humacao Musical Institute, the Antonio Paoli School of Music in Caguas, and the Conservatorio de Artes del Caribe. In 2018, she got her Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music, becoming the first student to graduate with the Puerto Rican cuatro as principal instrument.
Fabiola has participated in several cuatro competitions winning prizes in all of them, including being selected as the winner of the “National Cuatro Player Competition” in 2011 by the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture. In addition, she has participated in multiple recordings. Foremost among them are: Banco Popular Christmas CD “Eco” (2008), Fabiola Mendez & Herencia Criolla (2009), Ready for Departure (2014), and Guille & the B.Band (2015).
In addition, Fabiola has had the chance of playing large venues in both Puerto Rico and the United States. The most noteworthy of these include: Cuatro Festival in California (2008), Three Kings Day Concert with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra (2011), Puerto Rican State Inauguration Ceremony (2013), Heineken Ventana al Jazzfest (2015), Totó la Momposina meets Berklee (2015), Jolgorio Navideño (2016), and Pedro Capó live at La Fábrica (2018).
Fabiola has had the privilege of receiving acknowledgements such as the dedication of the Mapeye Festival 2011, the Quincy Jones Award 2016, ambassador at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC 2018, and a commendation from the PR House of Representatives for being the first Puerto Rican cuatro player to graduate from Berklee.
2018 Soular Jazz Festival
Saturday, June 16, 11 - 6
First Parish Unitarian Church
40 Church Street
Friday, April 6, 2018
Vocalist Lisa Thorson has performed on radio, stage and in film and television for over thirty five years. Jazz Legend Sheila Jordan calls Lisa "one of the most exciting jazz singers on the scene today".
Lisa has toured throughout the U.S., Canada and Italy as a concert artist and jazz vocal clinician. Lisa has released six jazz recordings as a leader. Her most recent, 2014’s Lisa Thorson Quartet Live received unanimous critical acclaim and international airplay.
Friday, February 2, 2018
The Gringo Kings CD release concert
The Gringo Kings walk the knife's edge between Salsa music and high-minded jazz. The eight musicians comprising the band are assembled from Boston's vibrant jazz scene and dispense humor and grace via Harlow's originals and classic pop covers, ranging from Chicago to The Beatles.
Friday, December 1, 2017, 2017
Marco Pignataro Almas Antiguas Quartet
Friday, October 6, 2017 @ 7 PM
Paul Broadnax trio