Originally from Columbus, OH, Sam Blakeslee has recently finished his classes at YSU and is set to graduate in August. Sam is a member of Mojo: The Generations Big Band, Dennis Reynoldsʼ Heritage Jazz Orchestra, and Ron Chickʼs Friends Big Band. He has also been very active on the Cleveland freelance scene where he has had the pleasure to play with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, Sean Jones, Jim Rupp, The Paul Ferguson Jazz Orchestra, Ernie Krivdaʼs Big Fat Tuesday Big Band, Up Ensemble, Bobby Sanabria, Carol Morgan, Bobby Selvaggioʼs Hendectet, The Brad Wagner Sextet, Dave Morgan, Nathan Douds, Theron Brown, Chris Coles, and also has recorded with the pop group O.A.R.
" In the spring of 2010, Sam was chosen to be one of fifteen people nationwide to attend the Steans Institute for the Young Artist at Ravinia where he studied with Rufus Reid, Curtis Fuller, Dr. Nathan Davis, and Dr. David Baker. In the summer of 2010 Sam performed at the Parma Jazz Festival in Parma, Italy with an alumni group from the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra. His arrangement of the bassist George Mrazʼ composition "Blues For Sarka" was performed by the University of Akron Jazz Ensemble in a concert that featured George Mraz as a guest artist.
This past April he was accepted into Betty Carterʼs Jazz Ahead Residency at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C where he had the chance to study with Curtis Fuller, Dr. Nathan Davis, George Cables, Chip Jackson, and Carmen Lundy.
Through that residency he performed on the Millennium Stage to a worldwide audience.
Upon graduation Sam plans to attend the University of Akron on a graduateassistantship and then move to New York City.An Incredible Bio from someone so young. So Many Names to Drop, So Much Time toward Serious Study, but I'm not easily impressed. Does he have heart, emotion, integrity, spirit, emphasis, strength and the only component that really matters is Jazz...can he swing???You can rest assured Brother & Sister Jazz Fan, that component alone is why Sam Blakeslee is kicking off this year's Fest.The Brother Can Blow....
Today Marks Two Weeks to Go Before The Big Jazz Fest gets underway and the excitement is B U I L D I N G ! ! !
Today was also the day our very wonderful volunteers met for the first time under the Pergola on The Common to Assign & Accept our various responsibilities for game day. No stone was left uncovered as we thoroughly scoured our agenda. There was excellent Q&A, great camaraderie and eager anticipation about what's about to happen.
My deepest appreciation to Rose Marie, Adrian, Dana (Our New Boss!), Dale, Lori & Paul (...and Tom) who are going to spearhead the entire team and make sure things run triple smooth so you can experience Youngstown's Best. On Stage & Off!
Subtle, Sensuous, Sincere.
To be able to take a song, a phrase, a word... and personalize it yet while doing so, retaining the ability to transform that moment into a captivating experience to listener. We each have our favorite. You are about to add one to your list.
Her Music, Lyrics, Emotion and Style carry with them the truth that she believes what's she's singing. With Material ranging from Dionne to Sade to Roberta to her own sensational "Life Songs," Antoinette expresses her heart. Her debut, "Verbal Crush" was produced by none other than Norman "You Are My Starship" Connors with an emotional single featuring R&B icon Howard Hewitt burning up the airwaves, Antoinette was on her way. Her follow up "Curious Life" with Grammy Award Winning Producer Roger Hatfield continues her love for genre bending Adult Contemporary Jazz.
Although Antoinette is bringing flavor from her native Pittsburgh, her Jazz Fest Line Up will include Hatfield on saxophone, himself a long time Trumbull County resident now living in Southwest Ohio promoting his new release "Faster Buffalo." She will also feature the incomparable Youngstown Jazz Legend Cliff Barnes on Piano and his cool brother Nate on Bass.
Get Ready for The Chill of Your Life with Antoinette!
As I write this we are just 19 Days Away from the Jazz Fest and Excitement continues to Rise. As You May Know, The Summer Festival of the Arts, The Greek Festival, The Tour of The Valley Bike Race and many other great events are making for an incredibly Wonderful Weekend in Downtown Youngstown! And As you can imagine, parking is going to be, well, let's just say, interesting...
So thanks to a 3D Map from the YSU website, I'm going to aid you in securing parking that would be to your best advantage so you make the absolute most of the weekend particularly (and the Jazz Fest specifically!)
Please Click the Image Below to see the 3D formation of YSU. It will open in a new page so you can continue to read along while viewing the map (depending upon your browser). It is an interactive map so that you can click on a certain building or section to 'zoom in' to your perspective area. Special Thanks to YSU for the use of their great map!
