Jazz it up

Pianist Benny Green will headline Brigham Young University-Idaho’s winter jazz festival concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Hart Auditorium in Rexburg.

Green will be backed up by the Sound Alliance jazz band directed by BYU-Idaho director Mark Watkins.

According to a BYU-Idaho news release, Green combines mastery of keyboard technique with decades of real world experience playing with some of the most celebrated artists of the last half century. The release said Green has been hailed as perhaps the most exciting hard-swinging, hard-bop pianist to ever emerge from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

Green’s most recent recordings, “Live in Santa Cruz” (2015) and “Magic Beans” (2012) highlight his brilliance, the release said. Since emerging under the tutelage of Betty Carter, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard and Ray Brown in the early 1980s, Green has become a highly regarded pianist and bandleader. His efforts to expand upon the language of the classical jazz canon have placed him not only among the best interpreters but also among the vanguard of musicians keeping jazz’s evolution going.

Green was born in New York in 1963 and grew up in Berkeley, California, beginning classical piano studies at the age of 7. Influenced by his father, a tenor saxophonist, his attention soon turned to Jazz.

“I began trying to improvise on the piano, imitating the records I’d been hearing from my father’s collection, which included a lot of Monk and Bird… it was a gradual process of teaching myself,” he said in the release.

Tickets for the BYU-Idaho Center Stage concert are $12 for the general public and $6 for BYU-Idaho students, and are available at byui.edu/tickets, at the Kimball Ticket Office or by calling 208-496-3170.