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Broadway flair on tap for ‘Spring Pops’

Broadway star Capathia Jenkins and jazz vocalist/pianist Tony DeSare will join the Maui Pops Orchestra Sunday at Maui Arts & Cultural Center. BRANDON MARSHALL photo

The Maui Pops Orchestra will present its annual “Spring Pops” concert on Sunday highlighting the Great American Songbook, with featured guests Broadway star Capathia Jenkins and jazz vocalist/pianist Tony DeSare.

Acclaimed as one of Broadway’s most dynamic talents, Jenkins starred as Medda in the Tony-winning musical “Newsies.” Her Broadway roles have also included “The Look of Love,” “The Civil War” and “Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me.”

Jenkins had the honor of performing in the “Broadway Ambassadors to Cuba” concert as part of the Festival De Teatro De La Habana and has appeared several times at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops and sang in a Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch at the Library of Congress.

Along with her theater productions, Jenkins performs as a jazz/pop duo with guitarist Louis Rosen. A Chicago Tribune review noted: “Capathia Jenkins’ soaring voice sweet, smart, sassy and full of soul warmed the hearts of everyone in the audience.” And Bloomberg News review summed up, “Jenkins will knock you flat.”

Jenkins’ TV roles included NBC’s live production of “The Wiz,” starring Queen Latifah, Common, and Mary J. Blige.

Toby Walker has been lauded as one of the world’s best fingerstyle acoustic guitarists. He performs Friday in Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s McCoy Studio Theater.

Named the 2009 Rising Star Male Vocalist by Downbeat magazine, DeSare is an accomplished award-winning composer. He won first place in the USA Songwriting Contest, and has recorded four top-ten Billboard jazz albums. His latest album, “Lush Life,” debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Chart. Along with standards by Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, he recorded a great jazz version of Prince’s “Kiss.”

His movie and TV work includes composing the theme song for the movie, “My Date With Drew,” along with soundtracks for the Hallmark Channel’s “Love Always,” and Lifetime’s “Nanny Nightmare.”

A recent AP News review of DeSare’s tribute concert to Frank Sinatra praised: “When DeSare closed the first half of the concert with ‘My Way,’ it was difficult to imagine that wasn’t ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ singing.” A New York Times review described DeSare’s style as “two parts young Sinatra, to one part Billy Joel.”

“I’m just happy that I get to do what I like to do,” he told Virginia’s Daily Press. “It becomes a lovefest of appreciation for this art form. We’re all part of the magic.”

The Sunday concert will feature the music of George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and more. Selections will include “Strike Up the Band,” “Fascinating Rhythm,” “Sunny Side of the Street,” “Blue Moon,” and “Get Happy.”

* The Maui Pops Orchestra’s Spring Pops concert is presented on Sunday at 3 p.m. in MACC’s Castle Theater. Tickets are $22, $35, $50, and $60 (plus applicable fees) and half-price for students 18 and under with ID except for $22 seats. Tickets available at MACC Box Office, by phone at 242-SHOW and at mauiarts.org.

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Backed by some of our top jazz musicians, John Cruz was one of the highlights of Steve Grimes’ “The One Grand Party,” at the King Kamehameha Golf Club’s Waikapu Ballroom on Saturday. Excited about performing with our jazz players, Cruz said he was looking forward to recording some new songs. The jazz group included brother and sister, keyboardist Sal Godinez and percussionist Estaire Godinez, who have a new group which will play at the Maui Coffee Attic on April 11.

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Toby Walker has been lauded as one of the world’s best fingerstyle acoustic guitarists. Fellow roots music guitarists praising him include Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen (“I’m blown away”) and John Hammond (“a real killer with fantastic technique, he just knocks me out”).

“Superlative as a slide guitarist and finger-picker, his stylistic repertoire seems limitless,” praised The Country Blues. “Equal parts instrumentalist, singer and storyteller, Toby Walker plays with the grit and truehearted feeling of a man whose heart and soul lives and knows the blues.”

Blending blues, ragtime, country, bluegrass, old-time jazz and rock, Walker has developed his own style and as such received numerous awards.

For two decades he would travel down South to apprentice with the old-school bluesmen, learning finger picking and slide methods, syncopations, rhythms and tunings directly from the last generation of blues pioneers. They included old masters like R.L. Burnside, Eugene Powell (aka Sonny Boy Nelson), James “Son” Thomas, Etta Baker, and Turner Fuddrell.

“When I was in high school, I was one of the only kids that I knew that got into the acoustic side of the blues,” he told Blues Blast Magazine. “I felt like I had stumbled onto my own little Treasure Island.”

Reviewing his album “Mileage,” Sing Out! noted: “Toby takes us on an excursion through America’s roots music. Chestnuts like ‘Short’nin’ Bread’ and the Appalachian folk song ‘Shady Grove’ offers new perspectives. Toby also shares tunes from Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Lemon Jefferson and a delightful rendition of Fat’s Waller’s ‘Lulu’s Back in Town’.”

*Toby Walker performs on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in MACC’s McCoy Studio Theater. Tickets are $38 and $48 (plus applicable fees).

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Muslim rapper Brother Ali heads to Mulligan’s on the Blue on Friday. Rapping since the age of 8, Ali told Huck magazine, “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been into hip hop. I started beatboxing when I was about 7 years old. Eventually, that led to me falling in love with the words.”

Ali converted to Islam at age 15, crediting his conversion to fellow hip hop musician KRS-One, and his suggestion to read the autobiography of Malcolm X. In his music he has focused on themes of racial inequality, oppression, and slavery, while spreading hope, acceptance, and the need to rise above sorrow.

In 2015, Ali endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, and in Nov. 2019, he performed at a Sanders rally in Minneapolis.

Ali released the acclaimed underground rap album “Secrets & Escapes” last year. Recorded in three sessions working with chopped up old jazz and soul samples, Ali poured out rhymes live, without writing or organizing them into songs. Guests included Talib Kweli and Pharoahe Monch.

Reviewing his 2017 album “All the Beauty in This Whole Life,” AllMusic praised: “Ali returns with a record that never shies away from facing injustice but focuses on a different aspect of activism: inner transformation. That’s not a new age slogan but ancient wisdom carried from Tao to Gandhi to MLK; Ali brings it down the pipe with the hammer of compassion.”

Show at 7 p.m., doors open at 6. Tickets are $29.50, plus fees and taxes, available at eventbritie.com.

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Winners of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Calder Quartet performs on March 12 at 7:30 p.m. in MACC’s McCoy Studio Theater. Hailed as “imaginative, skillful creators,” by the New York Times, the Quartet includes Benjamin Jacobson, violin; Tereza Stanislav, violin; Jonathan Moerschel, viola; and Eric Byers, cello. The musicians have performed either as soloists with the Cleveland Orchestra or the LA Philharmonic.

In addition to performances of the complete Beethoven and Bartok quartets, the Calder Quartet’s dedication to commissioning new works has given rise to premieres of dozens of string quartets by established and up-and-coming composers.

Works at their Maui concert include Mozart’s “G Major K. 387, Anders Hillborg’s “Kongsgaard Variations,” and Beethoven’s “Quartet Op. 127.”

Reviewing one of their performances the Washington Post praised: “Few string quartets can command the stage like the Calder Quartet.”

Tickets are $40, and $50 with a 10 percent discount for MACC members and half-price kids younger than 12 (plus applicable fees).

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