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All are welcome to attend a musical performance by The Brian Torff Group, which relates to the current Library exhibit "Seize the Beat: Music and Race in the Deep South"

Thursday, February 22, 2024, 7pm, Library multimedia room 101



Brian Torff- guitar, vocals, bass, harmonica-

A musical career takes many surprise turns. After a career as a jazz bassist and composer that began in the mid 1970s,  Brian Torff now creates music as a songwriter, guitarist and vocalist. He has played with Frank Sinatra, George Shearing, Mary Lou Williams, Erroll Garner, Stephane Grappelli, and Marian McPartland among others. Torff now focuses on acoustic guitar, harmonica, loop pedal, and his upright stick bass to create a different sound. As a Professor of Music at Fairfield University since 1993, his research trips to the deep South have impacted the lyrical stories.

Brian Torff has written a jazz memoir, In Love With Voices, and his most recent book, Seize the Beat: The Evolution of American Music is used in his classes on American popular music. Torff explains, “I love working with words, so songwriting was a logical next step.” Drawing on his experience in jazz, blues, and rock, combined with a county-folk influence, Brian Torff feels that “we need to create new musical categories.”

His band, with Wes Lewis, tenor saxophone, and Ryan Sands, drums, plans to film YouTube music videos this year, “I hope that our music,” says Torff, “is a soundtrack to an American road trip, past and present.”

Ryan Sands, drums-

Ryan has performed domestically and internationally in Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Prague, London, Shanghai, and Italy to name a few. He’s has worked with Geoffrey Keezer, Wayne Escoffrey, Tamir Hendleman, Terell Stafford, Jimmy Bruno, and Phil Markowitz. Ryan serves as a rotating member of the critically acclaimed Christian Sands Trio for the past 7 years. He’s also a part of the New York based music collective, Altus, where he serves as the primary drummer. Ryan attended New England Conservatory and graduated with BA in Jazz Performance. For graduate school Ryan attended Manhattan School of Music and graduated with a Master’s in Jazz Arts.

Ryan Sands is a proud endorser of Canopus Drums and Paiste Cymbals.

Wes Lewis, tenor and soprano saxophone-

Wes Lewis is a PhD candidate in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at Yale and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s 2023-2024 Artist Corps grant. He is the principle saxophonist of the Yale Jazz Ensemble, and actively performs with several groups including his own quartet and the collective Trance Macabre. Wes grew up in Buffalo NY and attended the University of Rochester for his undergraduate degree. Since moving to New Haven in 2019, Wes has performed Mingus’ “Epitaph" alongside the Mingus Big Band, as well as with local greats including Jessie (“Cheese”) Hameen II. He has also studied with multiple Grammy award winning musicians, including Wayne Escoffery and Abraham Burton. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024
7:00pm - 8:30pm
Room 101 - Library Auditorium

Event Organizer

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Lisa Thornell