After presenting slack key guitar and ukulele fests on Lanai, filmmaker/concert promoter Ken Martinez Burgmaier will bring the inaugural Maui Jazz and Blues Festival to the Grand Wailea on Sept. 24.
Major artists performing include Les McCann, Javon Jackson, Delfeayo Marsalis, Tom Scott, Skip Martin and Brian Stoltz, along with local artists Brother Noland (fronting a blues band), David Choy & Slam, guitarist Henry Allen, Brittni Paiva, Benny Uyetake & the Kalama School Intermediate Ukulele Jazz Cats and the Zenshin Daiko Taiko Drummers.
Acclaimed as the godfather of funk jazz, keyboardist/vocalist Les McCann became a major crossover artist in the late 1960s, after the release of the live album "Swiss Movement." Featuring McCann, saxophonist Eddie Harris and trumpeter Benny Bailey at the 1968 Montreaux Jazz Festival, the recording included the funky anti-Vietnam War song "Compared To What," sung by McCann. Both the album and the single were huge Billboard pop chart successes.
Maui Jazz and Blues Festival photo
In 2002, McCann released "Pump It Up," a star-heavy celebration of funk and jazz with guests like Diane Reeves, Billy Preston, Maceo Parker and Bonnie Raitt.
Over the years his music had been sampled by artists as diverse as rapper The Notorious B.I.G., De La Soul and the U.K. electro-soul collective Massive Attack.
A former member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, saxophonist Javon Jackson, began working professionally at age 16, playing with former Max Roach Quintet pianist Billy Wallace.
The inaugural Maui Jazz & Blues Festival is presented at the Grand Wailea from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 24. General admission is $20 or $250 for a VIP table for 10. From 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 23, a VIP Jazz Dinner featuring Jazz and Blues Festival guests will be held under the stars. Call 875-1234 for reservations. Pre-fest performances include a Thursday Night Jazz Party at Stella Blues with David Choy & Slam on Sept. 22. Festival tickets may be purchased at the door, or online at www.MauiJazzAndBluesFesti val. com.
After Blakey's death he performed with a number of leading jazz artists including Freddie Hubbard and Elvin Jones. In recent years Jackson has often teamed with McCann, playing clubs and festivals.
Delfeayo Marsalis is recognized as one of the top trombonists, composers and producers in jazz today. A brother of Branford and Wynton of the legendary Marsalis family, he was hailed by the San Francisco Examiner as "one of the best, most imaginative and musical of the trombonists of his generation."
His credits include years of touring with Art Blakey, Abdullah Ibrahim, Max Roach and Elvin Jones. His latest album, "Sweet Thunder," is a modern interpretation of the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn suite "Such Sweet Thunder."
Legendary saxophonist Tom Scott has toured and recorded with musicians across the spectrum from Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Joni Mitchell, to Aretha Franklin, Pink Floyd, Quincy Jones and Steely Dan. A gifted jazz player, composer and Grammy Award winner, he's released more than 30 albums.
A former lead vocalist with Kool and the Gang, Skip Martin won a Grammy for his work with The Dazz Band. He currently tours with two all-star ensembles featuring the lead singers of top-selling bands - from the funk era in United We Funk with ConFunkshun's Michael Cooper, BarKay's Larry Dodson and SOS Band's Mary Davis; and the classic rock group Starship & Friends with Starship's Mickey Thomas, Survivor's Jimi Jamison and Toto's Bobby Kimball.
Known in New Orleans as the king of funk guitar, Brian Stoltz performed and recorded for years with the legendary Neville Brothers and now tours with the Funky Meters. A Grammy-winning composer, his recording credits include working with Bob Dylan, Edie Brickell, Linda Ronstadt and Dr. John.
Embarking on her first Maui tour, Americana roots rock musician Jenny Kerr will play through the weekend at Stella Blues, Charleys and at Casanova's Upcountry Sundays Manao Radio benefit.
A multi-instrumentalist, Kerr is adept at playing finger-style guitar, banjo, harmonica, piano and dobro, and is known for her spirited fusion of swamp rock, soul, honky- tonk and old-time blues.
"She's got a powerful soulfulness in her special brand of Americana, ala blues-rockers Janis Joplin and Delbert McClinton," praised an Ireland Country Music Plus album review. "This CD runs the musical gamut from blues-drenched rockers to tasty acoustic ballads with each a stunning showcase for her mesmerizing voice."
A San Francisco native, Kerr grew up attending shows by the likes of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters.
"I was about 13 years old and remember being shocked seeing Janis Joplin. It was astounding what she was doing," Kerr recalls. "I picked up a harmonica and guitar and started writing songs when I was very young, and then I started playing old-style hammer banjo and Delta-style guitar. I was also listening to the psychedelic music of the time."
Absorbing influences from blues legends such as Mississippi John Hurt and Little Walter, she says she "loved the mystery of the music. It informed what I do, but I'm not a traditionalist. I like to make it more current."
An English literature graduate from Sarah Lawrence, who also briefly studied at Oxford University, Kerr has been acclaimed for her finesse as a lyricist.
"Kerr is a gifted songwriter, bringing in the traditions of blues and honky tonk while retaining a singular voice that is honest and strong," noted a Country Standard Time review. "Her songs are personal and universal at once, with anthemic stories told simply and well."
"I wrote poetry for years," she says. "The lyrics are the most important thing for me."
A regular favorite on the country/blues/roots circuit, she has toured Europe seven times and headlined festivals in Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Holland, Switzerland and Mexico.
At her Maui gigs, she will be joined by her guitarist/partner Phil Milner, who grew up on Maui and played here in his younger years; bassist Dave Newman; (Maui) drummer Josh Greenbaum; and acclaimed guest guitarist Eric McFadden.
"Eric is a virtuosic instrumentalist," says Kerr. "We all look up to him."
"If San Francisco is home to anyone approaching the abilities of a modern Hendrix, it's Eric McFadden," raved a Guitar Player Magazine review. The Denver Post praised, "McFadden is a six-string virtuoso." And the San Francisco Weekly summed up: "Mercurial rock improvisations, sexy R&B rhythms, elegant gypsy jazz runs, whirling bluegrass fills, opulent classical chords and deep European mandolin strains flow effortlessly from McFadden's fingertips."
Over the years McFadden has performed with Eric Burdon and The Clash's Joe Strummer, and most recently with George Clinton's P-Funk.
The Jenny Kerr Band will play at 9:30 p.m. Friday at Stella Blues, with the Kihei Cowboys opening, $5 cover; at 10 p.m. Saturday at Charley's; and at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mana'o Radio's Upcountry Sundays at Casanova. They return to Casanova on Sept. 9, with a $10 cover.
Very exciting that the legendary Yardbirds play the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater on Friday, Sept. 16. Original guitarist Chris Dreja and drummer Jim McCarty are joined by three younger, dynamic musicians. The rejuvenated band has even received the seal of approval from former member Jimmy Page, who told Dreja that he was, "keeping the legend well alive."
One of the most influential and original bands of the 1960s, The Yardbirds reformed in the 1990s and in 2002, released an-all star guest-heavy comeback album featuring guitarists Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Slash and Queen's Brian May.
Reviewing their latest CD, "Live at B.B. King's," USA Today praised, "The Yardbirds defy the odds by boasting a singer who sounds uncannily like the late Keith Relf, only maybe more versatile; continuing to employ hotshot guitarists; and playing with a solid approximation of the fire and desire of the original band."
Tickets are $35, $45 and $55 plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.