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Berklee College of Music and ParkARTS Proudly Present the Third Annual "Jazz at the Fort"

Walter Beasley, Esperanza Spalding to perform free concert hosted by WGBH's Eric Jackson at historic Highland Park on Fort Hill

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Walter Beasley
BOSTON, MA, July 14, 2003 — The City of Boston Parks and Recreation ParkARTS Program and Berklee College of Music will present the third annual "Jazz at the Fort," an evening of jazz music on Saturday, August 2, 2003, at 6:30 p.m. The free concert, with local sponsorship to benefit Berklee's Sarah Vaughan Scholarship, will be held (weather permitting) at the Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Highland Park on Fort Hill in Roxbury; the rain site is Roxbury Community College's Media Arts building. The Sarah Vaughan Scholarship supports African-American Berklee students who demonstrate a financial need.

Performing at "Jazz at the Fort" will be chart-topping, smooth jazz saxophonist/vocalist, Berklee alumnus, and Associate Professor Walter Beasley, as well as rising star and current Berklee student, bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding. The concert will be hosted by Eric Jackson of WGBH-FM's "Eric in the Evening."

Surrounded by newly restored Victorian homes and redbrick row houses, historic Highland Park in Roxbury was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead in 1895 on Fort Hill, the site of an impressive defensive fort during the Revolutionary War in 1775, when it was designated as High Fort. The landmark site features a stunning white water standpipe tower built in 1869, which became an observation tower in 1906. The tower overlooks an expansive, panoramic view of Boston and serves as a spectacular performance backdrop. The park can comfortably accommodate an audience of 2,000 people. Folding chairs and blankets are recommended.

Parking will be provided by Roxbury Community College, down the hill on Tremont Street. For more information on "Jazz at the Fort," please call the President's Office of Community and Governmental Affairs at Berklee College of Music at (617) 747-2447.

Walter Beasley

A consummate stage and recording veteran, Walter Beasley recently released his seventh CD his much-anticipated N-Coded Music label debut Go With the Flow. He previously recorded on the Mercury and Shanachie labels. Showcasing Beasley's unique trademark sound, Go With the Flow demonstrates the master musician's innate, yet uncanny, ability to fuse R&B-tinged smooth jazz grooves with seductive quiet-storm melodies and hypnotic contemporary rhythms. As with past projects, on Go With the Flow Beasley distances himself from his saxophone brethren by seamlessly melding heartfelt instrumentals with soulful vocals.

Beasley's diversity comes from within, but he benefits from the youthful energy he absorbs from his students. "Being a professor has afforded me the opportunity to consistently be around eager, creative minds. It's a symbiotic relationship. I give them the tools to break down the walls, and they, in turn, give me the tools to keep my music fresh in terms of both current trends and current technologies. They're longing to do things that are different and so am I. It's a great situation because we all feed off of each other."

Over the years the California native and Berklee graduate has mastered the ability to share his art with other equally serious musicians. While a student at Berklee, his classmates consisted of such heralded talents as fellow saxophonist Branford Marsalis, vocalist Rachelle Ferrell, and "Tonight Show" guitarist/band leader Kevin Eubanks. Additionally, Beasley has toured and/or recorded with Stephanie Mills, Vanessa Williams, Brian McKnight, Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Bob James, Ronnie Laws, Everett Harp, and Norman Brown.

Since recording his self-titled album in 1987, Walter Beasley's success speaks for itself. He is among the top-ten-selling saxophonists worldwide and is the #3 top-selling African-American saxophonist.

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Esperanza Spalding
Photo by Nick Balkin
Esperanza Spalding
In December 2000, Esperanza Spalding was awarded a full scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music, where she is currently enrolled. Spalding, a quick study, has played her primary instrument, the upright bass since age fifteen. Shortly after learning the instrument's fundamentals, she began playing small jazz and blues venues around her hometown of Portland, Oregon. In February 2000 she joined the trio "Noise For Pretend," an eclectic jazz and pop fusion band for which she sang and played bass. By August 2000, the group had signed with the independent label Hush Records, which released two albums of their original compositions.

Spalding continued to branch out, playing with the jazz groups "Thara Memory's Super Band," "The Mel Brown Sextet," and "The Rob Schep's Big Band," as well as leading her own septet, "The Midnight 7," and her jazz trio "Trio Esperanza." In January 2001 she joined the Portland based hip-hop band "Black Science Tribe," which gained a sizable following by touring locally, while moving onto larger venues along the west coast.

Since moving to Boston, she has performed with such notable artists as Brian Blade, Michael Brecker, Dave Samuels, and others. In November 2002, she toured with Patti Austin playing music from Austin's new album For Ella. The tour, which re-launched in March 2003, included performances in New York's Lincoln Center, as well as Bay Area jazz club Kimball's.

About ParkARTS
In 1997, Mayor Thomas M. Menino approached the Boston Parks and Recreation Department with a mission: to bring the arts into Boston's park system. To meet this objective, late Commissioner Justine M. Liff created a multi-faceted cultural arts program covering the visual, performing, and participatory arts today known as ParkARTS. Building upon that legacy, ParkARTS and Berklee College of Music have committed to presenting free public performances in open spaces, developing new audiences in the arts, and providing cultural enrichment to the community. The project directors for "Jazz at the Fort" are Alda Marshall, Director, Mayor's Office of Parks and Recreation; and J. Curtis Warner Jr., Assistant Vice President, Community and Governmental Affairs, Berklee College of Music

About Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music was founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music was through the study and practice of contemporary music. For over half a century, the college has evolved constantly to reflect the state of the art of music and the music business. With over a dozen performance and nonperformance majors, a diverse and talented student body representing over 70 countries, and a music industry "who's who" of alumni, Berklee is the world's premier learning lab for the music of today and tomorrow.

Media, for further press information and JPEG photographs:

Nicholas Balkin
Office of Public Information
Berklee College of Music

For more information on this concert series, please call the President's Office of Community and Governmental Affairs at Berklee College of Music at (617) 747-2447.

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