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Press Releases

World-Renowned Smoke Jazz Club Kickstarts the New Year Celebrating Two Jazz Giants’ Birthdays: Billy Harper and Al Foster

December 4, 2023 | By April Thibeault | AMT PR | april@amtpublicrelations.com

Bill Charlap Trio (Jan 3-7)
Billy Childs Quartet (Jan 11-14)
81st Birthday Celebration: Billy Harper Quintet (Jan 18-21)
81st Birthday Celebration: Al Foster Quintet featuring Chris Potter & Nicholas Payton (Jan 24-28)
NEW YORK, NY (For Release 12.04.23) — Rated the #1 jazz club in New York City (Secret NYC), SMOKE Jazz Club begins 2024 with an exciting line-up in January. The month begins with two piano greats: Bill Charlap leading his longtime Trio (Jan 3-7) followed by renowned pianist/composer Billy Childs and his Quartet (Jan 11-14). SMOKE is honored to host two octogenarians celebrating their 81st birthdays in back-to-back concert celebrations: tenor saxophone giant Billy Harper leads his Quintet (Jan 18-21) then drumming master Al Foster is at the helm of his Quintet with special guests Chris Potter and Nicholas Payton (Jan 24-28). For the most updated schedule, please visit SMOKEjazz.com
January 2024 Concert Schedule (subject to change):
Thu-Sun Jan 3-7 Bill Charlap Trio
Bill Charlap – piano
Peter Washington – bass
Kenny Washington – drums
“The premiere mainstream piano trio of our day.” – The New Yorker
Bill Charlap leads his acclaimed piano trio featuring bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington. Known as a master interpreter of American popular song Time magazine says, “No matter how imaginative or surprising his take on a song is, he invariably zeroes in on its essence.” Charlap has performed with many leading artists of our time, from Phil Woods and Tony Bennett to Gerry Mulligan and Wynton Marsalis, and has led this trio since 1997. The Guardian explains, “As a unit, this must be one of the best piano trios ever, and certainly as instantly recognisable as any of its great predecessors. Charlap’s touch on the keyboard is light, almost stealthy, even when playing full chords, but always firm, clear, and beautifully articulated. With the spirited support of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington (famously unrelated), the total effect is just perfect.”

Thu-Sun Jan 11-14 Billy Childs Quartet
Steve Wilson – saxophones & flute
Billy Childs – piano
Matt Penman – bass
Ari Hoenig – drums
“One of the most critically acclaimed pianists in modern jazz” – All About Jazz
Renowned pianist and composer Billy Childs leads a sensational quartet with saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Ari Hoenig. A native of Los Angeles, Childs grew up immersed in jazz, classical, and popular music influences, which he blends in powerful and personal compositional and performing voice. A child prodigy who started performing at age six and studying at USC at 16, he was “discovered” by trumpet legend Freddie Hubbard, with whom he embarked on a successful performing and recording tour. He also recorded and performed with a number of other influential jazz musicians, including J.J. Johnson, Joe Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, Jack DeJohnette, and Dave Holland, among many others, and with such varied artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Sting, Renee Fleming, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Kronos Quartet. Downbeat reports, “The same creative spirit that’s propelled him from the bands of bop giants as a twenty-something side-player to a composer renowned throughout concert halls and across jazz festival stages remains unhampered.”
Thu-Sun Jan 18-21 81st Birthday Celebration: Billy Harper Quintet
Freddie Hendrix – trumpet
Billy Harper – tenor saxophone
Francesca Tanksley – piano
Dezron Douglas – bass
Aaron Scott – drums

The incredible Billy Harper leads his celebrated quintet--with trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, pianist Francesca Tanksley, bassist Dezron Douglas, and drummer Aaron Scott--while celebrating his 81st birthday. One of the most original and significant saxophonists of the past 50 years, Harper has a distinctive sound and approach that is purely his own. Over the years, he’s worked with Art Blakey, Max Roach, Gil Evans, Elvin Jones, Lee Morgan, and, most recently, the Cookers. The San Francisco Chronicle says, “he is a soul of sensitivity and intelligence, as well as of explosive, majestic passion.” “His viscous, chocolaty tone and depth-charge bursts from the bottom of his range [are] a stark contrast to the current trend for a post-bop homogeneity of tone in the newer generation of saxophone sounds,” reports JazzWise.

Wed-Sun Jan 24-28 81st Birthday Celebration: Al Foster Quintet featuring Chris Potter and Nicholas Payton
Nicholas Payton – trumpet
Chris Potter – tenor saxophone
Kevin Hays – piano 
Vicente Archer – bass
Al Foster – drums
“One of the great living drummers in jazz.” – Stereophile
The incredible drummer Al Foster celebrates his 81st birthday with a perfect ensemble for the occasion featuring tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, pianist Kevin Hays, and bassist Vicente Archer. This same illustrious quintet appears with Foster on his acclaimed 2022 album, Reflections. Well-known for his long association with Miles Davis throughout the ’70s and ’80s, Foster was also the first-call drummer for an amazing list of jazz legends such as Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz, McCoy Tyner, and Joe Henderson. Downbeat calls him “an esteemed master and a consummate sideman,” while JazzTimes describes him as “a not-so-secret special groove ingredient enlivening performances and sessions by a long list of heavy hitters.”
Located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side at the junction of Broadway and 106th Street (aka Duke Ellington Boulevard), Smoke Jazz Club is one of New York City’s premier live music venues. Renowned for offering top-notch programming of accessible, timeless jazz featuring legendary performers, modern masters and rising stars, Smoke stands apart with its candlelit dining room, stellar acoustics, and classic American cuisine. Founded in 1999, SMOKE also boasts a GRAMMY-nominated label, Smoke Sessions Records, and a celebrated streaming concert series, Smoke Screens. For everything else, visit SMOKEjazz.com. 

Ticketing Information:
When: Wednesday-Sunday @ 7:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m. and additional 10:30 p.m. (Fri & Sat only). Doors open at 5:00 p.m. (unless otherwise noted)
Where: SMOKE Jazz Club, 2751 Broadway (between 105/106th Streets), New York, NY, Train: 1 to 103rdStreet.
Tickets: In-Person $25-$60. Livestream $15. For more information and to make reservations, please visit SMOKEjazz.com.
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