Al Strong

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Saturday, 2017, July 8 - 7:00pm

Trumpet player Al Strong is well known in the Triangle's growing jazz scene. He is a gifted musician, arranger, and composer; a respected instructor in his role as adjunct professor at NC Central University's Jazz Studies program; and as the co-founder of the Art of Cool Project, a non-profit jazz presenting organization that has been working to expand the audience for jazz in the Triangle since 2011. For this concert, he will be joined by Alan Thompson (saxophone), JC Martin (guitar), Sean Mason (piano), Kenny Phelps-McKeown (bass), and Jeremy 'Bean' Clemons (drums).

Strong has performed for artists such as Brandford Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Clay Aiken, and Linda Eder. He has also lent his trumpet playing to an array of talent including The Foreign Exchange, Yazarah, Soul Understated featuring Mavis 'Swan' Poole, and Big Daddy Kane, along with a number of others. Strong's debut album, LoveStrong Vol. 1, showcases his distinctly robust sound and musical versatility. It is appealing to both new listeners of the genre as well as jazz aficionados.  The collection features 10 tracks, including 6 original compositions and 4 contemporary renditions of jazz standards. Though firmly rooted in the tradition of greats like Louis Armstrong and Count Basie, Strong and his gathering of musicians achieve a type of lush interplay that only comes from truly being in the moment. Strong ingeniously displays his intuitive musical command from cover to cover, incorporating progressive jazz, soul, gospel, and afro-beat grooves. Strong's focus on displaying a distinctly modern sound is founded in his beliefs of living in the present and being able to take bold risks with the music.

Strong grew up surrounded by music, including both his grandmother's weekly in-home church services, where gospel hymns on the organ were common, and his grandfather's more secular music collection, including the likes of Ray Charles, Jimmy Smith, and Donald Byrd, among others. He spent much of his childhood trying to replicate the music he heard, reproducing the sounds with whatever household items he could get his hands on. Growing up in DC continually spurred Strong's musical curiosity; the influences of Caribbean, go-go, orchestral, and jazz early on allowed him to develop a mature affinity and respect for a variety of music disciplines.

 

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Free and open to the public
Al Strong, seated, in a gray suit, red shirt, and tie, holds his trumpet in his left hand resting on his left leg; his right hand is on his right leg, right elbow pointing out.