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"Speaking of Music" Series
Live Music Performance Combined with a Featured Speaker or a  Moderated Speaker Panel


"Speaking of Music" Series presents a live music performance combined with a moderated speaking panel or featured speaker with artists connected to the music business both behind the scenes and front of stage,

Watch highlights of a The Westport Library "Speaking of Music" event featuring author Michael Friedman and Producer Roger Kaufman at a book launch of “Exposed: The Lost Negatives and Untold Stories of Michael Friedman.  

Covering rock music icons of the 1960's and 1070s.

At The Westport Library: "Speaking of Music": Jazz: What It Is! event. The jazz Pperformers included The Brian Torff Group, the Jones Factor Lite, The Tim DeHuff Quartet, and vocalist Audrey Martells. Joining the performers were a distinguished panel of experts that includes jazz author and critic Bill Milkowski; jazz saxophonist Rabbi Greg Wall; bassist Dave Anderson; and bassist, author, and music educator BrianTorff. Kaufman moderated the discussion. The panel provided insights into the fluidity of jazz's definition and also share their unique insights into the evolution of jazz. 

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The "Speaking of Music" Series offers compelling, live musical performance events, combined with carefully selected speaker panels or a featured speaker. This unique combination offers great live entertainment with  discussion, narration, dialogue, and/or Q & A that informs, stimulates, educates, and entertains via the rich and storied history of historic American music. The music of America speaks for itself via blues, folk, ragtime, rock and roll, R&B, soul, swing and jazz.


Generally, a 30 to 45-minute live musical performance is followed by a discussion segment focusing on that evening's topic or genre. It may be a celebrated featured guest speaker/narrator or a carefully selected and moderated speaker panel of 2-4 notable participants.


This unique combination of a compelling live musical performance followed by “topic related specialists”  delivers a most unique and memorable evening. 


Here are several of our previously produced events:  

JAZZ: “What It Is…” A moderated speaker panelfollowed by a performance of three or more guest jazz ensembles. The event featurins a variety of jazz players, luminaries, authors, critics, radio personalities and/or historians. Performers and speakers have included The Brian Torff Quartet, Author Bill Milkowski, The Jazz Rabbi Greg Wall, TheTim DeHuff Quartet, Bassist Dave Anderson, John Fumasoli's Jones Factor Liteband, etc. A wide variety of jazz styles, including traditional jazz, swing, bebop, modern, soul-jazz, jazz/rock contemporary, and avant-garde among others are discussed and demonstrated. Event fees vary widely, based on tour dates, choice of talent, ensembles and venue choices.


The "Ragtime Roots of Jazz & Swing  takes a deep dive into the vintage roots of jazz & swing offering an authentic Vaudeville Variety Show featuring: ragtime piano wiz Jeff Barnhart, Blind Boy Jerron Paxton, Young Rag-Boy Piotr Barcz. Ms. Maybelle & the Jazz Artistes with Lauren Sansaricq, Charlie Judkins, and Brian Nalepka .


“Duke Ellington: The Genius” A 125th birthday Celebration Retrospective. This event features the Author of "Beyond Category: The life and genius of Duke Ellington. WSJ columnist, ethnomusicologist, Smithsonian Curator Emeritus, author, and professor John E. Hasse gives a 45-minute retrospective powerpoint presentation. He deftly shares his insight, research observations, videos, photographs, and accolades surrounding the music, impact, legacy and influences of Duke Ellington, this includes a Q&A opportunity, and is immediately followed by a 60-minute live musical performance of the music of Sir Duke featuring the High Standards Orchestra.

“Ray Charles: The Genius” Featured author, WSJ columnist, ethnomusicologist, and Smithsonian Curator Emeritus Professor John Hasse shares a 45-minute presentation of insight, research observations, videos, photographs, and accolades surrounding the music, impact, legacy, and influences of Ray Charles, with Q&A. Immediately following is a 60-minute live musical performance featuring the voice of Brent Carter (Average White Band, Tower of Power) in the Ray Charles role, with Graham Hawthorne’s 8-piece High Standards Orchestra.

Frank Sinatra: The Chairman of the Board. We moderate a 45-minute speaker panel with discussion by various Sinatra authorities; writers, journalists, music critics, singers, instrumentalists, etc. followed by a 60-minute live performance of Sinatra music featuring New York’s Drummer Collective president, vocalist/crooner Jim Mola with Graham Hawthorne's 8-piece, tuxedoed High Standards Orchestra utilizing the original arrangements of Tommy Dorsey, Neil Hefti, Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, Don Costa, and others.  


Road Trip:"The 5M’s" Motown, Memphis, Muscle Shoals, Macon & Miami. An American cross-country journey to the roots of Soul recognizing, performing, and celebrating the influence and importance of our African American musical roots then and now. Options: only narrated live music - or - a 45-minute moderated speaker panel with a break then a 60-minute live show". Performance by The Old School Revue Featuring outstanding nationally known and local guest vocalists, Audrey Martells, Vaneese Thomas, Stephanie Harrison, Dennis Collins, Tom Bowes, Ada Dyer, Christine Tambakis, Drew Angus, Billy Genuario and many others.


“Women of Soul” A 30-minute presentation of a moderated speaking panel followed by live performances from panelists/others, featuring Memphis royalty vocalist Vaneese Thomas (Rufus’ daughter, Carla’s sister) who revisits the voices of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Laverne Baker, Etta James, Koko Taylor, Nina Simone, Aretha and others. 


“The Divine Duets” Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway. Recognizing and celebrating our African American musical roots, influence, and importance via great duet teams like Brook Benton & Dinah Washington, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrel and Kim Weston.  This event features nationally known vocalists, Vaneese Thomas (Aretha, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson), Dennis Collins (Roberta Flack, Keb Mo, David Bowie), and Ada Dyer (Chaka Kahn, Lenny Kravitz, Bo Skaggs).


Michael Friedman:“Exposed”. This event covers photographer and music producer Friedman's book, Exposed : The Lost Negatives of Michael Friedman in a moderated “Music Industry Trio” speaker panel offering a 45-minute conversation with Michael, surrounding the stories of the lost photographic negatives taken in the late 1960's of music business celebrities, along with display of the prints. Then as an option, it would be followed by a 45 to 60-minute live musical performance covering the music of The Band, Janis Joplin, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge, etc. performed by the Old School Revue featuring former Dylan drummer Chris Parker, and former Rundgren, Dylan, and Croce bassist Stu Woods with standout local guest vocalists Stephanie Harrison, Lee Anne Lovelace, Butch Taylor, Drew Angus, etc. Also offered is a meet-and-greet book signing after the show.

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