Review and photographs by J Hunter
Additional photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
I’m in lock-step with Planet Arts svengali Thom Bellino when he says “(This) has always been a good area for jazz, but right now I think it’s terrific!” It’s not just that major musicians have come out of upstate New York, while others now call it home; it’s because the cadre of Greater Nippertown jazzers that have maintained the fire for decades is being augmented by a stream of young players that now make “young lions” like Brian Patneaude and Keith Pray seem like seasoned pros (which they are). Bellino pulled together both sides of this happy situation to begin the latest edition of PlanetArts’ “one2one” concert/discussion series.
The theme for the night was “Jazz Mentors and New Voices”, and the SRO crowd stuffed into the Athens Cultural Center’s main gallery had fine examples of both: On the Mentor side, Bellino and Michael Benedict have been working together for the last two years (most recently on the drummer/educator’s latest Bopitude disc “Five and One”), while Joe Finn’s been working his own side of the street for quite some time, giving us hollowbody guitar goodness through his own band and recording String Theory. As for New Voices, altoist Adam Siegel has been dive-bombing this area for over a year – primarily with various iterations of Joe Barna’s Sketches of Influence – while trumpeter Rhys Tivey is a former student of Benedict’s who will soon be graduating from NYU. Mike Lawrence has a foot in both categories: A great young bassist who’s played with Bopitude and Yuko Kishimoto, Lawrence is an educator at Schenectady High School.