Retired Albemarle High School music director Greg Thomas will have candid and revealing conversations with former students who have gone on to play professionally, as well as local and regional musicians. Featured during each program will be never-before-aired recordings and other musical surprises. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the legendary Charlottesville jazz scene from one of its educational leaders.
Monday will feature Veronica Swift. At age 25, Veronica Swift has become one of the world’s most sought-after jazz talents. Having grown up on the road with her parents- jazz pianist Hod O’Brien and jazz vocalist Stephanie Nakasian- she was exposed to some of the greatest musicians of the time; Annie Ross, Jon Hendricks, Bob Dorough, Paquito d’Rivera, and Marilyn Maye. At age nine, Swift recorded her first album “Veronica’s House of Jazz,” and began professionally touring with her parents as well as singing and playing trumpet in the youth jazz group “The Young Razzcals Jazz Project.” It was with the Young Razzcals she had her first opportunity to perform on festival stages like the Telluride Jazz Festival and would for the next ten years. At age 11, after recording her second album “It’s Great to be Alive,” she headlined her first show at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Swift continued touring throughout her years in College, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Miami in 2016. Just before graduating, and the passing of her father, Swift was awarded second place at the Thelonious Monk 2015 Jazz Vocal Competition landing her a showcase at the esteemed Birdland Jazz Club in New York City. She then moved to New York in 2017 to continue pursuing her growing career. Maintaining a weekly residency at Birdland, Veronica toured internationally and joined the lineup on the show of Trumpeter Chris Botti. The past few years, she has toured and performed on numerous occasions with Michael Feinstein, Benny Green, Wynton Marsalis, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, appearing at legendary festivals (Montreal, Monterey, Umbria, Detroit, Marciac…) and jazz clubs (Birdland, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Jazz Showcase, Jazz Standard, SF Jazz, JALC Shanghai, Blue Note…). In 2018, Veronica signed a deal with Mack Avenue Recordings and released her 2019 album “Confessions” with them. In addition to singing bebop and Great American Songbook classics, Veronica is also a passionate devotee of the 20’s and 30’s repertoire and opera as well as rock and roll and metal. Swift also writes and acts in her films she makes with Darkstone Entertainment. In 2020, Swift will release her next album on Mack Avenue with her regular touring trio: The Emmet Cohen Trio.
Wednesday will feature Charles Owens. Charles Owens is a master tenor saxophonist, composer, band leader, recording artist, and educator and has been performing, composing, and teaching professionally for over 25 years. After attending the New School and living as a professional musician in New York City from 1992 to 2004, he is currently living in Charlottesville, VA. Charles is an integral part of the vibrant music scene there and in Richmond VA. He also travels back to New York City several times a year to perform with his trio at venues such as Smalls, The Django, Fat Cat and others. He has made 8 albums as a leader and appeared on numerous recordings as a hired soloist. He’s performed with such jazz luminaries as Brad Mehldau, Mark Turner, Omer Avital, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Brian Blade, Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings, Ari Hoenig, Alexander Claffy, Jeff Watts, and Joel Frahm among many others. He has devoted his life to pursuing excellence in music and bringing peace and happiness to his fellow humans with his saxophone playing, performing, and composing.
Friday will feature Will Evans. Trumpeter, improviser, and composer, Will Evans is from Charlottesville and has been playing trumpet for eight years. In this short time, Will has earned a reputation as an emerging jazz talent, winning multiple accolades and sharing the stage with top Virginia jazz masters including John D’earth, Art Wheeler, Charles Owens, Michelle Oliva, Devonne Harris, and the prestigious Albemarle High School Jazz Band directed by Greg Thomas. He is a four-time All-Virginia Jazz honoree and former winner of the top soloist award at the prestigious Chantilly Jazz Festival. Will is currently in his second year of studies at the Manhattan School of Music where he is a student of master trumpeter, Ingrid Jensen.