Please notice immediately the bottom of the map. See Walnut Street (lower left) - See "M15" & "M14" - These Are Parking Lots you will be able to Park In - Please Note: The Street will be closed just beyond "M14." The Next Building You See is The MVR. The larger adjacent Building (to the right) is The Parking Deck "M1" - BUT - You Can Only Access it via Wick Ave - And there IS a Parking Charge in that facility - However, as you can see - after parking, you will be able to enter down onto Walnut and across the street onto Harrison Common - (Note: that property is presently unmarked - but it's right there!)
Please Understand Again - For Clarity - that the perimeter around the Common will be closed off to thru traffic - the only vehicles permitted will be security, bands, production crew and festival volunteers. The Parking Lot immediately adjacent to The Common will be for those vehicles only. There are houses in the vicinity and, of course, the University Courtyard Apartments. Those vehicles will be appropriately routed for the advantage of those residents. I Do Hope This Helps
Finally, I was reminded to share that although The Jazz Fest is a Family Event, unfortunately Fido should be encouraged to remain at home. You can always keep the Music on For Him/Her and Hook them up with downloads from the tremendous artists performing at the fest, so Fido won't feel so left out!.
Doing A Daily Blog is Difficult, but it has already created a degree of discipline I will begin applying to my other creative writing endeavors. What I've learned so far is how certain information can slip through the cracks, as my inbox has been inundated with a few questions I thought I'd addressed, but clarity is ALWAYS in order - so here goes...
I mentioned the Absolutely Excellent Music - Check!
Mentioned You Bringing Your Lawn Chairs, Blankets, Beach Umbrellas and Portable Tents - Check!
Blogged About The MVR being Across The Street for your to Purchase any alcoholic beverages you may wish to enjoy (as there will be no alcohol allowed on The Commons) - Check!!
I Forgot to Mention that You Are Welcome to Bring Your Own Picnic Baskets, Coolers, Sandwiches & Snacks!!
While Our Friends @ The MVR will be providing the absolute best in casual dining (as they always do) with extended boundaries for you to enjoy the show from their property, you are more than welcome to come to The Jazz Fest packed with your own spread as well.
Please Note: In Order to preserve a safe environment for all attendees, all such packages are subject to inspection by YSU Campus Police and designated Security. We Appreciate your Cooperation in Advance.
And remember to bring enough for me....
OK - I admit that as I type this, I am sitting in front of the tube awaiting the news. I've placed the remote at my right to switch between the four TV channels we have in our humble market to see which station will mention the Super Weekend in Downtown Youngstown on July 9th & 10th, which includes The Summer Festival of The Arts, The Tour of The Valley Bike Race and of course, the Jazz Fest. All FREE Events.
This morning we hosted our Official Press Conference at Harrison Common and were pleasantly surprised and appreciative that each member of the media invited obliged us. We wish to thank 570 WKBN AM Radio, The Business Journal, WFMJ-TV21, WYTV-TV33, WKBN-TV27 and The Vindicator. Also in attendance were the Wick Neighbors, First Ward Councilwoman Annie Gillam and other invited guests.
What remained paramount in my mind as each of us took our turn at the podium was how quickly Phil, Lori, Lyndsey & I were able to put together the logistics surrounding such a huge undertaking - everything happening without a hitch - ON TOP OF our
already near cataclysmic schedules. The secret, I believe, is our commitment to making sure our valley enjoys the greatest opportunities for quality entertainment & activities. With that ideal as our primary motivation, we were off and running with the steam picking up with every step! Secondly, we simply make a great team. We were able to discuss all of the pertinent items with enthusiasm, each respectfully accountable to each other and everyone completed their assignment. On Time. Team Works!
So Far, WYTV-33, WKBN-TV27 & 570 WKBN Radio have mentioned us...but there's always tomorrow's news!
Tonight I felt I should offer a brief explanation about why we picked the wonderful artists we've chosen for this year's Jazz Fest - and OK, I guess a degree of transparency is in order, being that I am a musician - and that it's no secret that I am personally involved with one of the groups appearing.
Having had the opportunity to tour, perform overseas and to participate at length with some "Major Label" Artists, most of which were pleasant experiences, some not so much; what's incredibly obvious from those instances is that while The Majors always (and perhaps - SHOULD - note: I did say perhaps) get the most exposure, biggest paychecks, best dressing rooms and all of the perks in similar jazz festivals, the utter disparity between 'the little' artists who are in most instances far more talented and professional than the Major Label dudes they are opening up for is sometimes mind-boggling (think Twilight Zone...)
So, when presented with the task to choose the entertainment, I thought a different approach should be implemented. With Spyro Gyra's brilliant display of why they've been trendsetters in Modern Jazz for the past 30 years last year, coupled with the tenacity of David Benoit's aggressive band still in my head, I knew I had to come up with a "Killer Line Up" that, still somewhat under the radar of Star Status (although, each group has performed or recorded with an artist of note) would absolutely WOW You with their performance prowess. I also wanted to put together a show that would rival what the larger surrounding cities are presenting, while simultaneously appealing to every sub-genre that Jazz has to offer...only with completely INDEPENDENT ARTISTS!
