all photos credit to Monica Frisell
Jazz guitarist, composer and recording artist Bill Frisell’s more-than-40-year career is rightly celebrated for its depth and range. One of the most distinctive and original improvising guitarists of our time, Bill continues to innovate, weaving the American blues tradition into original soundtracks and scores that range from a Broadway revival of George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan” to Bill Morrison’s acclaimed documentary “The Great Flood.”
Born in Baltimore, Bill played clarinet throughout his childhood in Denver, Colorado. His interest in guitar began with exposure to pop music on the radio; soon, the Chicago blues became a passion. In high school, he played in bands covering pop and soul classics. Later, Bill studied music at the University of Northern Colorado before attending Berklee College of Music in Boston.
All of this contributed to the uncategorizable nature of Frisell's music and the seamlessness with which his bands have navigated such a variety of styles. His long list of collaborators includes Elvis Costello, Ginger Baker, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, film director Gus Van Sant and more. In recent years, it is Frisell's role as composer and band leader that has garnered him increasing notoriety.
"Bill Frisell is the Clark Kent of the electric guitar,” writes Spin magazine. “Soft-spoken and self-effacing in conversation, he apparently breathes in lungfuls of raw fire when he straps on his (guitar) … His music is not what is typically called jazz, though it turns on improvisation; it's not rock 'n’ roll; and it sure ain't that tired dinosaur called fusion.”
After nearly three decades of being based in Seattle, the tireless Frisell has relocated in recent years to Brooklyn, N.Y. He will be bringing his acclaimed trio to Camden, joining forces with Thomas Morgan on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. Jazz in June attendees can expect an extraordinary night of music!
East Coast born and bred musical prodigy, singer-saxophonist-songwriter-composer and band leader Grace Kelly recorded her first album at age 12. Her early career featured performances at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration at age 16; and, at 14, as a soloist with the Boston Pops playing an original composition arranged for the legendary orchestra. She since has rocked the jazz world with sold-out concerts, 14 acclaimed albums and a resumé that includes performing at the Hollywood Bowl and as part of Jon Batiste’s Stay Human, house band for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” – all before reaching her mid-20s.
Featured by Vanity Fair as a millennial shaking up the jazz world, Grace’s state-of-the-artbrand of electro jazz-pop and inventive digital content are pushing her to the forefront of the fusion scene. She is a seven-time winner of the Downbeat Critics Poll, five-time winner of ASCAP Composers Award, and has headlined more than 900 shows in more than 35 countries including all major festivals from Montreux and Newport to Montreal.
Grace was named the winner of “Song of the Year” for her single “Feels Like Home” in the 2018 John Lennon Songwriting Contest and has been named nine times consecutively in the annual Downbeat Magazines Critics Poll (the youngest ever in 2009 and winning in 2017). She has won multiple ASCAP Composer Awards, Boston Music Awards and international songwriting awards. She’s also appeared as a featured performer in films and television, including acclaimed documentary “Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story”; Amazon’s Emmy-nominated original series “Bosch”; and the 2017 Emmy-winning Yamaha production “The Right Note.”
Her latest album is “All That I Need” was inspired by coming out of the pandemic. Her next project, inspired by “Charlie Parker with Strings,” will be “At The Movies: Grace Kelly with Strings.” She is reimagining music from favorite classic and current movies with fresh arrangements. In addition to composing, performing and recording, Grace is a masterful clinician specializing in jazz improvisation and stage performance who has taught thousands of students both online and in-person. Grace, Yamaha and Boston Sax Shop artist, is the youngest member of the Board of Trustees of Berklee College of Music and has held a guest teaching residency at the famed school.
Staci Griesbach is a Los Angeles-based vocalist reimagining the Great American Songbook of Country Music in the style of jazz. Griesbach’s Songbook series features the music of Patsy Cline, Shania Twain, Dolly Parton and George Jones. Rolling Stone lauded Staci’s first single “Walkin’ After Midnight” off her 2019 debut album “My Patsy Cline Songbook” as “a gorgeous jazz interpretation.” DownBeat Magazine gave her most recent full-length album, “My George Jones Songbook,” a four-star review.
