Big band sound returns to Miami with Melton Mustafa Orchestra

mcneir | 9/10/2012, 11:23 a.m.

Jazz is still alive and well, according to Keith Valles, 54, president of Miamis Sunshine Jazz Organization, Inc. And to celebrate South Floridas premier jazz-related services organization, he and his crew are planning a silver anniversary celebration slated for Saturday, Sept. 15th at Liberty Citys Caleb Center at 7 p.m. Thats right theyve been around for 25 years. For Valles, this is a very special night both because he follows in the footsteps of his father, China Valles, the founder and originator of Sunshine Jazz, and because the evening will showcase one of Miamis most accomplished jazz musicians Melton Mustafa. The evening will feature the 17-piece Melton Mustafa Orchestra with special vocalist Allan Harris, saxophonist Jesse Jones, Jr. and three world-class female vocalists: Alice Day, Brenda Alford and Yvonne Brown, he said. Its a real salute to the big band sound and our fans have told us how much they love this music from days gone by. The mission of the organization is to create jazz awareness through producing opportunities for audiences of all ages so they can experience the beauty of Americas indigenous music and their fan base continues to grow with each passing year. Jazz: Music that feeds the soul As for the future of jazz, Valles says while it may have its ebbs and flows in terms of popularity, jazz will always remain a staple especially in the Black community. Jazz is a combination of good people, a good vibe and a good, positive atmosphere, he said. Not that other music doesnt have that but name a musical genre where you can sit down and talk with a positive vibe all around you. Thats what jazz is. You can cite other styles like calypso, reggae, big band, standards and even smooth jazz. But in every setting with a jazz label, you have a positive vibe. So what distinguishes jazz from other forms of music? Valles says thats an easy question to answer. Improvisation is the trademark of jazz and a required skill for any jazz vocalist or musician, he added. Its all based on feeling. Sometimes you feel its time to go up the scale, sometimes you decide to go down and make it more bluesy. Artists feed off of each other and must be able to flow freely. And when folks come out to the celebration, they are going to see some real jazz happening. If Grover Washington, Jr., Idris Muhammad, Patrice Rushen, Jimmy Owens, Herbie Mann, Najee or Randy Brecker are names that titillate your soul, this is a show you dont want to miss. For more information go to www. sunshinejazzorganization.com or call 305-693-2594. By D. Kevin McNeir