Jazz Up Close

Click here to read WNPR’s profile of Jazz Up Close series

We are excited to announce the 2019 Jazz Up Close series, “Can I Get A Witness – Jazz Composition as Storytelling,” a series of events presenting jazz artists who explore personal narratives and stories through music.  Featuring guest artists Sanah Kadoura, Joe Locke, Todd Marcus, and Gerald Cleaver.


One of RMI’s missions is to give people REAL access to the soul and beauty of jazz music. We say “real” access because often simply having a concert occur in a particular community isn’t enough (though it is certainly an important component). Jazz, and especially instrumental jazz, has a layer of abstraction that can initially be off-putting to some would-be listeners. BUT, we have found that this can often be overcome just by giving those folks a bit of understanding – what’s going on in the music, what’s the inspiration behind it and who are the real humans creating it? This is not an academically hoity-toity question of deeply understanding history and theory (though for those motivated accordingly those are exceptionally stimulating areas), this is a much simpler matter of giving people who have ears and emotions a few basic tools with which they can connect those things – to feel the depth of emotions evoked by these sounds.

This is the basis of the Jazz Up Close idea. The artists explain their process and inspiration and attendees get to engage in meaningful dialogue. If you have musical training, great. If you have none whatsoever, great. This access requires nothing more than attentiveness and curiosity.  In past seasons, we’ve featured great talents and communicators such as Freddie Bryant, Steve Wilson, Meg Okura, and Victor Lewis.

MCAFor 2019, mark your calendars for April 18 with drummer/composer Sanah Kadoura, June 1 with vibraphonist/composer Joe Locke, August 22 with bass clarinetist/composer/activist Todd Marcus and October 19 with drummer/composer Gerald Cleaver. As always, these events take place at the Russell Library in Middletown, CT and are free and open to the public. We are grateful to again have received a REGI grant to support this work, through the CT Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.


Just because a season of Jazz Up Close has passed, it doesn’t diminish the importance of the mission, the messages, or the lasting legacy of the performances.  Please check out previous seasons including stellar performances from and compelling discussions with our guest artists.

2015 Season (Freddie Bryant, Johnathan Blake, Steve Wilson, Nadje Noordhuis)

2016 Season (Caroline Davis, Monnette Sudler, Steve Wilson, Godwin Louis)

2017 Season (Sunny Jain, Meg Okura with Sam Newsome, Rogerio Boccato, Robby Ameen)

2018 Season (Amanda Monaco, Hailey Niswanger, Joseph Daley, Ike Sturm)