It’s always a bummer when a party has to end early, but what are you gonna do? Organizers of the Albany Riverfront Jazz Fest have had pretty good luck with weather in the past, so it’s understandable that they would roll the dice one more time… only this time the dice came up snake-eyes. The size and potential violence of oncoming storms forced the city to pull the plug a little after 3pm on Saturday, long before Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project, Charlie Hunter or Delfeayo Marsalis had a chance to grace the stage. In the eloquent words of Nippertown drum boss Dave Calarco, “It is what it is.”
“Can we at least enjoy an amazing band?” asked “Mike,” one of the fest emcees and a representative from Crush 105.7 (which had become “PopCrush 105.7” the afternoon before). Not only did we get to enjoy a short-but-HOT set from that “amazing band” (aka, the Pedrito Martinez Group), but the early risers and early arrivals got great music from three bands – two of them from Nippertown, and all of them a tribute to Riverfront’s ongoing effort to show jazz is living, breathing, and (most importantly) evolving!
April is “officially” Jazz Appreciation Month – or JAM, as the Smithsonian repeatedly refers to it; however, between the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, the Lake George Jazz Weekend, A Place for Jazz and the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival, the Capital Region really celebrates Jazz Appreciation Month in September. Like JAM, Riverfront is celebrating its 10th birthday, and like most ten-year olds, the festival is growing like a weed on steroids.
Michael Benedict & Bopitude got the opening slot Riverfront has always reserved for local acts. But as part of the festival’s ongoing growth spurt, ten other groups vied for an additional slot on Riverfront’s program by participating the night before the festival in the Downtown Albany Jazz Fest Competition, a multi-club “battle of the bands,” with the winner decided by audience members. Given the short notice and the first-year status of the contest, voter participation was pretty decent, and there’s talk of expanding the competition next year.
Fairly or unfairly, Jeff Coffin is known primarily as a sideman and a substitute: The multi-instrumentalist replaced harp wizard Howard Levy in Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, and then he stepped into the gap left in the Dave Matthews Band after the sudden death of saxman LeRoi Moore.
The Mu’tet – which also features Derek Trucks Band keyboardist Kofi Burbridge and second-generation bass wunderkind Felix Pastorius – is one of the featured acts at the 10th annual Port of Albany’s Riverfront Jazz Festival in Albany’s Riverfront Park on Saturday, and Coffin was kind enough to give us some time out of his chock-full schedule:
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