Azar Lawrence to headline Clarion Jazz at Memorial Hall

Azar Lawrence. Photo provided.

Summer concert series are starting to be announced. The freshly-renovated Memorial Hall is a great place to hear jazz:

Award winning saxophonist Azar Lawrence will kick off Clarion Jazz’s second annual Open Door Series on Saturday, May 26, at Memorial Hall, OTR.

Lawrence will revisit the program that he recorded live at Cincinnati’s Hyatt Regency Jazz Series: “Azar Lawrence’s Legacy and Music of John Coltrane.” The evening will include Coltrane classics such as “Body and Soul,” “Impressions,” “My Favorite Things” and “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise.”

The opening night show will be hosted by WLWT-TV’s Alexis Rogers.

Lawrence has performed and recorded with Coltrane pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones. The saxophonist also appears with Miles Davis on his classic “Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall.” Other high notes include his collaboration with Earth Wind and Fire on their Grammy-nominated album “Power Light,” as well as with Marvin Gaye on his Grammy-winning “Here My Dear.”

The rest of the lineup:

Trumpeter Johnny Britt, in Marvin Gaye’s jacket. Photo provided.

June 23: Trumpeter Johnny Britt returns with “Marvin meets Miles.” The show by this smooth trumpeter will include Marvin Gaye and Miles Davis classics such as “All Blues,” “Inner City Blues,” “Got To Give It Up,” “Round Midnight,”  “Tutu” and “What’s Going On.”

July 21: Melissa Morgan’s “Guess Who I Saw Today: A Tribute to Nancy Wilson.” Hear classics and romantic standards such as “My Gentlemen Friend,” “Never Will I Marry,” “Old Country,” “Sleepin’ Bee,” “The Masquerade Is Over” and “Guess Who I Saw Today.”

Aug. 18: Lynne Fiddmont’s: A Tribute to Billie Holiday. The evening will include romantic standards and hits such as “Lover Man,” “Night and Day,” “Summertime,” “Strange Fruit” and more.

Melissa Morgan. Photo provided

Shows are at 8 p.m. at Memorial Hall. Tickets at the Memorial Hall Box Office. Click here for more information.

One of the goals of Clarion Jazz president Leonard Herring, Jr., a former Cincinnatian, is to benefit local charities. The Johnny Britt show will benefit the Norman E. Johns Chair of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. Established in 1995, it awards scholarships to African-American, Latino, Hispanic and Native American youth.

Melissa Morgan’s show will benefit Multiple Sclerosis Society Team Braddock, created by Lauren Braddock. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2014, she has raised over $25,000 for Multiple Sclerosis Society Team Walk.

Lynne Fiddmont’s Tribute to Billie Holiday will benefit The Cincinnati Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, a group of service organizations for Black Women. In 1925, the organization purchased The Federation House in Walnut Hills, where they could meet without fear of racial bias.

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