New York City Verizon Music Festival Blends Top Emerging, Established Talent

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NEW YORK - Beginning Aug. 7th, New Yorkers will have a chance to discover new talent courtesy of the first Verizon Music Festival.

The Verizon Music Festival - taking place at various venues in Manhattan Aug. 7-11 - will not only bring in a bevy of established talent such as Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Al Jarreau, Rachelle Ferrell and George Duke to the Big Apple, but the festival also provides up-and-coming talent with a platform to showcase their musical talents.

Three acts -- Virginia Mayhew Group, Mike Harvey and E.S.T -- will perform at the festival's opening night concert, ''The Verizon Spotlight on Emerging Talent,'' at Bryant Park featuring special guest Chuck Mangione. A fourth act, Magali Souriau Orchestra will open for Abbey Lincoln, Wayne Shorter Quartet, James Carter and the Big 3 Palladium Orchestra at the Columbia University Quad on Aug. 11. All four acts were handpicked by a panel of New York City music experts.

From reggae to jazz to rock the Verizon Music Festival's ''Emerging Talent'' component will have something for everyone. The four acts include:

  • Saxophonist, composer and arranger Virginia Mayhew, who has performed with many of the top names in jazz, including Clark Terry, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Al Grey and Joe Williams.

  • Singer/song writer Mike Harvey, who mixes rock with soul and jazz, and for years has contributed background vocals to Luther Vandross, Ricky Martin and most recently on Steely Dan's Two Against Nature album, but who is now poised to be a lead singer in his own right.

  • French born pianist Magali Souriau, who started playing classical piano at the age of 3, but switched to jazz and has received many awards in recognition of her outstanding achievement in Jazz composition.

  • E.S.T. (the Esbjorn Svensson Trio) - comprised of pianist Esbjorn Svensson, bassist Dan Berglund, and drummer Magnus Ostrom - which plays traditional jazz compositions infused with a Swedish accent and a touch of classic rock n' roll.

The emerging talent artists were chosen by a panel of New York's music cognoscenti, including: Rhonda Hamilton, producer and radio host at WBGO-FM; Robert G. O'Meally from Columbia University's Center for Jazz Studies; Yves Beauvais from Columbia Records; John Szwed, writer and professor at Yale University; Will Lee, musician seen regularly on the Late Night Show; and Leticia Montalvo from Tempest Entertainment.

''The Verizon Music Festival's emerging talent artists, like the headliners, reflect the cultural and social scene of New York City,'' said Bruce Gordon, Verizon president of Retail Markets. ''Each of these performers have made an impact on our selection committee, and have earned the opportunity to showcase their talents before a wider audience.''

The Verizon Music Festival is a comprehensive, five-day celebration of music consisting of premier concerts with headlining acts, a series of free outdoor shows, and a three-day tribute to jazz improvisation from 1950 to the present. Verizon Music Festival performances are scheduled for venues such as the Beacon Theatre, Bryant Park, City Center, the Quad at Columbia University and the Pace Downtown Theater at Pace University.

''We are very proud to offer up-and-coming artists a chance to perform in front of new and larger audiences, as part of the Verizon Music Festival,'' said George Wein, CEO of Festival Productions, Inc. ''It's tremendously important to keep nurturing and encouraging new talent to keep quality music alive.''

''The Verizon Spotlight on Emerging Talent'' is a free show that is open to the general public and produced in association with the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation. Magali Souriau Orchestra is appearing Aug. 11 at the Columbia University Quad in a free concert, produced in association with Columbia University. Tickets for paid shows are still available at venue box offices (a complete festival schedule follows). Following the New York City performances, Festival Productions, Inc. will produce the Verizon Music Festival in Los Angeles, Sept. 28-Oct. 2, and in Tampa, Oct. 24-27. For updated festival information go to www.festivalproductions.net or www.verizon.com/musicfestival

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For more than 45 years, George Wein and Festival Productions Inc., have been the preeminent producers of music festivals and entertainment properties in the world, including the famed Newport Jazz Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the JVC Jazz Festivals Worldwide, among others. Throughout the years, FPI has built a storied reputation as the foremost experts in festival productions and Wein has personally worked with venerable jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 125 million access line equivalents and 28 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with approximately $65 billion in annual revenues and about 260,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com

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The Verizon Music Festival schedule for New York:

Tuesday, Aug. 7
The Verizon Spotlight on Emerging Talent
Virginia Mayhew Group
Mike Harvey
E.S.T plus Chuck Mangione
Bryant Park, 5-9 p.m.
Free, open to the public

Wednesday, Aug. 8
Hot Summer Nights
Al Jarreau, George Duke, Rachelle Ferrell
Produced in association with SFX
Beacon Theatre, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 9
Ray Charles, Natalie Cole
City Center, 8 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 10
Latina Grooves
Daniela Mercury (Brazil), Maria Rivas (Venezuela), Albita (Cuba)
Beacon Theatre, 8 p.m.

Delta Blues Cartel
featuring Homesick James Williamson, Henry Mule Townsend, Robert Lockwood, Jr. and David Honeyboy Edwards
B.B. King Club & Grill, 8 & 10 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 11
Abbey Lincoln
Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Brian Blade, John Patitucci & Danilo Perez
James Carter Chasin' The Gypsy Band
The Big 3 Palladium Orchestra Featuring Giovanni Hidalgo & Tito Puente Jr. (U.S. Debut)
Magali Souriau Orchestra
Columbia University Quadrangle, 4-9 p.m.
Free, open to the public

''Forward Motion: 50 Years of 'New' Music''
Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 7
Roscoe Mitchell & The Note Factory
Mark Dresser Trio with Denman Maroney & Mattias Ziegler
Tim Berne's Hard Cell with Craig Taborn & Tom Rainey

Wednesday, Aug. 8
Archie Shepp/Roswell Rudd ''Live in New York'' with Andrew Cyrille,
Grachan Moncur and Reggie Workman plus special guest Amiri Baraka

Thursday, Aug. 9
Sun Ra Arkestra
Nels Cline & Gregg Bendian ''Interstellar Space Revisited''
DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid

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