TRANSART & Cultural Services’ Jazz in the Valley Returns to Poughkeepsie for the 16th Annual Celebration of America’s Music
at a One-Day Concert Featuring Traditional and Modern Jazz Styles
on Sunday, August 21, Noon, at Waryas Park
Jazz in the Valley Presents
Randy Weston & the African Rhythms Trio with Alex Blake and Neil Clarke;
Jazz By 5: Javon Jackson, Randy Brecker, George Cables, Eddie Gomez and Jimmy Cobb; Craig Harris; Chico Alvarez & the Palomonte Afro-Cuban Big Band; Charenee Wade
Early Bird Tickets: $40 through August 14
General Admission: $50 in Advance; $60 at the Gate
Students with Valid ID: $20
(845) 384-6350 / www.jazzinthevalleyny.org
This year’s musical extravaganza features Randy Weston & the African Rhythms Trio with Alex Blake and Neil Clarke, Craig Harris, Chico Alvarez & the Palomonte Afro-Cuban Big Band, Charenee Wade and the festival’s Artistic Director Javon Jackson, who has put together a special supergroup, Jazz By 5, with Randy Brecker, George Cables, Eddie Gomez and Jimmy Cobb.
TRANSART has a long history of reaching out to students in public education to communicate with kids about how cool the arts can be, whether it’s fine art, visual art, performance art or music of all kinds. “We go into the schools all over the Valley to educate underserved kids through a series of programs and classes including Behind the Beat: Intro to Jazz,” says Founder and President of TRANSART Greer Smith. During Behind the Beat sessions, professional musicians interact with local band students. Other opportunities for students include weekly drumming workshops, musical assemblies and master classes.
“Imagine providing every at-risk adolescent a musical outlet to work through the difficulties of growing up through drumming. It’s a real physical way to release frustration and a positive group experience. And it’s kids creating sound-focused art together. It’s a magical experience,” Smiths says. “An arts education can change kids’ outlook, open their eyes to what lies beyond the stress of school or challenges at home. It’s essential to reach these kids.”
Beyond school programs, each August TRANSART becomes a concert promoter with Jazz in the Valley where the public is invited to see what professional musicians are like in action. “With Jazz in the Valley, the audience, many we hope are students we’ve met in schools, gets closer to experiencing the thrill of live music with these masters of the genre,” says Smith. TRANSART’s ultimate mission is to create a new generation of jazz lovers and listeners through educating students about the history of jazz and its cultural relevance in minority communities. “Kids need to see they are part of something bigger, part of a history, an artistic movement that’s alive,” says Smith.
Poughkeepsie City Council chairman Chris Petsas is one of many long-time supporters of Jazz in the Valley and TRANSART. “What better way is there to spend a warm August Sunday afternoon than at our local park listening to world-class music,” he wonders noting the mix of local and out-of-town visitors who attend the event. “The view of the Hudson River is spectacular,” he adds proudly. “But it’s the music that really counts, that and bringing the diverse Hudson Valley community together.”
In addition to being a culturally important event, “Jazz in the Valley is also a great economic boost for local merchants, innkeepers and restaurant owners because of the influx of visitors,” says Frank M. Castella, Jr., President and CEO of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce noted. “We welcome visitors from all over the Hudson Valley, New York City and beyond for this Festival and this is a great opportunity to showcase Poughkeepsie.”
The roster at the 2016 Jazz in the Valley features a mixture of world-renowned established and emerging artists highlighting the art form’s ever-changing and diverse sounds.
Meet The Artists:
This year’s performers feature some of the hardest working musicians in jazz. The living legend of the bunch, pianist and composer Randy Weston, is a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. At 90 he’s seen, heard, lived and could write about the history of jazz in the United States while remaining acutely aware of what is new in jazz and the African roots of jazz. A native New Yorker, he has traveled widely touring five continents and in Africa alone, 19 cities. Weston’s collaborators read like a chronicle of the Harlem Renaissance, the poet Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and other heroes of the genre. His playing has been described as big, rich and like “velvet emerging from the keys.”
Weston’s African Rhythms Trio with Alex Blake and Neil Clarke is not to be missed. Alex Blake plays acoustic bass, but in a way that is unique. Sometimes he strums, often he slaps the instrument, but whatever he does, he succeeds in making the instrument release the most wonderful strange sounds that only he can create. Proof can he heard in his solo on the Beatles classic With a Little Help from My Friends. African rhythms can be heard in percussionist Neil Clarke’s artful playing, but he is equally at home in gospel, jazz, pop or R&B. The multi-faceted performer has had a long collaboration with Randy Weston as a member of African Rhythms, and toured the world with Harry Belafonte. Back in New York, he performed in the Broadway production of Timbuktu and with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Jazz in the Valley’s Artistic Director, tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson, gained early fame as a player in renowned drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Jackson went on to work on Me and Mr. Jones, a collaboration with James Williams, Christian McBride and Jazz Master Elvin Jones. His musical style suggests comparisons to John Coltrane and Joe Henderson, but he is comfortable moving traditions forward. He is credited as a bandleader on more than a dozen albums. He is also an educator, assistant college professor and the chair of the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the University of Hartford.
