The Hudson Valley continues to be one of those pockets of musical creativity that are keeping the jazz idiom alive and innovative. The latest addition to our region’s year-round roster of jazz-flavored public celebrations is the aptly named Hudson Jazz Festival, debuting the weekend of February 16 to 18 at Hudson Hall in the historic Hudson Opera House in the City of Hudson.
The lineup for the fest’s inaugural year boasts some intriguing themes and acts, notably Sheila Jordan and JoAnne Brackeen.
Pianist Armen Donelian is serving as curator for this year’s event, and sets the tone for Friday evening, which he’s calling “Sounds from the Silk Road.” Beginning at 7 p.m., Donelian will perform “Songs of My Ancestors,” delving into his roots with his “beautifully elusive” (Downbeat) arrangements of poetic works by the 18th-century Armenian troubadour Sayat-Nova, whose name means King of Songs in Persian. His recital will be followed by the Ara Dinkjian Quartet, an instrumental collaboration rooted in Turkish, Armenian and Macedonian Roma music. Incorporating the dance beat of the Balkans into elements of jazz, rock and classical, the group features Ara Dinkjian on oud, Ismail Lumanovski on clarinet, Pablo Vergara on keyboard and Engin Gunaydin on percussion. Tickets to the full evening show cost $25.
Saturday afternoon features a solo piano immersion with 2018 NEA Jazz Master JoAnne Brackeen, followed by Aaron Goldberg and James Francies. That concert begins at 3 p.m., with tickets going for $24, and at 5 p.m. there’ll be a free screening of director Stephanie Castillo’s award-winning portrait of the life and premature loss of a great American jazz talent, Thomas Chapin: Night Bird Song (2016). One-of-a-kind bebop matriarch Sheila Jordan and vocalist/composer/lyricist/arranger Dominique Eade bring their world-class talent to the Hudson Hall stage at 7 p.m. on Saturday; tickets cost $35.
At 11 a.m. on Sunday, students are invited to a free (by preregistration), multi-generational hands-on jazz improvisation workshop taught by Donelian and saxophonist Marc Mommaas, co-founders of Hudson Jazzworks. The festival then comes to a fiery close at 3 p.m. with the wild and spontaneous Quarteto Moderno. Infusing Brazilian samba with contemporary jazz and chamber music, the quartet is led by guitarist/musicologist Richard Boukas and features clarinetist Lucas Pino, bassist Gustavo Amarante and drummer Muricio Zottarelli. Tickets cost $25.
Festival Weekend Passes are available for $90, which includes priority entry and seating to every performance and event. To purchase tickets, call (518) 822-1438 or visit http://hudsonhall.org/hudson-jazz-festival. Hudson Hall is located at 327 Warren Street in Hudson.