SUN • JUNE 3 • 6:30PMBuy Tickets
Tickets: $119, $89, $79, $69, $40 | Limit 8 tickets per billing address
The historic Count Basie Center for the Arts, the state’s top-selling performing arts theater and the namesake of jazz great William J. “Count” Basie, is back with its second-ever Basie Summer Jazz Fest!
- Moonchild 6:30 – 7:20pm
- Esperanza Spalding 7:45pm – 9:00pm
- Snarky Puppy 9:30pm – 11:30pm
** Tickets for the Basie Summer Jazz fest are sold by the day and not the festival as a whole.
Presented by Citi, the Monmouth County Freeholders and The Asbury Park Press
About The Artists
The last four years have brought dramatic changes for Snarky Puppy.
After a decade of relentless touring and recording in all but complete obscurity, the Texas-bred/New York-based quasi-collective suddenly found itself held up by the press and public as one of the major figures in the jazz world. But as the category names for all three of the band’s Grammy® awards would indicate (Best R&B Performance in 2014, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in 2016 and 2017), Snarky Puppy isn’t exactly a jazz band. It’s not a fusion band, and it’s definitely not a jam band. It’s probably best to take Nate Chinen of the New York Times’ advice, as stated in an online discussion about the group, to “take them for what they are, rather than judge them for what they’re not.”
Snarky Puppy is a collective of sorts with as many as 25 members in regular rotation. They each maintain busy schedules as sidemen (with such artists as Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and D’Angelo), producers (for Kirk Franklin, David Crosby, and Salif Keïta), and solo artists (many of whom are on the band’s indy label, GroundUP Music). At its core, the band represents the convergence of both black and white American music culture with various accents from around the world. Japan, Argentina, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico all have representation in the group’s membership. But more than the cultural diversity of the individual players, the defining characteristic of Snarky Puppy’s music is the joy of performing together in the perpetual push to grow creatively.
The band was formed by bassist and primary composer Michael League in 2003, starting inconspicuously enough as a group of college friends at the University of North Texas’ Jazz Studies program. Three years later, a serendipitous intersection with the Dallas gospel and R&B community in Dallas transformed the music into something funkier, more direct, and more visceral. It was at this time that the group absorbed musicians like Robert “Sput” Searight (drums), Shaun Martin (keyboards), and Bobby Sparks (keyboards), and were heavily influenced by legendary keyboardist Bernard Wright (Miles Davis, Chaka Khan, Marcus Miller).
A four-time Grammy® award-winner, activist, and educator, Esperanza Spalding has, in the past decade of artistic journey, continually married genres, pushed boundaries and created groundbreaking work. Spalding is, as a musician, composer, vocalist and lyricist, expansive, iterative and shape-shifting, open and progressively innovative.
A voracious live performer, she is attentive in her studies towards what the process of playing live – whether sharing the stage with Herbie Hancock, Prince, or the LA Philharmonic – presents to the structure of a song. That channeled energy runs through her catalogue of dozens of collaborative and six solo albums.
On Spalding’s most recent project, Exposure, she set out to create an album from start to finish in 77 hours, while streaming the whole creative process live on Facebook. This demanding feat of musicianship was an artistic marathon that yielded not just a 10-song album, but a community of sleepless fans who watched every second.
Her groundbreaking livestream garnered 1.4million views, over 4 million minutes of views and nearly 400,000 reactions, comments and shares along the way. Before Exposure ended, all 7,777 copies of the album (priced at $50) had sold out.
Exposure was a logical next step for this visionary artist. In March 2016, she released Emily’s D+Evolution, a daring tapestry of music, vibrant imagery, performance art and stage design. The album was an electrifying take on the power trio, adorned with rich vocal arrangements and touches of synthesizer.
Following an inspirational episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” that featured Yo-Yo Ma, Spalding pursued study of her first instrument, the violin, at a time when most children her age were just learning to read. At age five she was playing with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon in her hometown of Portland. By the time she exited the program at 15 as a concertmaster, she was composing and playing acoustic bass professionally with local bands.
The latter became the instrument most central to her work: she joined her first band as a bassist and vocalist, Noise for Pretend, the same year she left Chamber Music Society of Oregon. Following the groups run, Spalding became one of the youngest bassists in the classical performance program at Portland State University. Spalding moved on to Berklee College of Music, and upon graduation at 20 became the prestigious school’s youngest-ever instructor.
Spalding was the laureate-invited performer at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and subsequent concert, when President Barack Obama won the Peace Prize in 2009. In addition to her Grammys®, she has been the recipient of such other prestigious awards as the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Artist, the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for the Performing Arts, the Frida Kahlo Award for Innovative Creativity, and the ASCAP Foundation Jazz Vanguard Award.
In July 2017, Spalding was appointed Professor of the Practice of Music at Harvard University, where she will teach a range of courses in songwriting, arranging, improvisation and performance, while also bringing her commitment to music as a voice for social justice.
Moonchild’s candid style of soul and new-school jazz has propelled them onto a swirling, emotionally charged journey of the heart. Since 2014, the Los Angeles trio have dedicated their time and energy into honing dreamlike and ethereal compositions which explore the intricacies of relationships with emotional nuance. The band cites influences like D’Angelo, Hiatus Kaiyote and J. Most as playing a key part in expanding the group’s musical horizons.
Following two years after their widely-praised album Please Rewind, their latest album, Voyager, marks a new level of maturity in the band’s sound. Building on their trademark sound, the band brought in a harpist and string players to their usual line-up, enriching standout motifs; these range from the importance of making time for loved ones, to the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night and missing someone, to the deep bonds shared between mother and child.
Since cementing themselves into the vibrant LA soul scene, Moonchild have released two albums and collaborated or toured with highly-respected names in the soul-jazz crowd including Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, India.Arie, Leela James, The Internet (Odd Future’s Syd tha Kyd & Matt Martians) and more. Along the way, Moonchild have accumulated a host of iconic supporters from Robert Glasper and Laura Mvula to James Poyser, Jazzy Jeff, Jose James, 9th Wonder and Tyler, The Creator who have all shown love for the band.