A celebration of jazz at the Senate Garage and the Bearsville Theater 

Founders of Jazzstock Teri Roiger and John Menegon.

All working musicians have suffered through the COVID era — the loss of camaraderie and connection as well as the loss of revenue. Jazz musicians, however, are arguably affected the most. Improvisational, unrepeatable and highly interactive, jazz is fundamentally live music. Most classic jazz records were recorded live in the studio, usually in a single day. On the level of technical musicianship and theoretical understanding, jazz’s bar to entry is set high. Players are thus able to combine and recombine freely, often jumping on shows on extremely short notice and with no preparation at all except a lifetime of practice, some charts and a fluency in the conventions of the genre. All of which is to say, while all musicians lost something in quarantine, jazz players lost the main thing.

The mid-Hudson valley is disproportionately rich in jazz: an uncommonly deep pool of players and composers, a number of venues that favor jazz in their booking (The Falcon, Lydia’s Café and more), and the existence of several jazz promoters and advocacy groups including the Catskill Jazz Factory and, of course, Jazzstock. Founded in 2011 by the accomplished couple of bassist/composer John Menegon and vocalist/pianist Teri Roiger along with Bread Alone-founder and jazz-lover Dan Leader, Jazzstock launched with a bang. Its first production was a celebration of the 70th birthday of Jack DeJohnette, the long-time Woodstock resident and one of the most important drummers of the second half of the 20th Century and beyond. The Bearsville Theater show drew over 500 people and Jazzstock was off and running.

After a period of working out of multiple venues in the Woodstock area, in recent years Jazzstock found a stable (and hip) home at the Senate Garage in uptown Kingston, establishing itself as a fixture in the flourishing culture of the county seat. When all that came to a sudden halt in the spring of 2020, Teri and John did what musicians everywhere did: grabbed what outdoor and distanced shows they could, and then went back to the woodshed, composing and practicing, developing and expanding their game and awaiting the post-COVID sunrise that we still seem to be waiting on. At the height of his early fame, the great jazz tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins famously dropped out of sight for three years, perfecting his craft in isolation under the Williamsburg Bridge. In 2020, most musicians pulled a Sonny, per force.

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While the new ground rules for live music continue to be sorted out, Jazzstock is back with an array of new recordings, new shows, and new undertakings. John and Teri agreed to an email interview regarding what is turning out to be an eventful fall for them as players and as jazz promoters.

Teri Roiger Piano Trio, November 21, Bearsville Theater, Woodstock

While she is known mostly as a singer, Teri has played piano her entire life, serving as a church organist in her hometown of Minneapolis, and studying with the legendary stride pianist Butch Thompson in the years before her discovery of Billie Holiday redirected her passion toward jazz singing.

“One of the silver linings of the quarantine was awakening my lifelong passion for playing the piano,” she said. This has led to her stepping out with a piano/voice trio featuring John, and drummer Matt Garrity. “Hearing and seeing the late, great pianist and vocalist Shirley Horn awakened something in me. She is a big influence on my playing and singing. I’ve been fortunate to work and record with her drummer, Steve Williams, who contributed greatly to her overall sound. I also love player/singers like Blossom Dearie and Nat King Cole, as well as Andy Bey. The music of Thelonious Monk has been extremely influential in my playing. It feels great to finally be really committed to this lifelong passion of mine.”

Sunday, November 21, 11 a.m.
Bearsville Theater Lounge, 291 Tinker Street, Woodstock
Tickets: $5 – $25
https://bearsvilletheater.com

Sheila Jordan

 

Sheila Jordan 93rd Birthday Celebration, November 27, Senate Garage, Kingston

The NEA jazz master vocalist Sheila Jordan has been a fixture on the New York jazz scene since she moved there from Detroit in the 1950s. Her seven-plus decade career speaks to the great continuity of jazz music. She was married to Charlie Parker’s pianist Duke Jordan and she studied with one of jazz’s greatest secret weapons, the pianist Lennie Tristano. She worked frequently with the legendary jazz pianist and theoretician George Russell.  “Her ballad performances are simply beyond the emotional and expressive capabilities of most other vocalists,” wrote The New York Times.

“I first learned of this amazing vocalist when I still lived in Minneapolis, as all the “cats” were telling me to check her out,” said Teri. “I was impressed that the male instrumentalists were all impressed by her, so when I got to New York in the early ‘80s, I went to hear her at Fat Tuesdays and immediately fell in love with her extreme passion for the music, as well as her playfulness. Over the years, Sheila, John and I have become really good friends and we always enjoy her enthusiasm and amazing storytelling.”

Saturday, November 27, 7:30 p.m.
Senate Garage, 4 North Front Street, Kingston
Tickets: $30, available at Rhino Records, 6 North Front Street, Kingston
or at https://jazzstock.com.
Seating limited to 100.

Valley Jazz Records

Early in 2021, Teri and John founded Valley Jazz Records, a new jazz label featuring artists from within and without the Hudson valley. “We are consolidating all our past recordings and will re-release them on our new label. In addition, we’re going to make a vinyl of the first recording we did together, ‘Misterioso,’ (a Monk tune with Teri’s lyrics), with Jack DeJohnette and another jazz legend, guitarist Kenny Burrell.”

Some of the musicians involved in the ten re-released recordings include the late, great pianist Frank Kimbrough and trombonist Roswell Rudd, Steve Williams, Tineke Postma, Matt Wilson, Wayne Hawkins, Steve Gorn, Jay Collins, John Gunther, Mark Dziuba, Tani Tabbal, John Di Martino, Marc McLean, Judi Silvano, Maryanne de Prophetis, Sarah James, Joel Frahm, Greg Osby, Rebecca Coupe-Franks, Bob Meyer, Harvey Sorgen and Jonathan Lorenz.

For more information, visit https://valleyjazzrecords.com.

Sharp 5, Shine a Bright Light

The inaugural new release on the Valley Jazz label, Shine a Bright Light is a collection of originals and re-imagined standards and covers by Sharp 5, a quintet featuring Roiger, Menegon, keyboardist Pete Levin, drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel and the Brazilian percussionist Nanny Assis.

“We recorded the album in two days, exploring some new material that Pete Levin brought in, along with three of John’s originals. The beautiful arrangements Pete created on some of the tunes were influenced by his playing for many years in the Gil Evans Orchestra. The fact that we were all vaccinated and eager to play this music created a very positive and exciting experience for us all.”

Of note is a radically reimagined version of the King Crimson song “Matte Kudasai,” a song co-composed by Pete’s brother Tony Levin. “I never thought I’d be doing a King Crimson tune,” said Teri, “but when Pete brought ‘Matte Kudasai’ to a rehearsal one day, I immediately fell in love with the song and the simplicity of the story. Matte Kudasai is Japanese for ‘please wait.’ It has also been covered by Kurt Elling, KD Lang, and others, though we didn’t realize this until after we had recorded it.”

Shine a Bright Like attests to the ensemble’s shared love of Brazilian music, a tradition that has played such an enormous role in jazz history. “I have always loved the Bossa Nova and Samba and first started singing Jobim’s songs many years ago,” said Teri. “The rhythms are exciting but at the same time soothing, and the beautiful poetry of the Portuguese lyricists makes this music timeless and appealing to everyone. I feel a sincere naturalness when singing and playing this music.”

Check out Shine a Bright Light at https://teriroiger.bandcamp.com/album/shine-a-bright-light.

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