LIVE: Schenectady JAM Concert @ Proctors’ Robb Alley, 4/14/13

April 29th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg
Schenectady Mayor McCarthy and Tim Coakley

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy and Tim Coakley

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
A JazzApril story

The Annual Schenectady JAM (Jazz Appreciation Month) concert was held this year at Robb Alley at Proctors with the theme of celebrating a hard-woking, multi-talented local jazz hero. This year’s hero is longtime drummer and WAMC-FM jazz radio host Tim Coakley. Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy presented a proclamation naming April 15 as Tim Coakley Day honoring him for all of his many contributions to the Local 518 jazz scene.

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LIVE: “A Celebration of the Saxophone in Jazz” @ Proctors’ Robb Alley, 4/15/12

May 10th, 2012, 4:00 pm by Greg
Leo Russo

Lee Russo

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

It’s not that other instruments don’t play jazz, but it is the saxophone that almost single-handedly typifies jazz music to the public at large.

This time out the Schenectady Musical Union in partnership with the Schenectady County Initiative Program presented the sixth annual Jazz Appreciation Month concert, “A Celebration of the Saxophone in Jazz,” on a quiet Sunday afternoon at Proctors’ Robb Alley.

Featuring some of the very best and most talented regional saxophonists (and their groups), the event drew more then 300 people during its four-hour run from 3-7pm.

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LIVE: Keith Pray @ the Van Dyck, 3/31/12

April 4th, 2012, 4:00 pm by Greg
Keith Pray @ The Van Dyck, 3/31/12 (photo by Rudy Lu)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

All the music on Keith Pray’s new disc “Confluence” was played by a “quartet plus one,” a concept Pray got from the jazz icon Joe Henderson. At the Van Dyck, though, it was just a quartet that took the stage in front of a literally packed house; it seems the “plus one” – guitarist Chuck D’Aloia – moved to Los Angeles in December. Mind you, nature abhors a vacuum, so between the four excellent musicians (plus one surprise guest star), the gap left by D’Aloia’s absence was filled in less-than-nothing flat.

As Pray kicked off the first set with the title track from the disc, it struck me that this swinging thing warming the stage so nicely was actually created as an afterthought: Late in the creation of the disc, Pray realized he didn’t have “a high energy and up-tempo swinging tune” in his arsenal, so he wrote this piece. Never mind that there are other places on “Confluence” that swing like Spiderman on a bender, but that’s an argument for another day. All that mattered here was that Pray was already blowing his head off while pianist Peter Tomlinson, bassist Lou Pappas and drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel bubbled and sparked underneath him… and this was only the first tune!

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A Few Minutes With… Keith Pray

March 28th, 2012, 2:00 pm by Greg
Recording engineer Scott Petitto and Keith Pray

Recording engineer Scott Petitto and Keith Pray

Interview and story by J Hunter

For me, Keith Pray is at his best when he’s having fun – when he’s got the pedal to the metal on some blues-soaked burner that’s got the house up and screaming, or pouring his heart through his alto sax onto a glistening ballad that everybody’s hearing but is meant for only one person. That’s why – even though Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble disc “Live at the Lark Tavern” is an awesome achievement on many levels – my favorite Keith Pray release has been the B-3 party disc “One Last Stop”…

Until now.

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LIVE: The Joe Lovano & John Scofield Quartet @ The Egg, 1/30/11

February 4th, 2011, 3:00 pm by Greg
John Scofield and Joe Lovano

John Scofield and Joe Lovano

It has been said time and time again that jazz should be rooted in the blues, have the feeling of swing and the element of improvisation. If that is the case, then the Joe Lovano & John Scofield Quartet should be the textbook version of what jazz is.

For their concert last Sunday evening, The Egg’s Swyer Theatre was filled with an enthusiastic, appreciative crowd that was touched by the music of this wonderful group. It is this connection with the audience that separates this group from many of even the best known of players. In today’s jazz world, many musicians have leaned toward the growing trend of intellectualism over emotion or storytelling. But these musicians showed how the soul could be exposed even through intellectual music.

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“A Night at Tess’ Lark Tavern” Benefit @ The Linda, 6/10/10

May 18th, 2010, 12:01 pm by Greg

Keith Pray leading his ensemble at Tess' Lark Tavern

Keith Pray leading his ensemble at Tess' Lark Tavern (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

The Tess’ Lark Tavern regular performers will gather together to present “A Night at Tess’ Lark Tavern: A Benefit Celebration featuring the House Bands of the Lark Tavern” at The Linda in Albany at 7pm on Thursday, June 10.

Performing will be Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys, Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble, MotherJudge & the Best Damn Open Mic EVER! Band, Ramblin Jug Stompers, Albany Poets’ Poets Speak Loud and special guest Bryan Thomas. These are the performers who have graced the stage at the Lark on a regular weekly or monthly basis for years – performers who have literally taken up residency at Tess’.

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LIVE: Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble @ Bill McCann’s 25th Anniversary Jazz Fest at UAlbany, 4/17/10

April 19th, 2010, 3:50 pm by Greg

No, unfortunately, we weren’t able to swing by – and we do mean swing – UAlbany’s Campus Center Assembly Hall on Saturday to catch any of the all-day jazz celebration in honor of DJ Bill McCann’s 25th anniversary at the campus radio station, WCDB-FM.

But saxman Brian Patneaude was kind enough to let us know about this video from the bash. It’s Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble blowing through Yuko Kishimoto’s “Elements.” The song also kicks off BSE’s CD, “Live at the Lark Tavern.”

Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble Takes Big Band Music Into the 21st Century

January 29th, 2010, 11:13 am by Greg

Keith Pray leading his ensemble at Tess' Lark Tavern

Keith Pray leading his ensemble at Tess' Lark Tavern

Walk into Tess’ Lark Tavern in Albany on the first Tuesday of any month, and you’ll witness one of Nippertown’s most amazing musical phenomenons. Seventeen of the region’s best jazz musicians – that’s right, 17 – spilling off the small stage into the audience and playing their hearts out on fresh, challenging big-band music composed by some of the most gifted area composers.

Tess’ has been home base for Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble for more than three years, and now bandleader, alto saxman and chief composer Keith Pray is releasing the big band’s debut album, “Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble Live at the Lark Tavern” on his own indie label, Praynation Records.

The album is jam-packed with nine original tunes, each brimming over with crackling musical interplay, catchy riffs and passionate solos. On Sunday (January 31), the Big Soul Ensemble will celebrate the album’s release with two shows at – where else? – Tess’ Lark Tavern. Showtimes are 4 and 5:45pm, and admission is just $5 per show.

Keith Pray sat down earlier this week to tell us a little about BSE’s origins, the recording project and the band’s direction.

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Holly & EvanCaffe LenaJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysCartoonist John CaldwellThe Cock'N'Bull RestaurantAdvertise on Nippertown!Berkshire On StageRamblin Jug Stompers