LIVE: The Afro Cuban Jazz Saxtet @ the Madison Theater, 5/14/16

May 31st, 2016, 4:00 pm by Greg
The Afro Cuban Jazz Saxtet

The Afro Cuban Jazz Saxtet

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

The 2016 Jazz Concert Series at Albany’s Madison Theater wrapped up with the recent performance of curator Onel Mulet’s Afro Cuban Jazz Saxtet. The unusual instrumentation of the band certainly made for some interesting voicings on the compositions that were played.

The band was comprised of:
* Four saxophone players, Onel Mulet on soprano; Jay Rodriguez on alto; Stanton Kendrick on tenor; and Jason Marshall on baritone
* Three percussionists on small, medium and large batas – Mike Ramsey, Tony DeVivo and Rafael Monteagudo, who doubled on gourd, congas and trap drums respectively.

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LIVE: Earth Day Festival 2016 @ Skidmore College, 4/23/16

May 31st, 2016, 3:00 pm by Greg
The Sun Ra Arkestra

The Sun Ra Arkestra

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

The chance to see the legendary Sun Ra Arkestra… for free? Are you kidding? Where?

Well, that place was South Park Green on the Saratoga Springs campus of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, which was the site of the Earth Day Festival 2016 last month.

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May 31st, 2016, 2:00 pm by Greg
Will Bernard

Will Bernard

By J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

I don’t like “polite jazz” – that is, jazz that is designed to do nothing but “maintain tradition” and act as mildly interesting, historically correct, aural wallpaper. Therefore, it follows that I don’t like musicians who approach the genre as if it was a Faberge egg that will turn to dust if you even look at it funny from across a crowded room; I want jazz musicians with attitude – who kick down the music’s door and announce that they are the trouble we have all been waiting for.

Given those parameters, I like Will Bernard – a lot! The guitar sound he brings to the table is about as far from Wes Montgomery as Albany is from Alpha Centauri. It’s a package of incredible technical prowess wrapped in a mean & dirty noise that can sounds like a Corvette C7R going down the Mulsanne Straight at full chat. The only thing that’s nastier is the unhinged weather that greeted Bernard and his band – keyboardist Brian Charette and drummer Eric Kalb – when they played Parish Public House last year: It rained cats, dogs and aardvarks that night, accompanied by chain lightning and wind that was knocking down trees all over the Capital Region. In the words of the late Robin Williams, “That’s as close as I can explain.”

Although Bernard has been making music for over 25 years with heavy people like Don Cherry, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Charlie Hunter, my first experience with Bernard was on his 2013 Posi-tone release Just Like Downtown. Posi-tone doesn’t do mean ‘n’ nasty as a rule, so Bernard’s overall sound on that date was relatively restrained. That said, there was an undeniable attitude on Bernard’s covers of Led Zep’s “Dancing Days” and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Bali Ha’i” that made my head turn. “Hello,” I said to myself. “I think we’re going to have some fun with you!” The fun continued on Charette’s knockout 2015 Posi-tone disc Alphabet City, and it was at the Public House where Bernard turned me on to his self-released 2012 date Outdoor Living, which had all the blinding electricity Bernard, Charette and Kalb filled the Public House’s back space with while the storm raged outside.

Bernard is back on Posi-tone this year with Out & About, and along with Charette on keyboards, he brought reed wizard John Ellis, bassist Ben Allison and drummer Allison Miller (who just left her own mark on MASS MoCA’s Club B-10 with her own band Boom Tic Boom). That’s a killer combination in anyone’s language. And since 2013, “mean ‘n’ nasty” has definitely been added to Posi-tone’s lexicon, so along with a righteous set of all-original material, you also get plenty of that take-no-prisoners sound Bernard calls his own. Keep your fingers crossed for better weather when Bernard and his “Brooklyn band” return to Parish Public House this Friday night (June 3) – and even if the weather boils up again, put your big-biped pants on get down there if you want to see 21st-century jazz with more than a dash of funk and rock. It’ll make you dance, it’ll make you think, and it’ll make you wish you’d brought ear protection.

Bernard was good enough to take a few minutes and answer some questions about the new disc and some of the musical experiences he’s had along the way:

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THEATER REVIEW: “Presto Change-O” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire On Stage]

May 31st, 2016, 1:00 pm by Greg
Presto Change-O stars (clockwise from bottom) Lenny Wolpe, Barbara Walsh, Michael Rupert, Bob Walton, Jenni Barber and Jarrod Spector.

“Presto Change-O” stars (clockwise from bottom) Lenny Wolpe, Barbara Walsh, Michael Rupert, Bob Walton, Jenni Barber and Jarrod Spector.

Review by Larry Murray

Many of the tools used by magicians are drawn from the theater. Things like lighting, fog, scrims and mirrors are found in both forms of entertainment. Presto Change-O, now having its world premiere performances at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield has plenty of magic onstage, in a series of illusions created by Joseph Wartnerchaney and a cast that has obviously practiced their prestidigitations for hours to become proficient in such sleight of hand tricks as the classic cups and balls.

