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Provided by John Clayton
Bassist John Clayton leads a band of seven up-and-coming jazz musicians, titled The Next Generation, at the JazzSLC series' final show of the season on May 21.

SALT LAKE CITY — Grammy Award-winning bassist John Clayton is no stranger to the JazzSLC jazz scene, having played his first concert with the series some 20 years ago. On Monday, May 21, Clayton returns with seven of the greatest young jazz talents on the scene today for a special concert at the Capitol Theatre.

“I wanted to close out the series with something really big,” said Gordon Hanks, JazzSLC's founder, “but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do so I decided to call John to see if he could help me out. In typical Clayton fashion he said he’d put together something.”

To say the least, the phone call was a surprise to Clayton.

Provided by John Clayton
Bassist John Clayton leads a band of seven up-and-coming jazz musicians, titled The Next Generation, at the JazzSLC series' final show of the season on May 21.

“Look, I go back a lot of years with the series, and Gordon is a pleasure to work with, but to have a promoter like him call up and say, _‘_Do whatever you want to do. I trust you,’ it’s just mind-boggling, and it just doesn’t happen in the real world,” Clayton said.

With a full year of advance notice and a blank slate, Clayton began to muse over what the concert might look like. As a young musician trying to make it in the world of jazz, Clayton met renowned jazz bassist Ray Brown. It was Brown's generosity that made Clayton think about the young jazz musicians coming up. That became the impetus for this concert.

“The first jazz record I ever heard was Ray Brown and Oscar Peterson, and that made me decide I really wanted to play the bass,” Clayton recalled. “As it turned out, I ended up taking a workshop in jazz bass from Ray Brown and he actually let me shadow him around. I was just a young kid and he was giving me a big opportunity. It was sort of understood you pass it on to the next generation.”

It’s a lesson Clayton hasn't forgotten. The concert is actually a two-day event beginning with a screening of ‘Keep On Keepin' On,’ a documentary featuring the legendary trumpet player Clark Terry and his mentorship of 23-year-old blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin. Four years in the making, the award-winning film documents the friendship of these two great musicians, tackling the toughest challenges of their interwoven lives. It captures their love of music that inspired the friendship of a lifetime.

Following the screening there will be a panel discussion with Kauflin and the film's cinematographer, Adam Hart.

The main event, a concert with an all-star band named The Next Generation, will feature Kauflin; jazz vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and the Thelonious Monk 2015 Jazz Vocal Competition; Japan-based keys player Akiko Tsuruga on B3 Hammond organ; 2015 Cole Porter Fellowship in jazz winner Sullivan Fortner on piano; Australian multi-instrumentalist Adrian Cunningham; trumpeter Dominick Fairnacci; and guitarist/composer/arranger Graham Dechter, who has been part of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra since he was 19.

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“I honestly think this is going to one of the most exciting and memorable concerts in the history of JazzSLC,” Hanks said. “Getting all of these young players on the stage at the same time is really a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

If you go …

What: The John Clayton Jazz Show presents The Next Generation

When: Monday, May 21, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South

How much: $29.50 for adults, $10 for students with ID

Phone: 801-355-2787

Web: artsaltlake.org

Also: Screening of “Keep On Keepin’ On;” Sunday, May 20, at 6 p.m., Post Theater on the University of Utah campus; tickets are free, but reservations are required by contacting Amanda Lufkin at 801-550-9052 or [email protected]