World-famous jazz trombonist and educator Wycliffe Gordon will be in town this weekend for two special, free-of-charge Piccolo Spoleto performances at the U.S. Custom House (200 East Bay St.) — a collaboration between his quartet and members of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra called Sunset Serenade at the Custom House on Fri. May 22 at 8 p.m., and an event called All That Jazz: A Battle of the Best High School Jazz Bands in the Lowcountry at the Custom House on Sat. May 23 from 7-10 p.m.
Gordon, a native of Waynesboro, Ga., was a veteran member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and still plays with the renowned New York big band collective the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He has a ton of experience gigging and writing with top-shelf musicians, and he’s spent years conducting workshops, seminars, and lessons with young up-and-comers in the States and around the world. His intense experience with Marsalis was especially pivotal in his musical development
As part of the Piccolo Spoleto’s children's events and the Blues/Jazz Series kickoff, this set of standards and originals at the steps of the Custom House features Ehud Asherie on piano, on Herman Burney on bass, and acclaimed Charleston musician Quentin Baxter on drums — a mentor, master percussionist, and longtime educator himself. Baxter will be busy next week preparing for a concert at the Gaillard Auditorium with vocalist René Marie’s combo (see Spoleto listings).
“I thought it was important to have Quentin on board,” Gordon told City Paper last week, speaking during a brief tour of Israel. “I could have brought the drummer down from New York, but we’re right there with one of the great, masterful drummers and skilled educators in the town. Thought it’d be a shame to invite him out to just watch the group, so I invited him play with us instead.”
Look for more on Wycliffe Gordon and these festival events in this week’s City Paper Spoleto coverage.