Produced and presented by the Jazz Artists of Charleston, the musically diverse Upstairs at McCrady's jazz series is set to happen during this year's Piccolo Spoleto. With a new partnership with McCrady's Restaurant, the 11-night run (plus additional events) looks like a festival highlight.
Organizer Leah Suárez, president of JAC, headed up a similar series last year called Upstairs at Mistral (at the Market Street venue). Each night offers two shows, one at 7 p.m. and the other at 10 p.m.
This year's event kicks off on Thurs. May 27 with an opening set from the versatile Pulse Trio during a semi-private reception for friends and colleagues. The Upstairs at McCrady's schedule features Station NY (featuring guitarist Lee Barbour and guests), Leah Suárez & Friends, Kopaja (with guitarist David Linaburg), the Tommy Gill Trio, Morimoto +1 (the extra is guest bassist Ben Wells), TriOdelay (led by guitarist Tyler Ross), Tumbao (led by composer and musician Fernando Rivas), the Charlton Singleton Sextet, the Duda Lucena Quartet, Tenor Madness, and the Cobblestone Quartet (featuring sax player George Kenny).
The annual Holy City Homecomin' concert set for Tues. June 1 also takes place at McCrady's. Sax player Mark Sterbank — an assistant professor of jazz studies and saxophone instructor at Charleston Southern University and a member of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, the Quentin Baxter Ensemble, the Tommy Gill Ensemble, the Charlton Singleton Quintet — presents a full ensemble and a special program of rearranged spirituals and hymns at 7 p.m. and at 10 p.m. The lineup features Fred Wesley on trombone, Singleton on trumpet, Gill on piano, Herman Burney, Jr. on bass, and Quentin Baxter on drums.
A one-set-only Charleston All-Stars show featuring acclaimed drummer and Charleston native Ron Free is set for Fri. June 11. Free was a player in the legendary scene at the Loft in Manhattan in the late '50s and '60s, as documented in The Jazz Loft Project, a recently-opened multimedia exhibition of vintage black and white prints and rarely heard audio recordings by photographer W. Eugene Smith at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. The All-stars at this gig will include many of Charleston current top jazz musicians. Tickets for this event are $40.
Advance tickets for the other Upstairs at McCrady's events are available for $20/set. Call the JAC box office at (843) 641-0011 for info.