People & Stories Oral History Project: Jazz Fest 2016 Pt. 1

We are thrilled to continue our partnership with ArtsWestchester, The City of White Plains and the White Plains Business Improvement District on White Plains Jazz Fest 2016! Below is a special set of clips from the People & Stories Oral History Project. Each of the clips below includes stories and music from musicians who live locally, but have performed all over the world. Tom Van Buren, of ArtsWestchester, co-produced the interviews. Check out the Jazz Fest 2016 webpage for tickets and more information about all the great music happening September 20-25, 2016 in White Plains.

Bob Baldwin (keyboardist, composer, producer, arranger, radio host and author) was born in Mount Vernon, NY. He first learned piano from his father, a musician who worked with bassists Keter Betts and Art Davis. In 1986, Bob founded the Bob Baldwin/Al Orlo Project in New Rochelle, and appeared at the Bottom Line in New York City, opening for trumpeter Tom Browne. As a sideman, Bob worked with singers Phil Perry and Will Downing, and saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. and jazz violinist Noel Pointer. After releasing his first album in 1988, titled I've Got a Long Way to Go, Bob met his heroes Roberta Flack and Herbie Hancock at the Sony Innovators ceremony in Beverly Hills and was selected by Ms Flack from over 300 applicants in a competition leading to a contract with the Atlantic Jazz label. He released Rejoice (1990) and Reflections of Love (1992) featuring Lenny White, Will Downing, Marion Meadows, and James Robinson, among others and a third album for Atlantic Jazz, State of Mind (1994). Since then he has worked as an independent producer, touring internationally and releasing eighteen albums, including Never Can Say Goodbye, a tribute to Michael Jackson (2010), 2 / Re-Vibe (2011), Never Out of Season (2012), Twenty (2013) and MelloWonder / Songs in the Key of Stevie (2015). Bob is also founder and producer of NuUrbanJazz Radio. “It Is What It Is,” from Baldwin's New Urban Jazz, is the featured track on this recording. Baldwin will perform on Mamaroneck Avenue Stage on Sunday, September 25th.

Dennis Bell (pianist, arranger, producer and educator) and Claudette Washington-Bell (pianist and music educator)
Dennis is a graduate of the High School of Music & Art, NYU (B.Mus in Piano/Music Theory) and CUNY Queens College (MA in Composition), A Grammy nominee, Dennis has produced records by Doug E Fresh, Dave Valentin, New Voices of Freedom, U2, Touché and Lynette Washington among many others. He was the musical director/ conductor for the international tour of Jesus Christ Superstar and has written TV and radio jingles as well as musical scores for modern dance. He has performed on albums and concerts with Marcus Miller, Buddy Williams, Nick Brignola, Jimmy Owens, Dave Grusin, Buddy Morrow, Sal Salvador, Dave Valentin, Noel Pointer, Steve Jordan, U2, Lenny Kravitz, Celia Cruz, Billy Preston, and many others. He performed and conducted in venues from Carnegie and Alice Tully Halls to Madison Square Garden, and appeared on the Joan Rivers Show, New York at Night, MTV Music Video Awards, music videos, and in the movie “U2, Rattle and Hum”. Dennis is the founder and CEO of City Slicker Productions, Mark of Aries Music (BMI) and record label GuavaJamm Entertainment ( He was a long time Music Educator in the NYC school system. At LaGuardia HS of Music & Art and Performing Arts he was teacher of Jazz Improvisation, Musicianship, Choir and Music Technology. He was the long time Conductor of the award winning Bronx Boro-Wide Chorus and an Adjunct Professor of Music and Music Technology at Mercy College in Westchester County. Dennis Bell performed with singer Lynette Washington at the White Plains Jazz Fest in both 2013 and 2014. Dennis and Claudette Washington-Bell live locally and teach in the area. “Winter Dreams” from Bell's I, Myself & Me is the featured track on this recording.

Gil Parris (guitarist) is a highly versatile Grammy Award-nominated guitarist, performing and recording across multiple genres of rock, blues, jazz and pop music. When he's not performing around the local area, he works as a sideman for vocal legend Bobby Caldwell, playing in major jazz festivals around the world. After attending Berklee School of Music in Boston and touring Europe with a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, he became a recording artist, releasing six solo albums. He has also performed and recorded with more than twenty other ensembles and leaders. Gil Parris performed with Bernie Williams at the 2013 White Plains Jazz Fest, and the following year with Jazz and Blues singer Curtis Winchester. “New Beginning” from Parris' Blue Thumb is the featured track on this recording. Parris will lead the jam at Ron Blacks on Wednesday, September 21st at 9:00 PM.


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Categories: Local History and Oral History.