Starring The Blue Note Quintet
featuring Gerald Clayton, Joel Ross, Immanuel Wilkins, Kendrick Scott, and Matt Brewer
The Blue Note Quintet, led by six-time Grammy Award nominee and pianist Gerald Clayton, brings together eclectic artists of today to honor the rich history and 85th anniversary of the jazz record label Blue Note Records. Joining Clayton are vibraphonist Joel Ross, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, drummer Kendrick Scott, and bassist Matt Brewer.
Six-time Grammy-nominated pianist, composer, and band leader Gerald Clayton earned recent Recording Academy recognition for Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard, his debut release on Blue Note Records. Collaborating over the years with such distinctive artists as Diana Krall, Roy Hargrove, Dianne Reeves, Terence Blanchard, John Scofield, Terri Lyne Carrington, Peter Bernstein, Ambrose Akinmusire, Gretchen Parlato, Ben Wendel, the Clayton Brothers Quintet, and legendary band leader Charles Lloyd, Clayton currently serves as Director of Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, following service as Musical Director for Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour.
Under the instruction of Billy Childs, Clayton earned a Bachelor of Arts in piano performance at USC’s Thornton School of Music following a year of intensive study with Kenny Barron at The Manhattan School of Music. Clayton’s creative spirit honors the legacy of his father, bassist composer John Clayton. In 2016, he received a Duke University commission to render the Piedmont Blues experience in early 20th-century Durham; Piedmont Blues features a mixed media performance of critical acclaim. In 2019, he received a commission from LACMA to compose a musical pendant for artist Charles White’s “5 Great American Negroes” mural; Clayton titled the project White Cities: A Musical Tribute to Charles White. In January 2020, he began work on the critically acclaimed score for Sam Pollard’s award-winning documentary MLK/FBI. The emotional resonance of Clayton’s score imbues the film with subtle, lingering moments of struggle and humanity, and helps capture a complex arc of an enduring subject.
Joel Ross continues refining an expression that’s true to his sound and his generation. In 2019, the vibraphonist-composer issued his anticipated Blue Note debut, Edison Award-winning record KingMaker, to eruptive critical acclaim, followed by his 2020 release Who Are You?, which features his band Good Vibes at their most synchronous. The New York Times critic Giovanni Russonello praised the album for the ways it “speaks to a new level of group cohesion ... more tangle, more sharing, more possibility.”
The Parable of the Poet, Ross’s third release for Blue Note Records, explores feelings of self-awareness—confidence, doubt, regret and forgiveness—through storytellings and retellings. Using collaborative improvising, collective melody, and instrumental features, the intuitive band leader spotlights unique attributes of fellow artists Immanuel Wilkins, Maria Grand, Marquis Hill, Kalia Vandever, Sean Mason, Rick Rosato, Craig Weinrib, and returning special guest Gabrielle Garo.
The music of saxophonist and composer Immanuel Wilkins is filled with empathy and conviction, bonding arcs of melody and lamentation to pluming gestures of space and breath. Listeners were introduced to this riveting sound with his acclaimed debut album Omega, which was named the #1 Jazz Album of 2020 by The New York Times. The album also introduced his remarkable quartet with Micah Thomas on piano, Daryl Johns on bass, and Kweku Sumbry on drums, a tight-knit unit that Wilkins features once again on his stunning sophomore album The 7th Hand. The 7th Hand explores relationships between presence and nothingness across an hour-long suite comprised of seven movements. “I wanted to write a preparatory piece for my quartet to become vessels by the end of the piece, fully,” says the Brooklyn-based, Philadelphia-raised artist who Pitchfork said “composes ocean-deep jazz epics.”
Kendrick Scott was born in Houston, TX and grew up in a family of musicians. By age 8 he had taken up the drums and he later attended Houston’s renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, a school which has produced an impressive array of musical talent, including Scott’s label mates Jason Moran and Robert Glasper, as well pop star Beyoncé, and many others. While still attending HSPVA, Scott won several DownBeat Magazine student awards, as well as the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Award from the International Association of Jazz Educators. He was later awarded a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music, where he majored in music education.
Scott has toured with Herbie Hancock, Charles Lloyd, The Crusaders, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kurt Elling, and Terence Blanchard, also appearing on several of the trumpeter’s Blue Note albums including Flow (2005), A Tale of God’s Will (2007), and Magnetic (2013). Scott’s first two releases on Blue Note as a leader presented his band Kendrick Scott Oracle: We Are The Drum (2015) and A Wall Becomes A Bridge (2019). Scott was also a member of the Blue Note All-Stars, a supergroup formed for the label’s 75th anniversary featuring Ambrose Akinmusire, Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge, Lionel Loueke, and Marcus Strickland, who released the album Our Point of View in 2017. Scott’s 2023 Blue Note album Corridors finds him paring down to a trio with saxophonist Walter Smith III and bassist Reuben Rogers.
Matt Brewer was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, surrounded by a family of musicians and artists. At the age of 10, Brewer fell in love with the bass and began a lifelong study of music. He graduated high school from the Interlochen Arts Academy, and then went on to study at the Juilliard School. He's travelled the world playing in the bands of Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Greg Osby, Steve Coleman, Dave Binney, Gerald Clayton, Ben Wendel, Aaron Parks, Vijay Iyer, Dhafer Youssef, Antonio Sanchez, Mark Turner, Steve Lehman, Ben Monder, and Lage Lund, among many others. He has been a frequent guest lecturer at the Banff Center, and is an adjunct faculty member at the New School University.