Jazz Master Class

Artist, bandleader Grace Kelly gives class, concert
September 24, 2014

Jazz artist and band leader
Grace Kelly visits WPI and
Worcester for a workshop
today and concert on Friday.

She carries the name of a princess, a legendary actress of the stage and screen, but this Grace Kelly graciously shares the name while making one for herself.

In the jazz world, she is a rising star with A-list credentials and chops to match. At 22, she’s already accomplished what seasoned veterans can only envision.

Check out these bio notes from her website: “Grace wrote her first song when she was 7 years old, recorded her first out of 8 independently released CD’s at 12, and orchestrated, arranged and performed an original composition with the Boston Pops Orchestra at 14.

“As a bandleader Grace has performed over 600 concerts worldwide. …. [She] has also performed and/or recorded with artists such as Huey Lewis, Harry Connick Jr., Dave Brubeck, Gloria Estefan, David Sanborn, Questlove, Esperanza Spalding, Phil Woods, James Cotton, and Wynton Marsalis, to name a few.”

Who: Grace Kelly

What: Jazz master class

Where: Spaulding Recital Hall, Alden Memorial

When: Wednesday, Sept. 24, 5:30–7 p.m.

Cost: free, open to all

Kelly brings her considerable talents to WPI and Worcester this week for a workshop and concert that should prove to be educational, inspirational, and big fun.

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKY-uiJU85w.

Throughout her young life and fledgling career, Kelly has been pegged to the world of jazz, but the saxophonist is a restless soul, who wishes to shed any form of categorical restraint. Commenting on the condition, Kelly offers a kind of mission statement in her song “Please Don’t Box Me In.”

“I listen to a wide range of music, from Miles Davis to John Mayer,” Kelly explains. “Lately I’ve been listening to more contemporary music and songwriters and at the same time I’ve been more inspired to write songs.”

At her jazz master class at WPI, Kelly will break the session into sections: 1. Improvisation. 2. Connecting the melodies in your head to your instrument. 3. Creating “Magical Musical Moments” with your band. 4. Saxophone techniques. 5. What is jazz?

Who: Grace Kelly and band

What: Concert

Where: Tuckerman Hall, 10 Tuckerman Street

When: Friday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m.

Cost: $30 reserved seating

Tickets available at Tuckerman Hall box office


Professor Rich Falco, director of jazz studies, says, “She will critique the WPI Jazz Ensemble and focus on ensemble performance concepts and improvisation development.” The class takes place in the Janet Earle Room, B-level of Alden Memorial.

In describing the segment called “Improvisation,” Kelly says on her website, “I’ll be teaching my concepts to the students along with hands-on exercises during our time together. Many of the techniques/concepts will be explored to the depth that is appropriate for the level of musicianship of the class.”

The concert at Tuckerman Hall is a benefit for radio station WICN 90.5 FM, Worcester. Brian Barlow, former station manager and longtime jazz promoter, has witnessed the growth and development of Kelly for more than a decade.

“I first met Grace Kelly when she was 13 years old,” he says. “She had an extraordinary talent even at that age and she was extremely bright, intelligent, and composed. After several recordings she recently released an album of ‘ethereal pop,’ that will likely propel her career.  While everyone in our listening audience and beyond has heard about her, she’s never been presented in concert locally. We felt it was time.  She has come into her own vocally, composing, and playing, and will have a very long career.”

Kelly’s band includes guitarist Pete McCann, keyboardist Nikki Lelasi, bassist Julia Adamy, and drummer Ross Pederson. Since graduating from Berklee College of Music last year, Kelly has moved to Los Angeles.

“It’s been an exciting time for me,” she says. “I’ve been working with a couple of great producers and experimenting with my musical sounds. I’m really excited to have just released Working for the Dreamers. I think it is always so important to keep searching, finding something new and growing as an artist and human being. I’m continuing to expand and create in this chapter of my life.”