Tribute to Nina Simone set to take place at TFAC on Sunday

Published 10:43 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023

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Performance first in ‘Mountain to the Sea Jazz Series’


TRYON—A Tribute to Nina Simone with the Jason DeCristofaro Ensemble, the first concert of a three-part jazz series, will be taking place at the Tryon Fine Arts Center on Sunday, October 22. 

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Songwriter, pianist, vocalist and activist Nina Simone was one of the most significant musical artists of the 20th century, creating music for the Civil Rights Movement that spanned a wide variety of genres ranging from jazz and blues to classical to gospel. 

The ensemble performing “A Tribute to Nina Simone” will be led by Jason DeCristofaro on drums, and will feature two Asheville-based powerhouses on vocals, Reggie Headen and Kelle Jolly. Rounding out the ensemble is Derrick Gardner on piano and Connor Law on bass.

DeCristofaro, a music scholar and composer, is a community-focused musical entrepreneur and busy professor with duties at AB Tech, Warren Wilson College and East Tennessee State University. He consistently performs throughout the Southeast, including such venues as the Brevard Music Center, Furman University, Johnson City Jazz Festival and the Carl Sandburg Festival, among many others. His published compositions have been performed in New Zealand, China, Sweden and across the United States. He has served as a guest composer with the Symphony of the Mountains, the Asheville Ballet and the Asheville Jazz Orchestra and is also the founder and artistic director of Asheville Composer Concerts.

The ‘Mountain to the Sea Jazz Series’ at TFAC will continue in the spring of 2024, with the Asheville Jazz Collective performing on April 14, 2024, and educator Quentin Baxter and poet Marcus Amaker performing on May 19, 2024. These all-ages, matinee shows, presented by the Kirby Innovative Fund at Polk County Community Foundation, are an opportunity to bring the whole family out and see a professional production with an amazing cast of world-class jazz musicians in an incredible-sounding theater. 

Showtime is at 4 p.m. and ticket prices are $22. For more information, visit


Submitted by Sam Katz