Festival 2017

Announcing the Fifth Annual Jazz Festival at Yale!

We’re thrilled to announce the Fifth Annual Jazz Festival at Yale, a student-organized celebration of jazz, to be held April 22-23. All concerts and talks are open to the public and free of charge with no tickets required.

All events are funded by our sponsors, the University, local New Haven businesses, and the Yale University Art Gallery. The Jazz Collective would like to particularly thank our Platinum Sponsor the Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme, CT, one the country’s best clubs which programs amazing music all year round, as well as our Gold Sponsor, WPKN (89.5 FM), listener supported community radio.

Learn more about the incredible artists in our lineup below!



M’Balia: Saturday 4/22, 1pm discussion, 2pm performance

M’Balia Singley, Sara Slonim

Yale University Art Gallery (Robert L. McNeil, Jr Lecture Hall)–1111 Chapel St., New Haven


Adam O’Farrill’s Stranger Days:

Saturday 4/22, 7pm Workshop, 8pm Performance

Adam O’Farrill, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, Walter Stintson, Zack O’Farrill

Saybrook Underbrook Theater– 242 Elm St., New Haven, Entryway H


Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah:

Sunday 4/23, 2pm discussion, 3pm performance

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Braxton Cook, Lawrence Fields, Luques Curtis, and Thomas Pridgen

Yale University Art Gallery (Robert L. McNeil, Jr Lecture Hall)–1111 Chapel St., New Haven


Jazz Into Africa/Africa Into Jazz:

Sunday 4/23, 8pm

Richard Bona Trio

Randy Weston Sextet

Toad’s Place, 300 York St., New Haven







Parking Information:  Nearby parking lots can be found on Elm Street (272 Elm), on the median on Broadway, or near The Shops at Yale (255 Crown).  Limited street parking is also available on Chapel and York street.


2017 Lineup


Christian Scott

Poster: Adam Turkel

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is a two-time Edison Award winning (2010 and 2012) and Grammy Award nominated trumpeter, composer, producer and music executive.  Christian’s Grammy nominated international recording debut, Rewind That was called “arguably the most remarkable premiere the genre has seen in the last decade” and more recently he has been heralded by JazzTimes magazine as “Jazz’s young style God” and “the Architect of a new commercially viable fusion.”

Christian is known for developing the harmonic convention known as the “forecasting cell” and for his use of an un-voiced tone in his playing, emphasizing breath over vibration at the mouthpiece, widely referred to as his “whisper technique.” Christian is also widely recognized as one of the progenitors of “Stretch Music,” a jazz rooted, genre blind musical form that attempts to “stretch” jazz’s rhythmic, melodic and harmonic conventions to encompass as many other musical forms, languages and cultures as possible.

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is set to soon release three albums to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the very first Jazz recordings of 1917. Collectively titled The Centennial Trilogy, the series is at its core a sobering re-evaluation of the social political realities of the world through sound. The first release in the trilogy, Ruler Rebel, vividly depicts Adjuah’s new vision and sound – revealing Adjuah to the listener in a way never heard before via a completely new production methodology that Stretches Trap Music with West African and New Orleanian Afro-Native American styles.

Over the past decade Christian has also scored award winning films, designed an interactive media player called the Stretch Music App, and has collaborate with McCoy Tyner, Prince, Marcus Miller, Mos Def (Yasin Bey), and Solange Knowles among others.



You can learn more about Christian Scott and his music on his website: http://christianscott.tv/


Poster: Adam Turkel

M’Balia is a singer who approaches jazz standards with a “fiercely individualistic style and a generous dollop of gospel grounding”, and an “ace” songwriter with a caustic wit and piquant attitude born of lived experience.

M’Balia Singley grew up in Philadelphia as “the youngest daughter of two hard working Black folk from the South,” where piano, voice and guitar lessons were simply facts of life in the Singley household.  She studied history at Yale and law at Temple University, but never completely turned away from music. She sang in rock and a cappella groups by night while studying during the day, writing and performing on the singer-songwriter scene during a brief stint in New York City at places like the Nuyorican Poet Café. She played in wedding and party bands and recorded demos with a pre-fame John Legend – one of which, “Stay With Me,” made it onto his debut album and garnered a Grammy nomination.

Jobs and family briefly derailed M’Balia’s pursuit of a career in music, but it was also her two children that inspired her to rededicate herself to her first love in recent years. “Telling your children to go after their dreams is a cliché; I thought they should see me going after my dreams. They’ve seen that it’s not easy and there have been sacrifices, but it’s been honest. And that’s who I want to be.”

