Flights of Fantasy Books & Games store in Colonie – Nippertown’s most unlikely and unusual jazz venue – played host to the “Clash of the Titans” concert last weekend. The A-list tenor saxophone tandem of Ralph Lalama and Jerry Weldon led a trumpet-less front end backed by a stellar Local 518 trio featuring Joe Barna on drums, Otto Gardner on bass and Dave Solazzo on keyboards.
Like many of his Nippertown compatriots, drummer-composer Joe Barna is not content to rest on his laurels.
Barna recently returned from a cruise ship gig, playing in a jazz band on a three-month tour at sea. While cruising, Barna didn’t just play the gig and retire to his cabin each night. He sat down and composed new material for his quintet, Sketches Of Influence.
The cruise ship evidently had a number of other bands on board, too – ranging from Latin music to pop – and Barna breathed it all in, learning and compositionally digesting every nuance.
Internationally acclaimed harmonica-master Hendrik Meurkens rolled into the Flights Of Fantasy bookstore earlier this month to present an evening of impassioned jazz woven flawlessly into Brazilian song structures.
Accompanied by electric jazz-guitar maven Bob DeVos, the German-born Meurkens bobbed his head to the rhythms and passionately blew the harp filling the room with heart warming sambas and bossa novas. For several numbers of their almost two-hour set, Meurkens switched to the vibraphone, adding percussive accents to DeVos’ harmonic fretboard runs.
David Perry is no stranger to the regional jazz community; in fact, he’s been in the thick of it as a fan, advisor and supporting voice for the past 20 years.
Several years back, when A Place For Jazz had a last minute cancellation in the midst of their fall concert series, Perry took the initiative in the nick of time to get the right people together and bring in heavyweight sax-master David “Fathead” Newman to play at the Whisperdome.
Back in November, Perry undertook his first venture into the world of producing, promoting and personally funding a jazz concert – bringing in monster saxophonist Jerry Weldon to his wife’s Flights Of Fantasy bookstore in Colonie. Though the two-night stand was a musical success for the jazz community, after the final tally, it cost Perry a few shekels out of his own pocket to pay the musicians and other related costs.
No worries, the satisfaction of putting on the concert outweighed the financial loss; Perry was determined to try it again.
Saxophone monster Jerry Weldon – a member of the Harry Connick Jr. Band and a prolific leader of his own small combos – is no stranger to the Capitol District. He’s blown the roof off the Bread & Jam Café in Cohoes, boiled coffee with his burning solos at Spill The Beans in Troy and musically soared with the birds at the Crossings in Colonie.
This weekend, he returns to Nippertown, leading a trio with organist Kyle Koehler and drummer Joe Barna on Saturday and Sunday at Flights of Fantasy in Colonie.