LIVE: Jazz in the Valley @ Waryas Park, 8/20/17
Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
Celebrating its sixth year at Poughkeepsie’s Waryas Park, the 2017 Jazz in the Valley festival commemorated the centennial of the birth of the great conguero Mongo Santamaria with a full day of music that featured plenty of percussion and Latin dance rhythms.
The main stage opened with the Jeff Siegel Sextet playing mostly selections from their latest CD, King of Xhosa. This band is composed of musicians that are a regular part of the Greater Nippertown jazz scene, including Francesca Tanksley, Erica Lindsey and Dylan Canterbury.
Cuban-born pianist Elio Villafranca brought his Jass Syncopators project to the stage with Dion Parson on drums and Miguelita Valdes on percussion.
Bassist Christopher Dean Sullivan led a quartet, the only band for the afternoon that featured vocals. Mala Waldron did double duty as pianist as well as vocalist with Steve Nelson on vibes and Bobby Sanabria on percussion.
An all-star quintet fronted by trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and saxman Javon Jackson took to the stage and played standards with gusto. marsalis was frequently clapping along with the beat and egging on the fellow members of the band. Cyrus Chestnut’s fingers danced deftly along the keyboard of the piano with the legendary Jimmy Cobb on drums and David Williams on bass.
The festival closer was Chief Babb Neil Clarke’s Santamaria Centennial Project. We got an education on Mongo’s music, but the music was far from dry and dull. His band – complete with a kick-ass horn section and vibraphonist Bryan Carrott – had the crowd on its feet and dancing throughout most of the set.
What will 2018 bring? Can’t wait…
You can also see more of Rudy Lu’s photos of the Santamaria Centennial Project, Swing Unlimited, Christopher Dean Sullivan Ensemble, Elio Villafranca & the Jass Syncopators and the Jeff Siegel Sextet…