“Daryl represents everything this music is about, his respect for the history belies his youth.”
– T.S. Monk
This year we begin a program that honors African American jazz artists who made an indelible mark on the music and the civil rights struggles of their time. The first in the series is today’s tribute to Erroll Garner—an adaptation of his renowned Concert by the Sea.Garner, one of the outstanding pianists and composers of the century, was self-taught and never learned to read music. He was already working professionally at age 11 but was refused union card until 1956 becausehe could not read. While his mega-hit Misty is perhaps his most popular, it was a recording of a live performance in 1955 that would cement his legacy. Captured by an audience member on tape, it was later released by Columbia Records and became one of the best-selling, most influential jazz albums of all time. Garner struggled alongside musicians of color and became an activist for removing racial barriers in the industry and asserting artist rights.
Daryl Johns, bass
Bassist Daryl Johns is the youngest headliner ever to appear at Litchfield. At this writing he is 19 years old and has already wowed the jazz community. He was also the youngest semi-finalist in the history of the Thelonious Monk Competition at age 13.
We first met Daryl as a Jazz Camper when he was 10 and joined his father, the great drummer Steve Johns –a teaching artist at LJC—for his first jazz camp experience. Even then, you could hear the promise. With his father’s help and that of his mother, saxophonist Debbie Keefe, Daryl has developed a distinctive voice of his own and has played professionally for a number of years already. He appeared at the Monterey and Montreal Jazz Festivals with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, at the Detroit Festival with Greg Osby, for a week at the Blue Note with Larry Coryell, and with Curtis Fuller at Kennedy Center.
Daryl is the recipient of the Michael Kamen Solo Award and was named Wlabels. His first apeparance at LJF pairs him with pianist Orrin Evans and his father, drummer Steve Johns.
Orrin Evans, piano
Pianist Orrin Evans grew up in Philadelphia. He attended Mason Gross School of The Arts at Rutgers University where he worked with Kenny Barron and Joanne Brackeen. Orrin has performed and recorded with Bobby Watson, Wallace Roney, Mos Def, Pharoah Sanders, Antonio Hart, Carmen Lundy, Ralph Peterson, The Mingus Big Band, and many more. He has six CDs on the Criss Cross label, and more on Palmetto, Positone and his own label, Imani Records. He has produced records for J. D. Allen, Nasheet Waits, Duane Eubanks and others. Orrin appeared with his Trio on the LJF in 2013 and has been a teaching artist at Litchfield Jazz Camp.
Steve Johns, drums
Steve Johns was born in Boston, MA and began playing the drums at the age of nine. Steve has studied with Alan Dawson, Bob Gullotti, Fred Buda and Vic Firth. Johns graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he studied classical percussion. In the spring of 1982, he moved to New York City. There he began working with Joe Locke, Ralph Moore, Bill Evans, Steve Slagle, Conrad Herwig, Vincent Herring, Kevin Eubanks, Dennis Irwin, Dave Stryker, Benny Green and others.
As well as having a busy performance schedule, Mr. Johns has taught at the Vermont Jazz Center, Jazz In July at UMass, The Thelonius Monk Institute in Aspen Colorado, Williams College in Massachusetts and is currently an adjunct instructor at Montclair State University. Steve has been a resident artist at the Litchfield Jazz Camp since 2005.