Yes, that's right, each of these Artists have No Major Label Funding, No International Distribution, No Corporate Pocketbooks backing them - but each and everyone of them have to sing for their supper each night by doing their own booking, promotion, management & marketing and selling their product from city to city while playing their patooties off, honing their craft.
Through this blog, you'll get to know a little more about each one and I invite you to visit their websites (Click The Bands Tab on This Site) and purchase their music in advance, so you'll have the pleasure of enjoying them while you wait for them to light up the stage.
To whet your whistle a little - check out the video below by Phillip K Jones II - a Graduate of Oberlin College Conservatory, this young, unsung genius of the piano plays a famous hymn three different ways - Gospel, Classical & Jazz - yet - he's not represented by a "major" - so Niayana Recordings picked him up (another company I have some dealings with) and we are certainly happy to present him to you. You're going to Love The Video - You're Going to Appreciate his God Given Talent - AND You're certainly going to go bananas over the band he brings to town on July 9th.
This Year's Jazz Fest promises to foster a Family Friendly, Easy Going, Comfortable Environment where the Community can just Come Together and Hang Out!!
Firstly, it's a FREE Event. Yup! All this Great Entertainment purely for the benefit of Enjoying Each Other's Company! I don't want to get too sentimental here, but jazz music in all of its complexities is simply about collaboration. The musicians & singers gather onstage to new find ways to explore harmony and (musically) discuss (chord) progressions, expansion and interpret rhythm & melody. So we wanted to create an atmosphere where interaction between the artists & the audience - and the audience among themselves is optimal. Feel Free to bring your Lawn Chairs, Your Blankets, Your Beach Umbrellas (to shield the sun) and be prepared to pick out your own spot on the lawn to get comfortable.
We also personally invite you to bring your Entire Family. Bring The Children. Bring The Grandparents! Let the Youth experience the truth of trained musicians playing their instruments and the variety of colors that jazz brings to the musical palette. There's going to be music for those from 8 to 89 and it will be an experience the family should appreciate together.
For that reason, we have been intentional about making the Harrison Common an Alcohol Free Zone. For those who wish to indulge, you may do so across the street at The MVR Restaurant, but you will not be permitted to bring your alcoholic purchases on The Commons. The MVR Management has been kind enough to make special provisions on their property where you will still be able to enjoy the music while enjoying your beverage.
Food will also be available for purchase at The MVR. Their delicious variety of sandwiches and entrees will be just what you need to chow down as the grooves fill the night.
Finally, Jazz is also about Friendship! Rest assured that you are in a Safe, Clean, Well Maintained Space to Meet New Friends and deepen seasoned relationships. It's going to be the Greatest Jazz Fest in Our City's history, because You've chosen to Participate!
After receiving the final word from my good friend Lyndsey (Hughes) at the end of May that in spite of its best intentions, The City had decided to forego The Annual Jazz Fest, I resigned myself to securing other opportunities for the artists I represent, including my personal involvement in SounDoctrine. While I thoroughly understood that the partnerships secured by The City for last's year's event were no longer in place, I was a little disappointed as a jazz fan & participant that the fest was going bye-bye.
Thank The Lord my disappointment wasn't an isolated one!
Within a week of my previous conversation with Lyndsey, CEO of the Convention & Visitor's Bureau, Phil Moore (who I commonly refer to as 'Uncle Phil') began blowing my cell up to let me know that he had met with YSU's Lori Factor (Director of the Summer Arts Fest) at The Lemon Grove and were loosely discussing how cool it would be if the Jazz Fest would take place and what would be the factors (no pun intended) to make it happen. He continued to explain that just as they was talking, Lyndsey walked in and they began to share their thoughts. After Lyndsey mentioned our conversation, they decided to bring me into the mix.
Within days we met in Lori's office at YSU, settled on a quick budget, possible artists, sponsorship and production specifics. We agreed to meet again in four days and in the interim, all of my proposed artists were confirming their availability.
By the time we met again on the following Wednesday (again at The Lemon Grove), we were much farther than we expected and extremely optimistic that this Show was a GO!
1st) It was securing a Production Crew - Check! (Thanks to Mark Tirabassi of Hubbard Music for making an unbelievable offer)
2nd) Needing to secure the domain name and building this site - Check!
3rd) Confirming Proposed Sponsorship - Check & Continuing!
4th) And here's where YOU Come In - GETTING THE WORD OUT! So Tell Everyone YOU Know and Seven People You Don't!
I'll be adding to this blog daily to Keep You Up to Date - So Check Back, Tweet, Follow Respond & Facebook. Let's Make This The Biggest Jazz Fest Ever!