Ever hear about legendary nights in jazz history and wish that you’d been there – sessions when everybody was playing at top form and soloists and sidemen alike were conjoined in a hivemind of rhythm, melody and harmony, intuitively stretching the boundaries of what all were capable of achieving? Well, it’s not too late to catch some of those magical moments. Each summer, right here on the banks of the Hudson, Jazz in the Valley assembles a mindblowing lineup of jazz luminaries.
It happens again for the 16th time this Sunday afternoon, August 21 in Poughkeepsie’s Waryas Park. The roster of artists at Jazz in the Valley 2016 features some of the hardest-working musicians in jazz: a mixture of new and old styles of straight-ahead jazz, funk, fusion and avant-garde, with a few veterans of pop thrown in for fun. Senior among these masters is 90-year-old pianist Randy Weston, whose CV goes back to the Harlem Renaissance and includes the likes of Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Langston Hughes as collaborators. Another Randy 20 years his junior, the surviving half of the Brecker Brothers, represents the jazz/funk/rock crossover end of the spectrum.
Then there’s drummer Jimmy Cobb, last living participant in Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue sessions; Eddie Gomez, former bassist for the Bill Evans Trio; Craig Harris, who cut his trombone teeth in Sun Ra’s Arkestra and made a jazz instrument of the didgeridoo; Alex Blake, who played the bass solo on the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends”; and a couple of graduates of that primo jazz finishing school, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers: pianist George Cables and Jazz in the Valley’s artistic director, tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson. Also on tap are Chico Alvarez & the Palomonte Afro-Cuban Big Band, longtime Weston percussionist Neil Clarke and up-and-coming singer/composer/arranger Charenée Wade.
At this year’s festival, Brecker, Jackson, Cobb, Cables and Gomez will perform together in a “superband” called Jazz by 5. Seriously, you’re going to kick yourself if you miss that combo.
Presented by the not-for-profit Transart & Cultural Services, Inc. of West Park, Jazz in the Valley will run from 12 noon to 6 p.m. this Sunday, August 21 on two stages in Waryas Park on the Poughkeepsie riverfront. Tickets cost $50 in advance, $60 at the gate, $20 for students with ID. You can purchase them online at https://jazzinthevalleyny.org or in person at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center box office or Blue-Byrd’s Haberdashery & Music in Kingston. For more info including the full schedule, (845) 384-6350 or visit the website.