MACON – Grammy™ nominated jazz saxophonist Brad Leali will headline the final concert in a yearlong series that has celebrated the 10th anniversary of the McCorkle Music Building at Mercer University, held on Tuesday, April 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Fickling Hall. He will be joined by the Mercer Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Monty Cole, director of jazz studies at Mercer. Tickets are $10 for the general public and free with Mercer I.D. Call (478) 301-5470 or buy online at tickets.mercer.edu.
“Within the world of jazz, Brad Leali is among the elite,” remarked Dr. John H. Dickson, dean of Townsend School of Music. “Formerly the principal alto saxophonist and conductor with the Count Basie and Harry Connick Jr. orchestras, Brad is the consummate ‘jazzer’ and a heck of a nice guy!”
“He is one of America’s pre-eminent jazz educators and jazz artists,” agreed Cole, who is excited that Mercer students have the chance to work and perform with Leali. “He is currently teaching saxophone and directing the Three O’clock Band at the University of North Texas.”
Leali’s interest in jazz was peaked while listening to his father’s recordings of Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley. Upon graduating from the University of North Texas, he became lead alto saxophonist for the Harry Connick Jr. Orchestra. Leali was appointed musical director five months later. In 1995, he joined the Count Basie Orchestra under the leadership of Grover Mitchell as a featured alto saxophone soloist, and in 1999 they won a Grammy™ award for their CD, Count Plays Duke. On this recording, Leali was also nominated for a Grammy™ for his solo work on the classic Billy Strayhorn composition, The Star-Crossed Lovers.
Leali has performed nationally and internationally with music greats including Freddie Hubbard, Clark Terry, Joe Williams, Jimmy Cobb, Nancy Wilson, Frank Foster, Jon Hendricks, Roy Hargrove, The Mingus Big Band, Jack McDuff, George Duke, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jimmy Smith, and Billy Joel, Robert Downey Jr., Fantasia, Kid Rock, Yolanda Adams, Brian McKnight and others. As one of the top jazz musicians in New York City, Leali is a staple in all of the legendary jazz venues such as the Village Vanguard, Blue Note, Jazz Standard, Iridium and Birdland. He has been part of the Kennedy Center Honors Program and he has performed at Lincoln Center. He and his 18-piece orchestra recorded a CD, titled Maria Juanez, which has earned critical praise.
In addition to his jazz performance with the Mercer Jazz Ensemble, Leali will present a jazz saxophone master class for area high school students on Monday, April 2, at 4 p.m. in the Mercer Choir Room at the McCorkle Music Building. For more information about the master class call (478) 301-4134.
Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music, the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings and the Townsend-McAfee Institute for Graduate Studies offer undergraduate and graduate professional music studies in a comprehensive university environment. Townsend is nationally recognized for its outstanding faculty, award-winning students, performance ensembles and state-of-the-art facilities. The McDuffie Center, a special institute within Townsend School of Music, is a highly selective program that prepares string students for success in the real world. Students study with some of America’s most renowned string musicians, receiving music instruction of conservatory quality, while earning an academically well-rounded education from a comprehensive, nationally recognized university. For more information and a complete listing of this season’s concerts please visit music.mercer.edu or call (478) 301-5470.