Jackson has put together another supergroup for the festival, this year called Jazz By 5 featuring Randy Brecker, George Cables, Eddie Gomez and Jimmy Cobb.
For jazz with pop influences, Jazz in the Valley welcomes Grammy-Award winning composer Randy Brecker, a master of fusion funk. His trumpet and flugelhorn playing are featured on albums by a range of artists from Charles Mingus to Frank Zappa, Parliament, Bruce Springsteen, Steely Dan and Frank Sinatra. Over four decades he has toured the world recording with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, in Japan and all over Europe. His high-octane music has been called “electrojazzfunk” and a collaboration with his brother (the late Michael Brecker) inspired one music critic to exclaim, “this is about as funky as white boys can get.”
New York City native George Cables is a jazz pianist and composer with a long list of credits as a bandleader and as a contributor to other jazz masters’ albums. He got off to a quick start. As an 18-year-old he joined The Jazz Samaritans with some up and coming musicians and got the attention of drummer Art Blakey, who recruited Cables into the Jazz Messengers. From there, Cables’ reputation grew. He’s admitted to being a chameleon of sorts able to put on a different hat with each of his collaborators who have included Art Pepper, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Sarah Vaughan and many others.
Grammy-winning bassist Eddie Gomez has played for more than four decades with a host of jazz greats including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan and Benny Goodman. At age 21, he was hired on the spot by Bill Evans and became part of his trio. His influences are worldly coming from Latin jazz, classical music and even fusion jazz as a founding member of the band Steps Ahead. On the side, Gomez is a classical and a pop musician recording with artists like Carly Simon and Paul Simon.
A veteran collaborator of Miles Davis, drumming legend Jimmy Cobb appeared on classic recordings such as Sketches of Spain and Kind of Blue. And from there it’s as if he’s never stopped creating and improving jazz. As a Jazz Master, he currently is a bandleader for various New York-based bands including Jimmy’s Cobb’s Mob, and he teaches master classes at Stanford University and other schools.
Representing the avant-garde wing of jazz is trombonist and composer Craig Harris, who earned his innovative bona fides playing originally with Sun Ra and then following up with a host of groups touring the world constantly including the Tailgaters Tails and Cold Sweat. While performing in Australia, he discovered the Aboriginal didgeridoo, a wind instrument he has since added to his repertoire. Recently he has transcended jazz and entered into the arena of multimedia and performance art with works like God’s Trombones, a work based on poems used by preachers for inspiration.
Get up and dance to the full on force of Chico Àlvarez & the Palomonte Afro-Cuban Big Band. Bandleader and vocalist “Chico” Àlvarez Peraza is a Cuban-American born in New York, but raised in Cuba. His music is classic Cuban/Latin flavor that’s hard to resist. Àlvarez also hosts a New York radio show covering Latin music called New World Gallery.
Honey-voiced singer Charenee Wade is an award winning composer and jazz educator. Her recent project was called Offering, a recreation of songs from the late Gil Scott-Heron, a brave and difficult undertaking. Her interpretations were edgy, alive and warmly received. Wade is also a professor at the Aaron Copeland School of Music.
Early Bird tickets are $40 through August 14. General Admission is $50 I advance and $60 at the gate. Students with valid ID gain entrance for $20. For tickets in the Hudson Valley, visit: The Mid-Hudson Civic Center, 14 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie NY; Box Office Monday–Friday 10am-5:30pm, Saturday 12-4pm; or at Blue-Bryds Haberdashery & Music, 320 Wall Street, Kingston.
For tickets online, group sales, directions and more information about Jazz in the Valley, contact TRANSART at (845) 384-6350 or log on to www.jazzinthevalleyny.org.
Get a ticket and travel combination: Travel by bus to Jazz in the Valley and leave the driving to Lorenzo Patton (917) 345-1357 and Tyrone Woods at (646) 643-3035.
Promotional partner for Jazz in the Valley is Metro North. Take the train from Grand Central Terminal to Poughkeepsie Station and walk one short block to the festival.
TRANSART & Cultural Services, Inc. is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the art, history and popular culture of people of African descent. TRANSART’s funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the State Council on the Arts, Hudson River Valley Tours, the City of Poughkeepsie and others.
For more information, please visit www.transartinc.org.