There is another side to The Smith Center. An intimate and stylish venue where you can grab a bite, lift a glass and enjoy a true cabaret-style experience. This is Cabaret Jazz, an elegant yet easygoing club where you can be entertained by the finest musicians from across the country. Located across from Reynolds Hall inside the Boman Pavilion, it’s the kind of place where live music can truly come alive.
With a decades-spanning career and an unmatched list of accolades including Kennedy Center Honors and Tony, Grammy, and Drama Desk awards, Broadway icon Barbara Cook is beloved for her legendary performances in the premiere production of The Music Man and lauded revivals of Oklahoma! and Carousel. The first female pop singer ever to perform a solo concert at the Metropolitan Opera, the silvery soprano performs at The Smith Center to show why she is still “the greatest singer in the world” (Financial Times).
“Hawaii’s hottest group!” -Billboard Magazine
“HAPA is the most successful Hawaiian music group in recent history” -New York Times
“HAPA’s music is majestic, stunning, reflecting a link to the past while soaring mightily into the future” –Honolulu Advertiser
Often encapsulated as the “Sound of Maui” or the “Soundtrack of Hawaii” the music and sound of the group HAPA evokes a place that many people have referred to as heavenly. The sound? Expect to hear hypnotic, liquid guitar runs woven around clear, tenor Hawaiian vocals and immaculate harmonies driven by poetic lyrics exulting the rapture of the Hawaiian landscape, History and Mythology. Just add to this a dose of American Folk-Rock, you have what has been described, as “the most exciting and beautiful contemporary Hawaiian music the world knows” (Maui Times). The overriding quality of their music is one of passion, beauty and serenity, found in the majestic tones of the oli (chant), mele (song) and the exhilarating innovative sounds of virtuoso Guitar performances. “Masterful” is how Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Stephen Stills describes the groups Guitar skills.
The group’s recordings have infused fearless and brilliant production while weaving unique, inventive elements of sound and textures into their intricate South Pacific tapestry. Over the years this has included adding such diverse instruments on their recordings as the Irish Uillian Pipe, Hawaiian Pahu Drum and the Electric Sitar. Guest appearances have included friend and Folk Rock icon Kenny Loggins singing in the Hawaiian Language; Internationally recognized Slam-Poet and Storyteller Kealoha; to the final recorded vocal performance by the “King Of Hawaiian Entertainment” Don Ho. “Complex, sophisticated and flawlessly conceived and engineered, HAPA concerts and recordings are as elaborate and visceral as today’s Hawaii” (Kauai Times) These disparate ingredients blended together musically in the Pacific emote the unique flavor of what Hawaii and HAPA music is: “Beautiful, fragile, spiritual, powerful” (Los Angeles Times).
Their music has appeared in countless National TV shows and feature films, and the group was showcased in a PBS Documentary hosted by Peter Fonda, who describes Hapa as “The music of my Bali Hai”. National Geographic kicked off their “Geo Sessions” music series with profiles on the group and Ben Harper. HAPA was the first Hawaii Musical act to be given to honor of being introduced and performed as themselves on the smash Television series, “Hawaii 5-0″, performing their song “Olinda Road” which closed the first season’s finale. An estimated 25 million viewers watched the show and its re-broadcast. “Since my initial move to Hawaii to appear on “Lost”, the HAPA song “Olinda Road” will always remain the Soundtrack for my Hawaii-life” (Daniel Dae Kim).
HAPA’s self-entitled debut Cd released in 1993 became the biggest selling Cd by a group or duo in the history of recorded Hawaiian music. The group’s debut Cd changed the tide and thus terminology of music from Hawaii, since it was the first Cd to establish itself outside of the musical category “Hawaiian Music” and be referred to as “World Music” by Billboard Magazine in 1993. All follow up Cd release have debuted in the Top Ten of the Billboard Magazine World Music Chart. The group’s ground breaking music has established them as the most recognized name in Hawaiian Music internationally since their debut release, continuing their 20 year touring tradition of selling out intimate Supper Clubs, Showcase Rooms, Festivals and Performing Art Centers from Tokyo to Sydney to New York.
The blend of their original vocal sound was originated on a wooden picnic bench in the beautiful little beach town of Lahaina on the island of Maui in the early 1980’s. It has travelled far in 30 years, as Rolling Stone Japan recently described them as “Titans of the Genre”. Don Ho predicted in 1993: “What HAPA means and what their message is will touch and inspire millions”.
Named Las Vegas Headliner of the Year two times running, Frankie Moreno has been wowing audiences from coast to coast with his mix of rat pack glamour, original and classic hits and vintage funk-infused sounds. A piano prodigy and multi-instrumentalist, Moreno has performed with many greats, including award-winning classical violinist Joshua Bell. Now, Moreno takes his sound intimate with his special weekly residency at Cabaret Jazz, “Under the Influence,” where he explores the music that inspires him.
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Composer, pianist and jazz legend Ramsey Lewis has been referred to as “the great performer,” a title reflecting his performance style and musical selections which display his early gospel playing and classical training along with his love of jazz and other musical forms. A native Chicagoan (born May 27, 1935), Mr. Lewis represents the great diversity of music for which Chicago is noted.
