LIVE: “A Celebration of the Saxophone in Jazz” @ Proctors’ Robb Alley, 4/15/12

Leo Russo
Lee Russo

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

It’s not that other instruments don’t play jazz, but it is the saxophone that almost single-handedly typifies jazz music to the public at large.

This time out the Schenectady Musical Union in partnership with the Schenectady County Initiative Program presented the sixth annual Jazz Appreciation Month concert, “A Celebration of the Saxophone in Jazz,” on a quiet Sunday afternoon at Proctors’ Robb Alley.

Featuring some of the very best and most talented regional saxophonists (and their groups), the event drew more then 300 people during its four-hour run from 3-7pm.

Up first on the Proctors’ ticket booth side stage was Brian Patneaude’s fine tribute to the late Michael Brecker. Patneaude – a monster saxophonist and the founder of – delivered a spirited set accompanied by pianist Rob Lindquist, bassist Mike Lawrence and drummer Dave Berger.

Following suit on the State Street stage was uber-saxophonist Keith Pray and his brand new ensemble delivering “Songs From Home.” Having just released a splendid quintet CD session, “Confluence,” the new line up is an acute musical departure from more traditional jazz waters with, among others, the exquisite Monica Wilson-Roach (former Julliard teacher, Bob Warren Band, etc.) holding down the cello chair.

Yes, cello – and that’s not all.

Ed Tourge wonderfully played the double bass, and Bobby Halek owned the drums, while Jim Wilson strummed the electric guitar, and Scott Bassinson played the keyboards. All along, Pray laid down some lyrical and passionate solos on a tremendous set inspired by Pray’s numerous conversations with legendary pianist Lee Shaw.

On the opposite stage, the Adirondack Sax Quartet Plus Two tuned up and delivered a tight set of standards with saxophonists Brett Wrey, Linden Gregory, James Corigliano and Nat Fossner trading fabulous solos with the rhythm accompaniment of Mike Lawrence on upright bass and Mark Foster on the drums.

Ending the day’s events the Lee Russo Quintet launched a tribute to Hank Mobley. Sharing the limelight with Russo and bringing to mind the brief collaborations of Mobley and Miles Davis, the phenomenal trumpeter Dylan Canterbury took no prisoners for much of the set. In tow were the seasoned and explosive rhythm section of bassist Lou Smaldone and drummer Joe Barna. Rob Lindquist filled in on the keys for absent pianist Dave Gleason.

The crowd may have thinned out a bit by the latter part of Russo’s set because of the lateness of the hour, but for those that stayed they witnessed a passionate and explosive jam session that followed. Inviting Lee’s dad, the legendary regional tenor giant Leo Russo, Patneaude and Prey on the stage, the ensemble, for all concerned, was energized for the greater soloing heights that followed.

More of Andrzej Pilarczyk’s photographs at Albany Jazz
Rudy Lu’s photographs at Albany Jazz

(left) Adirondack Sax Quartet and (right) Monica Roach and Ed Torgue
(left) Adirondack Sax Quartet and (right) Monica Wilson-Roach and Ed Tourge
Ed Torgue and Bobby Haliek
Ed Tourge and Bobby Halek
Dylan Canterbury and Lou Smaldone
Dylan Canterbury and Lou Smaldone

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