The 13th annual Transart Jazz in the Valley festival was held for the second year in Poughkeepsie’s Waryas Park. This year’s festival was a single-day affair held on two stages with one stage free to the public with local jazz performers.
The main stage this year featured the stylings of poet-vocalist Karen D. Taylor paying tribute to performance poet Jayne Cortez. St. Louis-based vocalist Denise Thimes belted out the blues with an all-star backup band featuring the master horn player Houston Person on tenor sax. Bassist Paul West, pianist Danny Mixon and drummer Winard Harper rounded out the top-notch rhythm section.
Trumpeter Maurice Brown – of the Tedeschi Trucks Band – brought a thoroughly contemporary sound to the festival with his R&B and hip-hop influenced brand of jazz. The other horn in his band was none other than rising star Marcus Strickland.
Rollins was also honored as Best Tenor Saxophonist. In addition, he was the subject of the portrait by John Abbott, which was named Best Jazz Photograph. And, of yeah, Rollins was also the subject of “Sonny Rollins: Getting It Back Together,” by Bret Primack, which was named Best Short Form Video of the Year:
Meanwhile, Hudson Valley saxophonist Joe Lovano and his band Us Five was named Best Small Ensemble, and their album, “Bird Songs,” earned top honors as Best Recording of the Year.
And Albany native Stefon Harris was also named Best Mallet Instrumentalist of the Year.
Nippertown jazz fans will also have the opportunity to see two more of the awards show’s double-winners in the spotlight – for free. The 84-year-old saxophonist Jimmy Heath earned the award for Best Book About Jazz (for his autobiography, “I Walked With Giants”) and well as the coveted Lifetime Achievement in Jazz honors. Heath will be performing with the Heath Brothers at Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center on Tuesday, June 28. And Ambrose Akinmusire – who was named Up-and-Coming Artist of the Year as well as Best Trumpeter of the Year – is also slated to perform at the Zankel Music Center on Tuesday, July 5. Both performances are part of the Skidmore Jazz Institute.
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