Jazz Beat: Cassandra Wilson, Dave Koz, Lyle Mays ...

Jazz singer to play festival; saxophonist at Miss Universe pageant; pianist/keyboardist to release fourth CD.

Singer Cassandra Wilson and cornetist/guitarist Olu Dara — two jazz musicians fond of crossing over into blues and folk — are on the bill for this summer's Stern Grove Festival, running Sundays in San Francisco from June 11 to August 13. It used to be an all-classical affair, but artists from other genres have been making inroads. Also performing are pop-jazz act Hiroshima (June 11) and folky jazz group Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (June 25). Wilson and Dara play July 16. ...

R&B singer Montell Jordan will join jazz saxophonist Dave Koz to perform their cover of the Wham! ballad "Careless Whisper" at the Miss Universe pageant in Nicosia, Cypress, on Friday (May 12). Their version of the song first appeared on Koz's 1999 album The Dance. ... Pianist/Keyboardist Lyle Mays of Pat Metheny Group fame will release his fourth CD in June on Warner Bros. Solo — Improvisations for Expanded Piano features live selections that Mays performed in the studio, then added midi-triggered synthesizer voicings. ...

Thank — or blame — Diana Krall for the glut of artists tackling Tin Pan Alley standards. Now even trumpeter Roy Hargrove is getting in on the act. On Moment to Moment, due May 23 from Verve, he hauls out strings to lavish lushness on such chestnuts as "You Go to My Head," "The Very Thought of You" and the title track. ... At least Vic Damone can say he's been there. The 71-year-old crooner will sing songs from the '30s, '40s and '50s on a Farewell to Remember retirement tour that begins May 27 at the Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, N.Y., and ends with a performance at Carnegie Hall on May 18, 2001. ...

Great pianist Chick Corea will release two solo CDs on June 6. On the first he'll tackle standards such as "Monk's Dream"; on the second he'll play tunes of his own that have become standards: "Spain" and "Brazilia," to name two. Stretch/Concord is releasing the discs. ... Warner Bros. is shooting for a fall release of a two-CD live set from the Pat Metheny Trio, featuring bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Bill Stewart. There could be a studio date this fall for the Pat Metheny Group, too. ...

The Rippingtons' upcoming CD, Live Across America (Peak/Windham Hill Jazz), features performances from last summer's tour. It's due May 16. ... It's generally considered rare when soulful, eccentric singer Nina Simone shows up in the States, but now she's scheduled to play at least two festivals. The 67-year-old diva will perform at the Atlanta Jazz Festival on May 26. She's already scheduled to perform at FleetBoston Pavilion in Massachusetts on June 6 (see item below). Other acts at the May 19–29 Atlanta Festival include pianists Herbie Hancock and Cyrus Chestnut, violinist Regina Carter, singer Cassandra Wilson and drummer T.S. Monk. ...

Actor Michael Douglas is promoting Noches Mediterráneas, an international-music festival to be held this summer in the town of Valldemossa on the Spanish island of Mallorca. In addition to Mediterranean music, the festival will feature flamenco, gospel and jazz. Among the artists scheduled are jazz pianist Uri Caine, flamenco singer Carmen Linares, minimalist composer Philip Glass and flamenco performers Michel Camilo and Tomatito. ...

Amulet Records, an independent label created by drummer Billy Martin of jazz-rock crossover trio Medeski Martin & Wood, will host two free concerts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)on May 11. Martin and G. Calvin Weston will perform with the venerable DJ Logic on turntables. Artist/percussionist Bob Moses will stretch out with his quartet the following night. For more information on Amulet Records, check (www.amuletrecords.com). ... Tony Bennett and Diana Krall seem to be playing everywhere this summer — including Boston's FleetBoston Pavilion, it was announced recently. The duo will sing from August 25–26, but plenty of other jazz singers check into the venue before that, including the always beguiling Nina Simone, making one of her rare U.S. appearances June 6. Joni Mitchell comes in with her jazz big band May 28; Cassandra Wilson and Cesaria Evora play on June 25 and Al Jarreau performs Aug. 15. ...

Just in time for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the 1947 film New Orleans has been released on video and DVD. Directed by Arthur Lubin, the film stars Arturo De Cordova as the proprietor of a Bourbon Street gambling casino where jazz cats hang out. The plot supposedly isn't much, but there are scenes with Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, who sings "Farewell to Storyville." The DVD features an essay on the making of the film and two musical shorts. ...

Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center is gearing up for the fifth annual Mary Lou Williams Women In Jazz Festival, running May 11–13. Named for the late great pianist, who happens to be the subject of a new book, "Morning Glory," the fest will feature performances by singer Flora Purim, pianist Marian McPartland and several other women. McPartland will pick up the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award for her lifetime contributions to the art form. On May 7 and 8 the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, under the direction of David Baker and featuring Geri Allen on piano, will play Williams' music for free. ...

Singers Tony Bennett and Joni Mitchell — backed by a 70-piece orchestra conducted by Vince Mendoza — highlight a season of music at the Pine Knob Music Theatre in Michigan, beginning Memorial Day. Other artists include singer Diana Krall and rockers Steely Dan, Kiss, Santana and Megadeth. ...

Saxophonist Joshua Redman, vibraphonist Stefon Harris and guitarist John Pizzarelli lead the lineup for the Orange County Performing Arts Center's 2000–01 Jazz Club series, running in 299-seat Founders Hall. The series begins Sept. 22. Other artists include pianist Eddie Palmieri and the husband-wife duo Jimmy and Jeannie Cheatham. ...

— sonicnet.com staff report