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!”