LIVE: The Lake George Jazz Weekend, 9/19-20/09
The Lake George Arts Project launched its 26th Jazz At the Lake Festival, better known as the Lake George Jazz Weekend, on Saturday, September 19. Old friends greeted each other and found places to sit down in the Shepard Park amphitheater looking down the hill to the bandstand and the lake.
In the picturesque warmth of the day, veteran jazz pianist Bill Mays and his Inventions Trio presented a sparkling set of chamber jazz. Accompanied by famed trumpeter Marvin Stamm and newcomer cellist Alisha Horn, Mays’ mix of classical and jazz themes drew appreciative applause.
Dizzy Gillespie’s longtime musical collaborator Ignacio Berroa directed his quartet from behind the drum kit. Intensely driven Afro-Cuban beats and rhythms danced around the park as kids played on jungle-gyms and boats bobbed on the water behind the stage.
Saturday’s line-up concluded with the incomparable vocal styling of Giacomo Gates and his group. Old modern jazz standards like “In Walked Bud” were re-invented by Gates – complete with Eddie Jefferson-like scatting and Jon Hendricks-inspired vocalese. There was even a melodic trombone solo from the hornless band.
After preliminary reminders about the dire need for funding in order to carry on with the festival, Artistic Director Paul Pines and Executive Director John Strong introduced the second day of the Jazz Weekend on Sunday with the powerful percussive Latin rhythms of veteran drummer-composer Roland Vasquez and young conga phenom Samuel Torres. The piano chair was occupied by Ravi Coltrane’s primary pianist Luis Perdomo.
World renowned trombonist Steve Turre and his quintet delivered a blistering set with Berrora staying over for a second day to take his place behind the drums. Legendary bassist Buster Williams, experienced pianist Xavier Davis and tough Texas tenor Billy Harper completed the stellar line-up.
And finally, pianist-composer Diane Moser led her acclaimed New Jersey-based 17-piece Composers Big Band in a spirited set of big-band originals concluding the Lake George Jazz Weekend in fine fashion.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk