Last week, the Smithfield-based jazz band Forte played at the Daily Press Choice Awards, an annual event that honors businesses on the Peninsula. The group, led by sax man Brian Pinner, sounded tight and soulful.
That's not exactly hot, breaking news. The contemporary jazz group has been entertaining music lovers in the region for many years.
Here's what's new. The group is poised to pass an important milestone. Forte has been booked at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., one of America's great jazz clubs. The band will play there Wednesday, Dec. 19.
Blues Alley has been hosting great blues and jazz since 1965. It's considered a landmark. The club's current schedule boasts big names including Jonathan Butler, Tuck & Patti, Dave Douglas, David Benoit, Roy Hargrove and Rachelle Ferrell.
What's next? The Village Vanguard?
Here's part of what Pinner told me in a recent e-mail:
... After nearly 18 years of doing what we do, we’re finally getting a little recognition. This business is still hard and very fickle, but we’re finally impressing on some folks that the jazz group from Smithfield has a lot to offer. We’re trying to get some Hampton Roads folks to make their way up to DC with us in December.
... We will be playing at Blues Alley in Washington DC. According to many in the industry, once you’ve played Blues Alley, you’ve arrived. That doesn’t mean you’re making any money or known around the country. It just means that you have the respect of some influential people in the music world. We’re playing on Wednesday Dec. 19. Some of the notable artists that will be rounding out the 2012 at Blues Alley include Jonathan Butler, The Yellowjackets, Terence Blanchard, Roy Ayers, Najee, Alex Bugnon, Dave Benoit, and Rachelle Ferrell. That’s pretty darn good company.
Forte has also played other notable dates to include:
Summer Breeze Concert with Roy Ayers – 2002
Summer Breeze Concert with Will Downing – 2003
Norfolk Jazz Festival with Gerald Albright and Richard Elliott - 2006
Willett Hall with Cece Winans – 2007
Norfolk Jazz Festival with The Rippingtons, Eric Marienthal, and others – 2008
Forte CD released in 2009
Brian Pinner CD released in 2009
Hampton Jazz Festival with Fantasia, the Ojays, and others – 2009
Sax and Strings Fest with Gerald Albright, Kim Waters, Karen Briggs and others – 2011
Richmond Jazz Fest Homegrown at the Hipp with Secret Society and others - 2011
Norfolk Jazz Festival with Four80East, The Sax Pack and others - 2012
LIVE! on Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Washington DC - 2012
Richmond Jazz Festival with George Benson, Najee, Norman Brown, and others – 2012
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