Lizz Wright and Evan Christopher

This Sommerfest performance features two jazz up-and-comers in separate pairings with the Minnesota Orchestra. Lizz Wright, from small-town Georgia, is imbued with a sultry, dusky, earthy vocal style strongly rooted in gospel, but marbled with jazz, soul, and blues. She initially made her mark doing a Billie Holiday tribute, and subsequently released a trio of albums on Verve. She'll have a new one this fall, Fellowship, which is full of gospel standards, plus covers of Clapton, Hendrix, and Sweet Honey's Bernice Reagon, mother of her key collaborator, Toshi Reagon. Clarinetist Evan Christopher, a master of traditional New Orleans jazz, will perform the premiere of his Treat It Gentle Suite, a Minnesota Orchestra commission employing the endangered language of Creole clarinet icons like Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds, and Jimmie Noone. Christopher is a charismatic performer and virtuoso clarinetist who looks for innovative ways to invigorate trad styles. He did it wonderfully with Django Reinhardt's Hot Club repertoire, infusing it with rhythms borrowed from New Orleans down through Brazil. His new piece was written for orchestra and jazz band, which will include New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield as well as members of Minnesota Crescent City-style brass bands Jack and Mama Digdown's. (Photo by Jim McGuire)
Fri., July 23, 8 p.m., 2010

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