Ramsey Lewis first captivated fans with his first album “Ramsey Lewis And The Gentlemen of Swing” by the Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1956. By 1965, he was one of the nation’s most successful jazz pianists, topping the charts with “The In Crowd,” “Hang On Sloopy” and “Wade In The Water.” He has three Grammy Awards and seven gold records to his credit. Often called legendary, Mr. Lewis concedes “It’s a high honor when someone says so, but I don’t see myself that way. What keeps me enthusiastic and energizes me, is the realization that the more I learn, the more I find there is to know.” He received the industry award for the 2006 Stellar Award for Best Gospel Instrumental Album, “With One Voice” presented in January 2007. He was also the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in January 2007. Mr. Lewis has received four (4) honorary doctorate degrees and numerous other accolades.
Ramsey Lewis began taking piano lessons at the age of four, studying the basics and fundamentals. But, “It wasn’t until I started studying with the late Dorothy Mendelsohn that I responded to some of the startling things she was teaching me, such as ‘Listen with your inner ear,’ and ‘Make the piano sing.’ These concepts were revelations!” Soon after, he began learning Bach, Beethoven, Hadyn, Brahms and Chopin, and other basic piano repertoire for the concert pianist.
Except for records his father played around the house, Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Mead Lux Lewis and others, Mr. Lewis had no experience playing jazz. He was 15 when a fellow church musician, Wallace Burton, asked him to join his jazz band and took the time to coach and help the young musician learn the language of jazz. It was a brand new experience for him. The seven-piece group called themselves “The Cleffs” and provided Mr. Lewis’ first real involvement with the great music of jazz. The emerging Ramsey Lewis Trio had its roots as the rhythm section (comprised of Mr. Lewis on piano, Eldee Young on bass and Redd Holt on drums) and remained after the other members of the Cleffs went off to the Korean war. “Jazz soon became a major force in my musical life, but European classical and gospel music were of almost equal importance,” he recalls.
In addition to recording albums and performing live, Mr. Lewis hosted WNUA-FM Chicago’s weekday morning drive-time radio show, “The Ramsey Lewis Morning Show,” from 1997-2009 for which he was awarded R&R’s (Radio&Records) 1999 and 2000 Personality of the Year Award. The syndicated “Ramsey Lewis Morning Show” ran from 2007-2009 nationwide. His syndicated “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis,” radio program continues to air in a number of cities throughout the U.S.
Active in community efforts, especially on behalf of youth, he helped organize the Ravinia Festival’s Jazz Mentor Program and also serves as the Artistic Director for that festival’s jazz series. In January of 2007, the Dave Brubeck Institute invited Mr. Lewis to be on the Honorary Board of Friends of the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Merit School of Music, an inner city music program in downtown Chicago as well as on the Board of Trustees of the first public high school for the performing arts in Chicago, The Chicago High School for the Arts, and is a member of Loyola University (Chicago) Council of Regents. Early 2005 saw the formation of the Ramsey Lewis Foundation, a program designed to help provide scholarship opportunities to youth as they move through high school and on to college. Unfortunately, due to a health related issue in 2008, Mr. Lewis had to suspend this program.
In 2003, Mr. Lewis along with Larry Rosen (founder and former president of GRP Records) and Lee Rosenberg formed LRSmedia, an independent music entertainment company that created and produced branded entertainment properties for distribution across broadcast, live and recorded media. LRSmedia co-produced, along with PBS television station WTTW-Chicago in April 2006, a series of 13 one-half hour television programs called “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis” making it the first time in forty years that jazz had enjoyed television coverage. The program not only featured the legends of this great music, but also the young and upcoming stars as well. Mr. Lewis, along with Mr. Rosen and Mr. Rosenberg were co-executive producers of the series.
Beginning in 2005, Mr. Lewis began seriously composing large-scale musical works. The first was an eight-movement work for jazz trio and ballet in collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet and choreographed by Donald Byrd. The world premiere of “To Know Her . . .” was performed at Ravinia Festival in June of 2007. The second was an eight-movement work for jazz trio and string quartet entitled “Muses and Amusements”. This world premiere with the Turtle Island Quartet was also performed at Ravinia Festival in June of 2008. And the latest work was a multimedia tribute to Abraham Lincoln on the 200th anniversary of his birth. This eight-movement work entitled “Proclamation of Hope: A Symphonic Poem by Ramsey Lewis” was world premiered once again at Ravinia Festival in June of 2009 and was performed again in November of 2010 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. It consisted of Mr. Lewis performing with his trio and twenty-one other musicians on stage enhanced with visuals on giant screens and a historical description in the program conveying what each movement represented. Scott Hall arranged the music and conducted, Michael Coakes created the visuals, Guthrie Ramsey wrote the historical descriptions and Jan Lewis was senior advisor/coordinator. In August of 2010, Mr. Lewis composed yet again a multimedia work to have its premiere at Tokyo Blue Note in Tokyo, Japan. The work entitled “Colors: The Ecology of Oneness” received critical acclaim. This performance of “Colors” in Tokyo as well as the Kennedy Center performance of “Proclamation of Hope” were taped by Chicago Public Television station WTTW and “Proclamation of Hope” was broadcasted nationally in 2011.
Mr. Lewis continues to perform in the U.S. and abroad with his quintet: Henry Johnson on guitar, Joshua Ramos on bass, Charles Heath on drums and Tim Gant on keyboards.
The acclaimed singer named Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year three times, Singer of the Year four times and awarded the Sammy Davis Jr. Foundation award, performs a spell-binding evening of music that’s both live and alive.
Friday, April 3, 2015, 8:30p.m., Saturday, April 4, 2015, 8:30p.m., Sunday, April 5, 2015, 2:00p.m.