Story by J Hunter
Video by Susan Brink
A JazzApril story
Okay, you know by now (or you ought to know, anyway) that I think EVERY month should be Jazz Appreciation Month! And in Greater Nippertown, that wouldn’t be hard to achieve. Between a local scene that’s extremely vibrant and major concerts by kick-ass artists like the Hot Club of Detroit, SFJAZZ Collective, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Joe Lovano’s Us Five and Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band, we’ve already reaped an abundance of musical riches this year.
But when someone at the Smithsonian Institute threw a dart at the office calendar, it landed on April: In the words the late, great gun nut Charlton Heston, “So let it be written; so let it be done!” Now UNESCO has gotten into the act, too, taking the idea global by promoting concerts all around the world on April 30th, otherwise known as International Jazz Day. Finally, there’s a worldwide conspiracy I can get behind!
And what do we get out of all this intercontinental musical goodness? Get out your Smart Phone, BlackBerry or crayons and start checking off the dates:
Tuesday, April 2, 8pm
Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble @ Van Dyck Restaurant & Lounge, Schenectady
Still the best amalgam of Greater Nippertown jazz artists going today, altoist Pray’s big unit does its monthly thing at the club that’s already given us rip-snorting concerts by Hot Club of Detroit and Michael Benedict & Bopitude… and as you will soon see, my favorite small venue is far from done this month!
Friday, April 5, 8pm
Arturo Sandoval @ Proctors, Schenectady
Another gift from the late Dizzy Gillespie that’s kept on giving, this muscular horn player was well established in Latin jazz by the time he defected from Cuba in 1990. Sandoval blew the doors off Troy Savings Bank in 1996, and I have no doubt he’ll do the same thing to a classic theater that’s become so much more in recent years.
Sunday, April 7, 7:30pm
Al Di Meola & Gonzalo Rubalcaba @ The Egg, Albany
This area’s well familiar with Di Meola after his next-level appearances with the reformed Return to Forever, the one-off super band Rite of Strings, and his own group World Sinfonia. Now Al returns to The Egg with pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, whose double-disc XXI Century was one of my Top 10 Jazz Releases of 2012.
Friday, April 12, 7:30pm
Outer Borough Brass Band @ Proctors’ GE Theatre, Schenectady
The Lower 9th meets the Lower East Side as Proctors’ “Party Horns NYC” series roars back into the GE Theatre. Led by Loyola NOLA alum Joe Scatassa, OBBB’s players come from Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Bonerama, Honey Island Swamp Band and other assorted party monsters. If you liked Dirty Dozen, you’ll LOVE this!
Saturday, April 13, 8pm
Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau @ Mahawie Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington
Okay, okay, this one’s a hybrid show. But hey, with gas hovering near $4 a gallon, hybrids are all the rage! Mehldau’s used his transcendent piano skills to bring Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Nick Drake into the jazz idiom. Now he teams with Punch Brothers mandolinist Chris Thile on a tour that’s already wowed Europe.
Sunday, April 14, 3pm
Schenectady Musical Union J.A.M. Event @ Proctors’ Robb Alley, Schenectady
This annual gig is always a blast. Just two bands this year, but WHAT bands: Keith Pray puts his Soul Jazz Revival up against the trad-jazz sound of wunderkind Dylan Canterbury’s quintet (which features tenorman Brian Patneaude and bassist Lou Smaldone), and there’ll be jam sessions and surprise guests after each set. Mmmm…
Tuesday, April 16, 8pm
Empire Jazz Orchestra featuring Claudio Roditi @ Schenectady County Community College’s Taylor Auditorium, Schenectady
Another annual show that’s always cool, the EJO has performed with stalwarts like Lee Konitz, David “Fathead” Newman and Curtis Fuller. This year’s master is Brazilian trumpeter Claudio Roditi, who is truly a master of the flugelhorn. Matching his full, romantic sound with this righteous outfit will be a sight to see. (PS: EJO vocalist Colleen Pratt – whose first-set mini-shows are always terrific – will bring her own band to the Van Dyck at 7pm on Thursday, April 18… and it’s free!)
Thursday, April 18, 7:30pm
Stefon Harris & 90 Miles @ College of Saint Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts, Albany
90 Miles was both a CD and a 2011 documentary that had saxman David Sanchez playing the music of his native Cuba with vibes master/Albany favorite son Harris and NOLA wunderkind trumpeter Christian Scott. Nicholas Payton takes Scott’s seat as CSR’s Massry Center closes another marvelous season in style!
Friday, April 19, 7:30pm
Van Dyck All-Star Sax Summit @ Van Dyck Restaurant & Lounge, Schenectady
Multi-instrumentalist Lee Russo has been amply filling his father/altoist Leo Russo’s footsteps for many years. Now it’s a family affair, as father and son get together with Brian Patneaude, Keith Pray, keyboardist Dave Payette, bassist Otto Gardner and Lee Shaw Trio drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel for what should be a mammoth evening.
Sunday, April 21, 2pm
Albany Musicians Association Jazz Gala @ Colonie Elks Lodge, Latham
The Albany chapter of AFM serves up their own yummy long-form freebie. Michael Benedict & Bopitude (who’ll be playing with all-world pianist Bruce Barth) anchor the bill, but don’t come late! You’ll miss the uniqueness of Ten 27, the cool Jeanne O’Connor Quartet and some crunchy stuff from the Mike Lamkin Organ Trio.
Like I said: Jazz Appreciation Month in Greater Nippertown? Yeah, we got that… coming AND going! So put the Genie to work and get out of the house. Trust me – it’ll do you good!
Tags: Albany, Colonie Elks Lodge, Great Barrington, J Hunter, Latham, Proctors, SCCC Taylor Auditorium, Schenectady, Susan Brink, The Egg, The Mahawie Performing Arts Center, The Massry Center, The Van Dyck