LIVE: Jazz in the Valley @ Waryas Park, 8/21/16
The Jazz in the Valley festival was held in Poughkeepsie’s Waryas Park last month, celebrating the fifth year in this scenic location with the usual celebration of the music known as jazz featuring a wide variety of performers in the genre.
The festival opened up with Charenée Wade and her band celebrating the music of the late great Gil Scott Heron. Wade’s interpretation of Heron’s potent lyrics which are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them in the late ’70s and ’80s. The performance was accented by the performance of her brilliant band, in particular Lakecia Benjamin on alto saxophone.
Jazz by Five, a one-off quintet of jazz all stars blazed through a set of jazz standards. Led by saxman (and the fest’s musical director) Javon Jackson, the A-list ensemble also featured trumpeter Randy Brecker, bassist Eddie Gomez, pianist George Cables and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Now that’s a bona fide supergroup…
The legendary pianist Randy Weston led his unconventional trio through a set of African-influenced music. The sights and sounds of the rhythm section – Neil Clarke on percussion and Alex Blake on bass – fascinated the crowd. Blake played the acoustic bass with a unique percussive technique.
The festival closed with the irresistible Afro Cuban sounds of Chico Alvarez & the Palomonte Afro Cuban Big Band, who brought much of the crowd to its feet, dancing in the area in the front of the stage of the big tent.
A fine way to spend a summer’s day listening to the sounds of jazz reverberate through the Hudson Valley with the river in the background.