Posts Tagged ‘Albany Riverfront Jazz Fest’

LIVE: Albany Riverfront Jazz Fest @ Corning Preserve Boat Launch, 9/12/15

Monday, October 5th, 2015
Booker T. Jones

Booker T. Jones

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Ed Conway, Stanley Johnson, Andrzej Pilarczyk

Last year the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival hosted five acts – two local and three national. Last month at the 14th annual fest at the Corning Preserve Boat Launch Parking Lot, the numbers were flipped the other way around. And Those Jazz Purists amongst us complained that neither of the out-of-town acts really played jazz. But headliner Booker T. Jones – whose ’60s band Booker T. & the MGs actually invented the simmering southern soul sound of Stax Records – proved them wrong.

Backed by a solid quartet that included his son Ted Jones on second guitar, Jones and his Hammond B3 organ melded soul and jazz into a sizzling, savory stew, roaring into a 75-minute show with the MGs’ “Pigmy.” More than half of his set was culled from the instrumental hits of that classic band, including the soul-strutting “Hip Hug-Her” (updated with a serious mid-song rap by drummer Darian Gray), the sweeping spaghetti western theme “Hang ‘Em High” (with an all-aces solo by Jones the younger) and “Soul Limbo” (fueled by a cowbell-driven drum solo from Gray). Jones lost a bit of momentum mid-show when he switched to guitar for tributes to Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters and Otis Redding, but he recovered with the MGs’ biggest hit, the timeless “Green Onions.” And they saved the best for last – a towering rendition of “Time Is Tight.”

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LIVE: Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival @ Jennings Landing, 9/7/13

Monday, September 16th, 2013
Charlie Hunter (photo by Richard Brody)

Charlie Hunter (photo by Richard Brody)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Richard Brody and Cheri Bordelon

It’s taken a few years, but nowadays I’ll cop to the fact that I’m a pretty negative person. The glass is always half empty, and the weather is “mostly cloudy”, not “partly sunny.” So I had a lot of worries going into the 12th annual Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival – not about the bill (which was as solid as ever, despite having only two national acts), but about external factors. Forget that there were two decent-sized music festivals happening at the same time as Riverfront: Rest Fest in Troy and the New Music Festival at Empire State Plaza. Was Riverfront going to suffer repercussions from last year’s (albeit necessary) weather-related mid-fest shutdown?

As usual, I should have taken an extra chill pill before heading down to Corning Preserve. It was just like old times, as the early-comers coated themselves with sunblock at the top of the amphitheater more than a half-hour before the first act hit the stage; the crowd was growing nicely by the time Sensemaya was mid-way through their super-sweet set, and both grassy knolls flanking the space were filling up with lawn chairs and blankets. People were bopping and swaying and ready to get stuck in for a good time, and not even the steady drizzle that came down later in the day could dampen their spirits. People just popped their umbrellas or snapped up their hoods and said, “Bring it on! This year, we’re here to stay!”

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