Hudson Jazz Festival this weekend

Amir ElSaffar

Curated by Hudson-based jazz pianist Armen Donelian, the Hudson Jazz Festival takes place at Hudson Hall in the Hudson Opera House on the weekend of February 15 through 17. In an age when Aerosmith has headlined major jazz festivals and the lineups tend to be stacked with non-jazz acts, the Hudson affair is micro and boutique, small and intensive and truly designed for aficionados on the cutting edge of jazz aesthetics.

On Friday, February 15, Bobby Sanabria and his Quarteto Aché perform at 7 p.m. The seven-time Grammy-nominated drummer/percussionist has played with such legendary figures as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Paquito D’Rivera, and the godfather of Afro-Cuban jazz, Mario Bauzá. Standalone tickets to this performance cost $25.

Saturday – a very full day – begins with a jazz piano summit at 1 p.m. featuring three world-class pianists: Kirk Nurock, Lynne Arriale and Sullivan Fortner. Tickets cost $25. At 3 p.m., there will be a showing of the film The Modern Jazz Quartet: From Residency to Legacy. Featuring Percy Heath, John Lewis, Dave Brubeck, Gunther Schuller, Stephanie Barber and more, this fascinating collection of remembrances and anecdotes highlights the Modern Jazz Quartet’s role in developing the Music Inn’s iconic School of Jazz in the Berkshires. Filmmaker George Schuller will be in attendance for a post-screening question-and-answer session with Hudson Jazz Festival curator Armen Donelian. On Saturday night at 7 p.m., Fearless Masters performs: an ensemble featuring Donelian, saxophone great Dave Liebman and the rhythm section of Jay Anderson and Jay Clayton. Tickets cost $35.


Sunday kicks off with a jazz workshop for intermediate young players of middle-school age or higher, conducted by Donelian at 11 a.m. Then, at 3 p.m., Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble close the festival. Deeply rooted in the musical traditions of Iraq, Two Rivers blends Arabic music with advanced jazz harmonies, polyphonic melodies and simmering grooves. Jazz and Middle Eastern music beautifully intertwine in this dynamic ensemble led by celebrated trumpeter, santur-player, vocalist and “one of the most promising figures in jazz today” (Chicago Tribune), Amir ElSaffar.

For tickets and additional information, visit