But Presto Change-O is first and foremost a different sort of musical drama with book and lyrics by Eric Price and music by Joel Waggoner. A company of six actors and five musicians put on a hell of a show that can be enjoyed on a number of levels and across a wide range of ages. The plot is, of course, a bit contrived in order to give everyone a chance to show off their magic tricks, and the songs give each of the actors their own moment in the spotlight. The title song “Presto Change-O” as sung with passion by Barbara Walsh as Mary is perhaps the best of the lot, though the quartets and quintets were also a marvel to see and hear as melody lines were tossed back and forth like a frisbee.

Click here to read the rest at Berkshire On Stage

FREE FEST: Bands Announced for Albany’s Art On Lark

May 31st, 2016, 12:00 pm by Greg


Photograph by Timothy Reidy

Located on Lark Street in the heart of Albany, Art on Lark is the city’s favorite arts-oriented street fair. And on Sunday (June 5) Art On Lark is celebrating its 20th anniversary from 11am-6pm. UPDATE: The 2016 Art On Lark has been postponed to Saturday, July 16…

Art on Lark is the annual summer street festival that celebrates local art and artisans of Greater Nippertown. Lark Street will be shut down to traffic and transformed by more than 50 artists’ pop-up displays including painters, photographers, jewelers, sculptors, ceramicists, live performances and, of course, music.

Here’s the complete schedule of bands that will be performing at the 2016 Art On Lark:

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CANCELLED: Beacon Jazz Festival @ Seeger Riverfront Park

May 31st, 2016, 11:00 am by Greg

Serious bummer…

Last week, the following note was posted on the Facebook page of the Beacon Jazz Festival, a one-day fest which was slated to take place at Seeger Riverfront Park in Beacon on Saturday, June 25 with the Sun Ra Arkestra headlining:

Dear Friends of the Beacon Jazz Festival:

It is with a heavier heart than you can possibly know that we must inform you that, because our main sponsor has pulled out at the last minute, we are forced to CANCEL what would have been this year’s second annual Beacon Jazz Festival on June 25th.

Yes, you read that right — this year’s Beacon Jazz Festival will NOT take place this summer after all.

Although modest by any standards, our budget simply couldn’t take the impact this main sponsor’s pulling out made and we have been unable to secure separate funding in time to proceed with this year’s festival.

On behalf of Six String Productions and everyone behind the scenes who work to make the festival happen, please accept our massive apologies for not being able to hold a second annual Beacon Jazz Festival this year. Watch this space as we strive to make another wonderful jazz event at Seeger Riverfront Park possible soon.

Sorry, one and all. Peace.

The Egg Announces New Concert

May 31st, 2016, 9:30 am by Greg

The Egg announced that Maura O’Connell and Karan Casey will perform at 7:30pm on Friday, August 12. Two of Ireland’s most outstanding and beloved singers will join together to present an exceptional evening of songs and stories. O’Connell and Casey (the original lead singer of Solas) are both known for the depth, beauty and sheer joy in their exploration and interpretation of songs. This collaboration is about the sheer enjoyment of singing and a fresh approach to O’Connell’s and Casey’s now long-established solo careers.

Tickets to the concert are $34 and are currently avaialble exclusively to members of The Egg and will go on sale to the general public at 11am on Wednesday (June 1).

5/31/16: Today’s Top Tips: Tuesday

May 31st, 2016, 7:23 am by Greg

MUSIC: Eagles of Death Metal @ the Upstate Concert Hall, Clifton Park. Led by guitarist-vocalist Jesse Hughes, the California band is best known for their performance at Paris’ Le Bataclan on November 13, 2015, when the audience was attacked by terrorists, leaving 89 dead. 8pm. $28.

READING: “Song of Myself” @ the Robert Burns Statues in Washington Park, Albany. It’s the annual community reading in celebration of poet Walt Whitman’s birthday. Persons interested in reading a section of Whitman’s poem can sign up to read at the event. 6pm. FREE.

THEATER: “Presto Change-O” @ Barrington Stage Company’s St. Germain Stage, Pittsfield. The new musical by Eric Price and Joel Waggoner tells the story of three generations of magicians who find themselves under one roof for the first time in years. When the grandfather causes real magic to happen, they must confront their past mistakes and re-examine what it means to be a family. 7:30pm. Through Saturday, June 11.

OPEN MIC: Open Mic with Cameron & Ryder @ Club Helsinki, Hudson. 6pm sign-up; 7pm show. FREE.

Caffe LenaCartoonist John CaldwellJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysThe Cock'N'Bull RestaurantHolly & EvanAdvertise on Nippertown!Hudson SoundsArtist Charles HaymesLeave Regular Radio BehindThe Sanctuary For Independent Media