Mary Stallings, Ernie Watts and Charles Turner In Concert

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Event Information:

Admission: Free
Location: Dillard University’s Lawless Memorial Chapel
2601 Gentilly Blvd.
New Orleans, Louisiana 70122
Phone: (504) 558-6100

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Mary Stallings

Mary Stallings


The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation presents its fifth annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Jazz Tribute Concert at Dillard University's Lawless Memorial Chapel on Friday, Jan. 15.

Admission is free, no advance registration is required. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.; the concert begins at 6:30 p.m. following a brief program.

The concert, titled "Jazz & the Civil Rights Movement," features three outstanding performers: vocalists Mary Stallings and Charles Turner, and saxophonist Ernie Watts.

Mary Stallings began her career as a teenager in the 1950s, graduating from the gospel church in her hometown of San Francisco to the band of R&B pioneer Louis Jordan. By the mid-1960s, she was singing with Dizzy Gillespie at the Monterey Jazz Festival. She went on to share the stage with the likes of Joe Williams, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald before landing a residency with the Count Basie Orchestra. She put her career on hold in the 1970s to focus on family, but dove back into it in the 1980s and has been a mainstay of the jazz scene ever since, putting out a steady stream of recordings and collaborating with many of the top artists in the field - among them Monte Alexander, Geri Allen, Clark Terry, Eric Reed and Wycliffe Gordon.

Ernie Watts, who will join Mary Stallings as a featured guest, is a two-time Grammy Award winning saxophonist who has straddled the worlds of jazz, R&B and rock in his long career. After attending Berklee on a Downbeat scholarship in the 1960s, he went on to work with drummer Buddy Rich. He was a featured soloist on Marvin Gaye records for Motown, and he held down a gig with Doc Severinsen's band on "The Tonight Show" for 20 years. He played a noteworthy solo on a Frank Zappa record in 1972 ("The Grand Wazoo"), and toured with the Rolling Stones in the early 1980s. But he is perhaps best known for his work with the late jazz bassist Charlie Haden, whith whom he worked from the 1980s onward. He was the featured saxophonist on Kurt Elling's 2010 Grammy-winning album, "Dedicated To You," and in 2007 Watt's album "Analog Man" on his own label Flying Dolphin Records won the award in the 7th Annual Independent Music Awards for Best Jazz Album.

Charles Turner, whose quartet will open the concert, is a young singer who has been turning heads on the global jazz scene for a half-dozen years. Even before graduating from the Berklee College of Music in 2009, he was a veteran of the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, plus other locales across Europe. In New York, he has worked in the trenches, at small venues like Mintons, Smoke and Jazz, and big halls like Jazz At Lincoln Center, Birdland and Carnegie Hall. He is an alum of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program, and recently took first place in the first annual Duke Ellington Vocal Competition. He has worked with  Bobby McFerrin, Jason Moran, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Terri Lyne Carrington, among others. In 2014, he was the first place winner in the first annual Duke Ellington Center's Vocal Jazz Competition.

Our series of events honoring the Martin Luther King holiday weekend also includes an event on Thursday, Jan. 14 - also at Dillard's Lawless Chapel. It's a free gospel concert featuring outstanding New Orleans performers. A program honoring the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., begins at 6:30 p.m. The musical performance begins at 7 p.m.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.