“Honest” is as good a one-word summation as one could come up with for the music on her latest release, Halfway There. Produced by her mentor, pianist Orrin Evans, the album boasts a gritty looseness and a daring spontaneity, with M’Balia’s soaring, potent, dauntless voice leading the way. The band features an all-star line-up of Philly stalwarts, including Evans, bassists Mike Boone and Madison Rast, drummers Gene Jackson and Byron Landham, organist Luke Carlos O’Reilly, and guitarist Tim Motzer.

Standards include her stealthy, grooving take on “Softly, As In a Morning Sunrise” and an intimate ballad rendition of “There Is No Greater Love,” which is later reprised in a brisk, uptempo version with the full band. M’Balia’s originals include the album’s title track; “You Don’t Need & I Don’t Have,” a tart commentary on financial hardship; and the stirring gospel-soul song, “Don’t Bet Against Me,” described in JazzTimes as a “towering self-actualization anthem.”

2016 saw M’Balia adding her guest vocals to two songs on Orrin Evans’ latest record, “#knowingishalfthebattle.” The album also features the work of guitar dynamos Kurt Rosenwinkel and Kevin Eubanks. Of that experience, M’Balia recounts, “It was an honor to hang out with those guys, and to come up with something really special on the David Bowie song, ‘Kooks’.”

M’Balia performs with the Sarah Slonim Project at their bimonthly residency at Smalls, NYC, and continues to lead her own band and compose.  And in March 2017, her first musical theatre collaboration, “Anansi, The Story King”, premiered at the Arthur Wagner Theatre, at the University of California, San Diego.

You can learn more about M’Balia and her music on her website: http://www.mbalia.com/

Adam O’Farrill’s Stranger Days

Poster: Adam Turkel

Adam O’Farill (b. 1994) was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Born to a deep musical legacy- his grandfather, the legendary Afro-Cuban composer/arranger, Chico O’Farrill, his father, the GRAMMY award-winning pianist/composer/activist Arturo O’Farrill, and his mother, pianist and educator Alison Deane- O’Farrill has been surrounded by music since he was very young. He began studying piano at age 6, and trumpet at age 8, while starting to compose around the same time. Since then, O’Farrill has made numerous artistic accomplishments.

With his brother, Zack, a drummer/composer, they released two well-received albums under the O’Farrill Brothers Band: Giant Peach (2011) and Sensing Flight (2013), both on ZOHO Music. They primarily featured Adam’s original compositions. In 2016, he released his first album under his own name, called Stranger Days (Sunnyside Records), which features Zack on drums, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown on tenor sax, and Walter Stinson on bass. The album has been critically acclaimed with Nate Chinen of the NY Times writing “Marshaling a sharp band of his peers — Chad Lefkowitz-Brown on tenor saxophone; Walter Stinson on bass; and Zack O’Farrill, his older brother, on drums — Mr. O’Farrill establishes both a firm identity and a willful urge to stretch and adapt.”

In 2015, O’Farrill was featured on two of the year’s most acclaimed albums. He was featured on Rudresh Mahthappa’s Bird Calls, which won the Downbeat Critics Poll for Best Jazz Album, and was named one of the Best Jazz Albums of 2015 by NPR, New York Times, Observer Chicago Tribune, and more. Later that year, O’Farrill was featured (along with Mahanthappa, and Zack O’Farrill) on Arturo O’Farrill’s Cuba: The Conversation Continues, was was nominated for the GRAMMY Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, and won the Latin GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. In 2016, Adam was featured on several new releases. He was featured on Stephan Crump’s Rhombal, along with Ellery Eskelin and Tyshawn Sorey, which also released to critical acclaim. O’Farrill was also featured on Evergreen (Canceled World), from rising composer-pianist Gabriel Zucker and his large ensemble, The Delegation, as well Kadawa, the debut album from the Israel-born experimental trio of the same name. In addition to these, Adam has also performed with Vijay Iyer, Mulatu Astatke, Steve Lehman, Christian McBride, Jason Lindner, and more.

Recently, O’Farrill completed his Bachelor’s Degree at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Laurie Frink, Cecil Bridgewater, Reiko Fueting, Thomas Smith, Greg Gisbert, and Tony Kadleck.

