May 23, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) Los Angeles area singer Leslie Lewis will showcase her rich vocal talent and smooth jazz stylings as the lead musician at the next Pierce Street Jazz concert. In so doing, she will hold the distinction as the first singer to lead an ensemble since the jazz series began two years ago.
The Leslie Lewis Quartet will perform May 25, 7 p.m., at the La Sierra University Alumni Center, 11500 Pierce Street in Riverside. Admission is free. The band includes Lewis’s husband Gerard Hagen on piano, Donald Dean on drums, and Henry “the Skipper” Franklin on bass.
Lewis’s background on stage and in the studio includes featured performances around the country with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, and with members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Jazz Tap Ensemble. Additionally, she has performed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art jazz series, in New York City at the Joyce Theatre and the Lehman College Jazz Festival, at the Barclay Theater in Irvine, the Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, at Disney theme parks, and at Opryland in Nashville, Tenn. She has worked with a cadre of top musicians including pianist John Bunch, trombonist Britt Woodman, trumpeter Joe Wilder and saxophonists Norris Turney and Harry Allen.
In addition to her many stage performances, Lewis is making her mark in the recording industry. Her first solo project, “Of Two Minds,” debuted in 2008. The album showcases the Gerard Hagen Trio and Los Angeles jazz greats Gary Foster, Ron Stout, Rob Lockart, and Larry Koonse. “Of Two Minds” landed on national jazz radio report CMJ at no. 28 and received five stars in Swing Journal magazine when it was release in Japan. Her 2010 album showcases Brazilian jazz and is titled “Keeper of the Flame.” The album climbed to No. 15 on the CMJ national radio report and grabbed the spotlight when nationally syndicated jazz radio host Bob Parlocha showcased the project on his show. It also received airplay on Sirius XM radio.
Pianist Hagen has performed with his trio since 1997. The group includes Domenic Genova on bass and Jerry Kalaf on drums. Hagen has worked as a soloist and band leader since arriving in Los Angles in 1983, and has performed with renowned saxophonist Gary Foster. He has played in numerous venues and festivals throughout the United States and Canada including the Lehman College Jazz Festival, the Dana Point Jazz Festival, the Los Angeles County Art Museum jazz series and at the California Music Teachers’ Convention, according to his biography. He has served as a guest artist and clinician.
Bassist Franklin, known in music circles as the Skipper, organizes the Pierce Street Jazz concerts for La Sierra. He has performed on more than 150 albums and compact discs including gold releases since 1970, many of which he produced. In March he released his 24th album, “Soul of the World,” recorded with his band. His band’s 2009 album, “Home Cookin’,” recorded on Franklin’s SP Records label, features the renowned Barbara Morrison on vocals. The project received airplay on KJAZZ 88.1 FM.
Franklin has played his upright bass with numerous jazz and pop greats including Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, Count Basie, Freddie Hubbard and Milt Jackson, and was part of the legendary Hugh Masekela’s band during the late 1960s. When not on tour in various parts of the United States and the world, Franklin performs at The Historic Mission Inn in Riverside, Calif.
Jazz drummer Dean’s career experiences involve playing with such greats as Kenny Dorham, Les McCann, and other top musicians. His studio work includes performance on McCann’s “Swiss Movement” album which included the hit song, “Compared to What?”
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University