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Jazz Arts Initiative gets a hefty grant

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TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
Branden Cook, center, played Seaweed in a 2013 production of “Hairspray” at Butler High School.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has given Charlotte’s Jazz Arts Initiative a $30,000 grant to support The Jazz Room @ The Stage Door Theater. The additional funding means the series will move to Friday nights in July and add a second show each night.

The monthly series often sells out the small theater at Fifth and College streets. It generally consists of one artist paying tribute to a jazz icon: Saxophonist Brian Miller will play the music of Charlie Parker July 25, trumpeter Lynn Grissett will play the music of Lee Morgan Aug. 22, and pianist Ryan Saranich will perform tunes by George Gershwin Sept. 19.

Before that run, Grammy-nominated jazz trumpeter Christian Scott will honor the music of New Orleans. He’ll play shows at 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday. As usual, cabaret seating and a full bar will be available. Tickets are $10. Details: 704-372-1000 or carolinatix.org. To learn more about the group: www.thejazzarts.org.

Big night for Branden Cook

Branden Cook, who graduated from Butler High School in Matthews in 2013, will join the cast of the New York production “Black Stars of the Great White Way Broadway Reunion Concert.” This Carnegie Hall production is a fundraiser for nonprofits and celebrates 100 years of the influence and legacy of black men on Broadway.

Cook, a rising sophomore at Wake Forest University and Presidential Scholar for Theatre at the school, will be onstage with Obba Babatunde, Hinton Battle, Ben Vereen and Norm Lewis (the current Phantom of the Opera). He’ll also serve as principal production assistant to Chapman Roberts, producer-director of the show.

The event begins at 8 p.m. June 23 in Stern Auditorium. Net proceeds benefit a dozen groups, including Dance Theatre of Harlem, N.C. Black Repertory Company and Harlem School of the Arts. Details: facebook.com.

Toppman: 704-358-5232
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