You can learn more about O’Farrill and his music on his website: https://www.adam-ofarrill.com/

You can learn more about Stranger Days’s self-titled release here

Africa Into Jazz/Jazz Into Africa

Poster: Yale Department of Music

The incredible Cameroonian bassist, vocalist, and composer, Richard Bona, as well as the visionary pianist and composer, Randy Weston, will be performing at the closing event of the Festival. The two artists will perform consecutive sets on the evening of Sunday the 23rd at Toad’s place. This final concert is organized by the Yale Department of Music as part of the Africa Into Jazz/Jazz Into Africa series.

Richard Bona

Photo: Music Works International

Fans call him “The African Sting,” critics call him a pro, but it’s his unique and electrifying style of connecting with his audience that titles him what he really is—a true musician. Richard Bona’s seemingly effortless voice, fierce skills on the bass, unique songwriting/arranging expertise and ability to learn just about any instrument simply from watching, position him as a rare African artist to have established an unscalable reputation on an international platform.

Originally from Cameroon, Bona remains true to his roots, with African rhythms reflected in each of his seven albums; the first three, “Scenes from My Life”, “Reverence” and “Munia” display his unique approach to storytelling through sounds. Seeking inspiration from his origins, the themes of Bona’s albums address international issues which mirror his desire of using music to take a stance on issues affecting the oppressed. As an artist with a purpose, he expanded into new musical territories and teamed up with Congolese star, Lokua Kanza and Antillais singer/composer Gerald Toto to create the 2004 collective, “Toto, Bona, Lokua” on which Bona wrote four tracks.

The trio then hit the road and toured across France; however, Bono remained in Europe to tour with guitarist Mike Stern and guest star on Japanese guitarist Kazumi Watanabe’s album “Mo Bop 2.” Shortly after, the pair embarked upon a tour of Japan, providing Bona with the opportunity to incorporate the culture and sounds of a new territory into his work. Furthermore, he toured with Pat Metheny and appeared as a guest on two of Bobby McFerrin’s albums, along with numerous notable collaborations.

He later garnered recognition at the Victoires du Jazz Awards where he won the trophy for “Best International Artist of 2004;” such a prestigious award confirmed his ability to appeal to a multitude of audiences ranging from jazz, pop, bossa nova, traditional, afro-beat and funk. In 2005, Bona guest appeared on Mario Canonge’s album “Rhyzome” and contributed to the soundtrack for Pascal Plisson’s film “Massai, les guerriers de la pluie.” Also known for his role in the group, Steps Ahead, Bona has performed on many stages such as the Adelaide International Guitar Festival and with many luminaries such as John Legend for his album, “Tiki”, which was also nominated for a Grammy in 2007 for “Best Contemporary World Music Album.”

Despite the fact that he spent the entirety of 2008 and 2009 on a non-stop tour, Bona released “The Ten Shades of Blues”, which illustrates his experience with different shades of the blues that he interacted with during his tours throughout locations such as the Sahel, Brazil, India, United States and Cameroon. Shortly after, Bona was honored by the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal with the Antonio Carlos Jobim Award; as one of seven recipients, he is distinguished as an artist in the field of world music whose influence on the evolution of jazz is widely recognized. He also received the prestigious SACEM Jazz Award (Grand Prix Jazz SACEM) in 2012 for the Jazz Grand Prize. Additionally, his certified Gold 2013 album, Bonafied, demonstrates a fusion of cultures in which he is continuously developing into a new album that will be toured internationally. With numerous awards, performances, and years of expertise, Bona has become one of the most accomplished and sought-after musicians of this generation. As he continues to redefine his sound, Richard has released his Afro-Cuban project Mandekan Cubano on June 2016 with his new album “Heritage”.

You can learn more about Bona and his music at: http://www.richard-bona.com/home/

Randy Weston

Photo: Carol Friedman

After contributing seven decades of musical direction and genius, Randy Weston remains one of the world’s foremost pianists and composers today, a true innovator and visionary.

Encompassing the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa, his global creations musically continue to inform and inspire. “Weston has the biggest sound of any jazz pianist since Ellington and Monk, as well as the richest most inventive beat,” states jazz critic Stanley Crouch, “but his art is more than projection and time; it’s the result of a studious and inspired intelligence…an intelligence that is creating a fresh synthesis of African elements with jazz technique”.

Randy Weston has been said to have “the biggest sound of any jazz pianist since Ellington and Monk, as well as the richest most inventive beat.” His long list of honors and awards include NEA Jazz Master (2001) and a spot in the “DownBeat Hall of Fame.”  

You can learn more about Randy Weston and his music here: http://www.randyweston.info/