Last Friday, Sal Prizio rather abruptly closed his Bread & Jam Cafe in Cohoes, just a week before the cafe was to celebrate its second anniversary with a big concert at the Cohoes Music Hall. In these troubled economic times, it’s no surprise that an intimate live music venue like B&J would be experiencing financial hard times.
But it seems that there was also another factor in his decision to close the cafe. Prizio had just been selected as the new Director of Programming at the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center.
A staunch supporter of the local music scene – especially in the areas of jazz and singer-songwriters – Prizio will now have a bigger better venue to showcase some of that talent.
The Massry Center is slated to host a concert by New Orleans veteran Preservation Hall Jazz Band on Tuesday, October 26.
Thanks to Sal for all his hard work at the Bread & Jam, and congratulations on the new job.
Not trying to be morbid or disrespectful or anything like that, but for the past five or six times that we’ve had the thoroughly enjoyable pleasure of seeing Dave Brubeck in concert, we say to ourselves, “Well, this will probably be the last opportunity we’ll have to hear him.”
And then he comes back again, and we see him again, and we think the same thing again.
Brubeck is 88 years old.
There are 88 keys on the piano.
You do the math.
On Wednesday night, the masterful Brubeck led his quartet into the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts in Albany, and once again delivered a sparkling, imaginative, passionate concert.
NOTE: Now we realize that a lot of people donated a lot of money to build this beautiful arts center, but don’t you think it’s going a little overboard that Brubeck performed on the D’Arcy-Brady Stage of the Kathleen McManus Picotte Recital Hall in the Massry Center for the Arts at the College of Saint Rose?
Walking onstage to a rousing standing ovation, Brubeck shuffled up to the microphone and said, “Thank you. I hope you do that after we play.” No problem there, as standing o’s were regularly – and rightfully – scattered throughout the two generous hour-long sets.
And the sets were filled with a delightful balance and variety of tunes – the funky “Crescent City Stomp” (with drummer Randy Jones turned the traditional New Orleans parade beat inside out and upside down), the beautiful ballad “Elegy,” a sizzling, all-bopped-up rendition of Gerswhin’s “I Got Rhythm,” a sweet ‘n’ wistful reading of Eubie Blake’s “Memories of You,” the bluesy whisper-to-a-wail of “Stormy Weather” (featuring a sensational sax solo from Bobby Militello).
And, yes, the white-haired, tuxedo-clad quartet wrapped up the show with a requisite run-through of “Take Five.” Brubeck didn’t even bother to mention that the song and the album that featured it (“Time Out”) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. He didn’t have to. Wednesday’s 11-minute version still provided surprises, even after all these years, as the bandmembers took the jazz classic and ran it through a variety of twists and turns, culminating in a torrential drum solo from Randy Jones.
But the band wasn’t done yet. Returning for an encore, Brubeck tickled out an old familiar melody on the Steinway, almost joking around. The musicians all laughed and slipped into the impromptu song, bassist Michael Moore shining with an appropriately woozy, off-balance solo. The next thing you know, the whole audience was all singing along:
“Show me the way to go home
I’m tired and I want to go to bed
I had a little drink about an hour ago
And it went right to my head
Where ever I may roam
On land or sea or foam
You will always hear me singing this song
Show me the way to go home”
You can also check out my review in the Times Union.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet performs at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Mass. at 8pm on Saturday, October 17. Also on the bill will be the Berkshire Jazz Youth Ensemble.
It’s a double-header kind of day for versatile saxman Ben Wendel. Los Angles-based saxophonist/bassoonist Wendel and his group will be showcased in a pair of performances today (Friday, October 2). They will be performing a free concert at 5:30pm at the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts in Albany before heading over to the longtime Nippertown jazz club, Justin’s in Albany, for another round of tunes beginning at 9:30pm.
A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Wendel has enjoyed quite a diverse career as a performer, composer and producer. Recent highlights include tours with such acclaimed artists as Cuban drumming legend Ignacio Berroa, Thelonious Monk Piano Competition winner Tigran Hamasyan, electronica artist Daedelus and hip-hop star Snoop Dogg. In addition, Wendel is a founding member of the genre-bending group Kneebody.
Wendell is also plenty busy as a composer, having scored multiple films, received the ASCAP Jazz Composer Award, won the 2007 International Songwriting Competition and recently received the Chamber Music America “New Works Grant.” Wendel’s first solo album, “Simple Song,” was released in March on the Sunnyside Records label.
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