Shout out: Smooth Jazz for Scholars

If you are a jazz fan and don’t know about Jay Rowe’s Smooth Jazz for Scholars, you probably should.

jay rowe
Jay Rowe, at last years Smooth Jazz for Scholars. Photo by yours truly.

Here’s the back story, kids.

Jay Rowe is the keyboardist for Special EFX, as well as a lot of other people. If I had to list his entire curriculum vitae, I’d probably be typing all night, so I’ll just spare you that and keep it at he’s really damn good at what he does and I’m sure you’ve seen him before. And for the past 13 years, he’s been holding an annual concert to benefit the music program in the public schools of Milford, CT.


Some not very many years ago, this event got so popular that it expanded to two nights. And the lineup just keeps getting better. Best part – you never know who will be invited until Jay Rowe announces it.

Well, here’s the deal this year, for the 14th anniversary event:

Peter White, Marion Meadows, Brian Simpson and Matt Marshak

Nick Colionne, Chieli Minucci, Eric Darius and Nelson Rangell.

Yes, you look at this and you think, “Well, it’s the same people as usual”. Yes, seems that way, but for this event – no. No it’s not.

Meadows, Minucci, and Rangell are the only people who can be counted on to return year in and year out, for multiple reasons. Marion Meadows is currently involved with Project Music in his hometown of Stamford, CT, which, among many things, provides kids with music lessons after school. Nelson Rangell – those of you who know, love, and remember his Turning Night Into Day album know just what he can do, and his current work is a continued credit to his style and ability, and he’s someone whom I only ever see at this event. I don’t see many Nelson Rangell performances advertised anymore, which is a crying shame, because truly…a sound like his is rare as all get-out. Chieli Minucci – if you don’t know who this guy is, I can’t help you. If you want to know, find out for yourself.

But everyone else rotates year to year. I don’t think I’ve yet seen Brian Simpson at that event just yet – to note, I started attending in 2011 – and Eric Darius is another new face, though I have a pretty clear memory of him at Berks in 2010 and he has only improved in his stage presence and sound since. You guys know I’m a major supporter of Matt Marshak, and this is Matt’s first go at Scholars that I can recall. Nick’s last go at this gig was 2014. And Nick and Eric together… party o’clock, people. Party the hell o’clock! in the best ways.

You probably remember my jaw being on the ground when Jackiem Joyner took the stage last year and completely blew everyone away. Well, that’s what this event is. You don’t know who’ll spontaneously combust. You don’t know who might walk out onstage as a surprise.

Here’s an even better perspective for you. A standard California two-day event, if you’re out of town, will cost you, inclusive of flight, hotel, meals, tix, and transit, close to $1,750.

Now consider this:
– You can fly into Bradley Airport in New Haven, or into NYC and take MetroNorth to Milford. Late April is still not tourist season, and you’re likely to get pretty decent flights.
– The local Hampton Inn in Milford offers a special rate for the event, and the special rate is more than reasonable.
– The venue, the Parsons Complex, sits within about three blocks’ walk from the Milford train station and on the opposite side of the train overpass, there’s a pretty hopping downtown area with plenty of restaurants for pre-game and after-party.
– And again… the tickets are $70 for both nights.

If you’re out of town or not on the East Coast altogether, you can, very very reasonably, attend the entire event for under a grand, depending on your flight costs.

Yes, I’m serious.

Think about it.

More info at:

General admission tix at:

Who knows? I just might see you there.