Jonathan Batiste, Cecile McLorin Salvant and Elio Villafranca Honored At Jazz At Lincoln Center's Swing!

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Event Proceeds Benefit Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Education Programs  

On June 23, Jazz at Lincoln Center honored three rising stars in jazz – Jonathan Batiste, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and Elio Villafranca – at swing! A Summer Benefit Cocktail Party in The Appel Room.

The Appel Room, which has been called “the sexiest room in New York City,” is one of three main performance halls at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s home, Frederick P. Rose Hall, located at Broadway at 60th Street in New York, New York.

Proceeds from the event benefit the thousands of education programs Jazz at Lincoln Center produces every year. In the 2013-14 season, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s performance and education initiatives impacted audiences on both local and global scale.

The organization served 724 children through its WeBop early childhood education program, while 2,700 schools participated in the annual Essentially Ellington high school jazz program. For more information on Jazz at Lincoln Center’s education programs; 

swing! A Summer Benefit Cocktail Party opened with cocktails provided by Bacardi and Harlem Brewing Company, and a performance by The Rodriguez Brothers featuring Mike Rodriguez, Robert Rodriguez, Ricky Rodriguez, Ludwig Afonso, and Paolo Stagnaro.

Guests included Jazz at Lincoln Center Chairman of the Board Robert J. Appel, board member and swing! Chair Lola C. West, and board member and swing! Co-Presenter Valentino Carlotti. Jazz at Lincoln Center board members in attendance were Elizabeth and Richard Cashin, Michael Fricklas and Donna Astion, and Mark Patterson.

swing! Honorary Chairs in attendance were Maya Haile and Marcus Samuelsson, Tamara Tunie, Eboni Marshall Turman and Rossie Turman, III.

swing! Co-Chairs in attendance were Valerie S. Brown, Christopher Montgomery, Kimberly Steward. Reginald Van Lee, swing! Co-Presenter, was in attendance. swing! Host Committee members in attendance were Ken Allen, Kelly Smith Beaty, Kesha Cash, Candice Cook, Dionyse Fitzwilliam, Ian S. Fuller, Phyllis Hollis, Angela Kyle, Spencer Means, Courtney Lee Mitchell and Marcus Mitchell, Jarrod Guy Randolph, Ayo Roach, Trevor Scotland, Clinton Townsend, Nicole Valentine, Eric Woods.

From the stage, Jazz at Lincoln Center Board Member and swing! Chair Lola C. West welcomed guests to the organization’s first summer cocktail benefit event. Ms. West encouraged guests to “come to Jazz at Lincoln Center often and share in the magic and the music that is created here year round.” She continued, “It takes a village to launch a new effort – opening new doors to new audiences,” and thanked all committee members and guests for their support.

A.J. Calloway, “Extra” correspondent and host of the swing! festivities, took to the stage and acknowledged the outstanding view from The Appel Room. Mr. Calloway also announced that special guests would be gifted with two complimentary downloads of music by each of the evening’s honorees. 

Mr. Calloway then introduced each honoree who performed for the swing! guests.

Kimberly Steward, swing! Co-Chair, presented an award to Mr. Batiste who said, “Jazz is expanding and will continue to expand.” 

Chris Montgomery, swing! co-chair, presented an award to Ms. McLorin Salvant, who accepted by saying that young musicians are “welcomed with open arms at Jazz at Lincoln Center. This is a place for jazz and for someone getting started in the field. Thank you.”

swing! co-chair, Valerie Brown, presented Elio Villafranca with his award. He spoke of discovering jazz while growing up in Cuba. “Freedom of expression is important,” he said. “I came here to be free and jazz provides me with the opportunity.”

Mr. Calloway returned to the stage to congratulate the honorees before the Rodriguez Brothers performed another raucous set. swing! ticket holders were treated to cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a one year Jazz at Lincoln Center membership. swing! Honorary Chairs are Tonya and Spike Lee, Maya Haile and Marcus Samuelsson, Lance Riddick, Mickalene Thomas, Tamara Tunie, Eboni Marshall Turman and Rossie Turman, III, Jeffrey Wright. swing! Co-Chairs are Valerie S. Brown, Mignon Espy-Edwards, Christopher Montgomery, Kimberly Steward. swing! Co-Presenters are Valentino D. Carlotti, Reginald Van Lee, The Steward Family Foundation.swing!

Host Committee includes Ken Allen, Paul Atkins, Kelly Smith Beaty, Kesha Cash, Harriette Cole, Candice Cook, Dionyse Fitzwilliam, Ian S. Fuller, Phyllis Hollis, Jim Johnson, Angela Kyle, Ed Lewis, Spencer Means, Courtney Lee Mitchell and Marcus Mitchell, Jarrod Guy Randolph, Ayo Roach, Trevor Scotland, Clinton Townsend, Nicole Valentine, Faye Wattleton, Eric Woods. 

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