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.