JAZZ 2K: Coming Attractions

Story by J Hunter

This year marks the 13th anniversary of the Smithsonian Institution naming April as Jazz Appreciation Month – and, as usual, there will be concerts and celebrations aplenty, all culminating in International Jazz Day on Thursday, April 30. The thing is, though, somebody forgot to tell the concert venues around Greater Nippertown because February ALREADY seems like Jazz Appreciation Month!

I mean, think about it: We’ve already seen the Charlie Hunter Trio burn up the Parish Public House, while Cyrille Aimee enchanted concert-goers at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre last weekend.

And a quick look at the calendar shows that this coming week contains a series of amazing jazz shows that definitely needs to be experienced – not only because of the quality of the musicians on offer, but because this music fights the cold better than any blanket you can buy:

Monday, February 23, 5pm
Union College’s Taylor Music Center, Schenectady
While this show may be the “official” drop party for pianist/Union faculty member Tim Olsen’s Planet Arts debut Creature of Habit, this devilish collection of hard-bopping goodness has already had one heck of a launch, breaking into the JazzWeek Top 100 late last week. And with a cast that includes trumpeter Dylan Canterbury, saxman Eric Walentowicz, bassist Lou Smaldone and drummers Pete Sweeney and Rick Rosoff, that means the Capital Region jazz scene is representing worldwide – as well it should.

Tuesday, February 24, 7pm
Sanctuary for Independent Media, Troy
Sanctuary continues to be a great alternate venue for jazz, as drummer/NYC transplant Joe Barna comes home with the latest iteration of his group Sketches of Influence. New York heavies have always been an integral part of Sketches, and this show is no exception, as Barna will take the stage with saxman Stacy Dillard, pianist Victor Gould and bassist Ryan Berg. With a NYC club debut on the horizon, you know Barna and his band will be ready to come strong!

Wednesday, February 25, 7pm
Albany Public Library, Albany
“I can think of few novels that are as explicitly musical as Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man,’” said Arch Stanton Quartet guitarist Roger Noyes. In that light, Noyes will pair a program of three original compositions with readings from Ellison’s groundbreaking novel, which Noyes says used jazz “as a linguistic tool (and) as a metaphor for the American democratic ideal.” Backing Noyes’ effort will be trumpeter Terry Gordon, drummer James Ketterer and bassist Tony Berman. Isn’t it time you went to the library?

Friday, February 27, 7:30pm
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy
The first night of what we hope will be a great new tradition blasts off the launch pad, as reed wizard Anat Cohen returns to the area with music (some either composed or inspired by Milton Nasciemento) from her incredible new Anzic release Luminosa. As if Cohen’s celebrated clarinet won’t make the Music Hall’s legendary acoustics work hard enough, the Marcus Roberts Trio will also perform, sharing the kind of technical brilliance Wynton Marsalis’ former pianist has been bringing for decades. And Local 518’s Elizabeth Woodbury-Kasius & Heard will open the fest.

Saturday, February 28, 6pm
College of Saint Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts, Albany
Wynton’s hand can also be seen in the second half of the Bridge, as acclaimed vocalist/Marsalis protégé Cecile McLorin Savant brings her blinding combination of youthful energy and aged-in-oak vocal style to the Massry’s Picotte Recital Hall. On most nights, this would be more than enough to break out of the house, but Savant shares the bill with always-exploring pianist Fred Hersch’s trio, as well as the riveting duo of vocalist (and Hudson valley resident) Gretchen Parlato and composer/bassist/vocalist Alan Hampton. It starts early, so plan ahead!

Sunday, March 1, 8pm
Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center, Saratoga Springs
Between the falling temperatures and the rising snowdrifts, it’s hard to believe summer is only a few months away. For the better part of four decades, summer in Greater Nippertown has included the Skidmore Jazz Institute, and Grammy-winning bassist & SJI director Todd Coolman lets us sit in on his “faculty meeting” with trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, tenorman Jimmy Greene, trombonist James Burton III, pianist Bill Cunliffe and drummer Dennis Mackrel. Can’t you feel the ice melting?

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