J.J. Wright is a jazz pianist, but he also loves sacred music. As his resume puts it: “Palestrina and Bach vie with Monk and Cannonball Adderley as just a few of his harmonic and melodic inspirations.” Wright has played for the president as part of the U.S. Naval Academy Band, and he also has performed with the Caribbean Jazz Project, the Afro Bop Alliance. A record he made with vibraphonist Dave Samuels was nominated for a Grammy Award and won a Latin Grammy. Just to make the unusual picture complete, he is director of music at Sacred Heart Parish, the crypt church underneath the University of Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
Wright and his trio – Nate Wood on drums and Ike Sturm on bass – are touring in support of their new CD on the Ropeadope label, “Inward Looking Outward.” It has spiritual inspirations, but the listener is free simply to enjoy this bright, bluesy, rhythmically lively music. There are upbeat adventures driven by the drums and also a ballad or two in which Wright takes the lead with his simple, lyrical sound.
At 7 p.m. Monday, Wright plays Iris at the Maple Entertainment Complex (4224 Maple Road, Amherst). Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 the day of the show. Call 831-3271.
– Mary Kunz Goldman