Posts Tagged ‘Schenectady’

Five Firsts: Jeff Thacher of Rockapella

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Jeff Thacher

Jeff Thacher

NAME: Jeff Thacher
BAND AFFILIATION: Rockapella
INSTRUMENT: Vocal percussion, the in-band full-time version of beatboxing

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS… E.L.O.’s Time

2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … Depends on your perspective. With parents: The Osmonds (late ’70s). By myself: Howard Jones (ca. 1984)

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LIVE: The Alexis Cole Quintet @ A Place for Jazz, 10/10/14

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Alexis Cole

Alexis Cole

Photographs by Rudy Lu

Award-winning jazz vocalist Alexis Cole has made an impressive impact on audiences ever since she first took the stage as a teenager. She won the 2007 Jazzmobile competition and received an award in the Montreux Jazz Vocal Competition. And she handily won over another batch of new fans earlier this month when she made her debut at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady’s Great Hall as the third installment of A Place for Jazz’s fall concert series.

She had plenty of support from her ace band featuring smooth-as-silk saxman Eric Alexander and 78-year-old veteran pianist Harold Mabern, as they wove their way through a well-chosen selection of Great American Songbook standards (from “All the Things You Are” to “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To”), blues (“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”) and originals (highlighted by Mabern’s “Such Is Life”), as well as a show-closing romp through Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz,” featuring a call-and-response between Cole and bassist David Finck).

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THEATER: “Newsies” @ Proctors, 10/12/14

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
(photo: Deen Van Meer)

(photo: Deen Van Meer)

Review by Greg Haymes

Exuberant, full of spunky singing and dancing and utterly predictable, “Newsies” – the Disney musical which is launching its national tour with a week-long run at Proctors in Schenectady through Friday – is an excellent production of a weak show.

Based on the flop 1992 Disney film musical of the same name, the book for the stage musical “Newsies” was tweaked by Broadway vet Harvey Fierstein, but he couldn’t do enough to save the formula, paint-by-numbers plotline in which the audience is always at least two or three steps ahead of the characters onstage.

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LIVE: Stefon Harris @ Proctors’ GE Theatre, 9/25/14

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Stefon Harris

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Jazz vibraphone virtuoso and Albany native Stefon Harris returned to town recently for a homecoming concert at Proctors’ GE Theatre in Schenectady, helping to raise funds for the Ring of Hope Boxing Club’s youth program, as well as test-driving a new group of musicians for a possible new band.

Now 41 years old, Harris may no longer qualify as a wunderkind, but there’s no question that he’s certainly still wonderful. With his mallets often flying faster than the eye could see, Harris anchored a stellar group of musicians, including acclaimed bassist Linda Oh, guitarist Mike Moreno, 25-year-old drummer Jonathan Pinson and 19-year-old pianist James Francis.

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Signs o’ the City

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Signs of the City: Proctors in Schenectady

Photograph by Richard Lovrich

Proctors’ new marquee lights up downtown Schenectady, 9/15/14

LIVE: The Ghost Train Orchestra @ the Music Haven, 8/10/14

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
(photo by Stanley Johnson)

Ghost Train Orchestra’s Brian Carpenter (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Photographs by Stanley Johnson, Andrzej Pilarczyk, Richard Brody

The motto of the Music Haven Concert Series in Schenectady’s Central Park has always been “Join us in traveling the world one concert at a time.” And the 2014 series did indeed travel from Africa to Ireland to Cuba to Chicago to Louisiana. But in wrapping up their 25th anniversary season with the Ghost Train Orchestra, the series took a slightly different tact, traveling not around the globe, but rather back in time.

The brainchild of Brian Carpenter – composer, arranger, trumpeter, vocalist – the GTO draws from the deep well of jazz by such early 20th century bandleaders as Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Tiny Parham, Fess Williams, Charlie Johnson and others.

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LIVE: Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys @ the Music Haven, 8/3/14

Friday, August 15th, 2014
Jeffrey Broussard & The Creole Cowboys

Jeffery Broussard (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Rudy Lu and Stanley Johnson

A recent Sunday evening crowd with an affinity for roots music got a double-dose of the good stuff at the Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park.

Ramblin Jug Stompers, local heroes of traditional jug-band music, got the feet tapping and hands clapping with their fine opener, “Mountain Dew.” Mister Eck’s lively mandolin propelled “Jug Band Music,” coaxing percussionist Will Bill to sing (and even whisper) like a mercurial carnival barker. Bowtie and Mister Eck played five-string and four-string banjos (“a patented duel banjo attack,” mused the latter) for a spirited “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” which was followed by guitarist Cousin Clyde’s mournful “A Man of Constant Sorrow.”

A delicate, swinging instrumental, “Frypan Jack Enters into Heaven” (from Hobo Nickel) was a fine showcase for Bowtie’s banjo and Cousin Clyde’s synchrony. Will Bill put aside his various percussion instruments for some soulful country harmonica during “Blues in the Bottle,” a showcase as well for Mister Eck’s robust vocals and resonator ukelele playing. No doubt hearing the freight train to their next destination, RJS closed their set with tight harmonies on crowd-pleaser “Old Plank Road,” a touchstone of the band’s live performances since its formation in 2006.

Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys brought the exuberant sounds and rhythms of zydeco from Louisiana for over an hour and a half. With a toothpick lodged in the right corner of his mouth, Broussard sang with a hearty voice in English and French and played his blue, white and red accordion masterfully. The crowd’s lack of familiarity with many of the songs – very few titles were announced – did not matter given the energy levels on the faster ones and the glorious ache of romance on the slow waltzes and two-steps. People young and old began dancing; by the end of the show, the area in front of the stage was crowded with happy dancers. Good will and good times never sounded so natural.

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THEATER: Cirque Eloize’s “iD” @ Proctors, 8/3/14

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

CirqueEloize_iD_Trampoline2012a

Review by Greg Haymes

Last year, the Montreal-based Cirque Eloize made their Proctors summer residency debut with “Cirkopolis,” a fusion of circus performance skills based around a somewhat bleak “Metropolis”-meets-”Brazil” theme, directed by Jeannot Painchaud.

This year they’re back with “iD” – also directed by Painchaud but with an entirely different troupe of performers – and it’s a decidedly more engaging, colorful, accessible and altogether thrilling display of circus skills based on a “West Side Story”-goes-hip-hop theme. And Sunday’s matinee performance was a real doozie.

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