Staci’s interpretations demonstrate the strength and versatility of country classics, as her arrangements add layers and depth to the pure and honest “three chords and the truth.” Her Songbook project is inspired by the work of the great producer Norman Granz, who steered Ella Fitzgerald in her series of releases honoring the songwriters of the Great American Songbook.
While growing up on a working farm raising dairy replacement heifers in rural Wisconsin, Staci studied piano, alto saxophone and voice and started swinging into jazz through performing groups in her formative years, including playing alto sax in the high school jazz band. She developed a love for musical theater as well, taking on lead roles in her school’s musical theater program and performing as a singer/dancer in the Wisconsin Singers, a Broadway revue-style show, for several years while enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Staci started homing in on jazz studies with the Santa Monica College Vocal Jazz Ensemble and private studies with some of the jazz community’s finest teachers. In 2015, she started gigging locally in Los Angeles with a trio, quickly realizing she wanted to create a unique project where she could connect with audiences in an authentic way. She went back to her roots in classic country music and started working on arrangements with Michele Weir, going on to study with Brazilian artist and arranger Celia Vaz in Rio De Janeiro. The following year, her "Staci Sings Ella" YouTube series had her singing 100 songs in 100 days to commemorate the Ella Fitzgerald's centennial. The three-month venture resulted in a benefit concert for the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation.
Staci has performed at venues including Carnegie Hall, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Birdland, Catalina Jazz Club, Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, Rudy’s Jazz Club, the Nashville Jazz Workshop and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has a Music Performance Certificate from Berklee School of Music Online.
THE MYLES KELLEY TRIO
The Myles Kelley Trio consists of Nathan Williams (Tenor Sax), Myles Kelley (Piano) and Robben Harris (Double Bass). The group got to know each other playing in ensembles at the University of Maine in 2020, and quickly started gigging together across the state. Recently, Robben has established himself as a prominent figure in the Portland Jazz scene, leading bands at "Port City Blue" and "Urban Farm Fermentory" on a weekly basis. This spring, Nathan is finishing up his student teaching as a music educator in the Bangor area, and remains a member of the 195th Maine Army National Guard Band along with Robben. Myles Kelley is a newly graduated pianist/composer from Appleton, Maine. His biggest influences in improvised music are modal icons like John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock, and his songs often encourage intensity and dissonance. Recently, Myles performed a series of small ensemble charts set to film photography in an audio/visual experience titled “Bike Ride”. He has worked in a number of genres across the state of Maine, and is a member of the southern Maine bands “Midnight Breakfast” and “The Carrier Pigeons”. Myles is moving to Portland this fall to pursue music performance full time. The Myles Kelley Trio is excited to visit Camden this June, bringing with them a mix of standard arrangements and original composition set to kick off the summer on a high note!
MIDCOAST MUSIC ACADEMY
JAZZ FACULTY ENSEMBLE
Midcoast Music Academy's faculty jazz ensemble is composed of Amory Raymond (guitar), Chris Pert (flugelhorn & trumpet), Tom Luther (piano) and Tom Ulichny (drums & percussion). These powerhouse performers share decades of jazz study and performance throughout New England. Their avant-garde approach to original repertoire and passion for the music of jazz greats produces an exciting sound that excites jazz aficionados and novices alike. As teaching artists, they are conscientiously molding the next generation of musicians here in the Midcoast.
THE UMAINE JAZZ ENSEMBLE
The UMaine Jazz Ensemble began in the 1970's as the Twentieth Century Music Ensemble under the direction of Don Stratton. Later directed by Karel Lidral, Jack Burt and Dan Barrett, the band has performed throughout Maine and New England, from Boston to Eastport and supported guest artists such as Al Cohn, Brad Terry, Don Diane, Bob Keller, David Wells, Thomas Gnash, Trent Austin, Nadjie Noordhuis, Aubrey Logan, and others. Made up of students from various departments at the university, the band's repertoire often features new compositions and arrangements by its members in addition to classic big band music dating back to the swing era.
The Jazz Studies program at the University of Maine features a major and minor in jazz studies, two big bands, several jazz combos, and nine jazz faculty who direct the ensembles, teach academic courses and applied lessons, and perform with UMaine's faculty jazz ensemble.
Stay tuned for more artists to be announced.