Jazz in New York’s Hudson Valley

When people think of jazz in New York State, everyone assumes it’s only widely available in New York City. Actually, there is often great jazz being made all over New York State, especially in the summer, when Manhattanites tend to do their best to leave the city as much as possible. This past weekend I enjoyed a couple of wonderful intimate jazz performances in New York’s Hudson Valley, and there’s much more to come.

On Friday, I had the chance to hear the Jesse Lynch Trio up in Saratoga Springs, New York at the historic Gideon Putnam hotel. Pianist Jesse Lynch mainly used a Fender Rhodes-esque electric piano sound, which along with the electric bass of Steve Beskerone and Matt Smallcomb’s drumming evoked Chick Corea’s Elektric Band. The allusion to Chick Corea is based not only on timbre, but also on their extensive use of Latin/samba grooves. Their unique presentation of Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” with a Latin beat was particularly notable. Smallcomb brought a light touch on the drums, which was impressively melodic and tasteful. His background in classical percussion was apparent. Beskerone – who has performed with such legends as Ray Charles, Horace Silver, and Philly Joe Jones – traversed the neck of his bass with effortless fluidity. Together they allowed Lynch the freedom to develop compelling rhythmic and melodic ideas in his solos.

This show Friday was a precursor to an excellent jazz festival right around the corner from the Gideon Putnam at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this coming weekend, June 30th and July 1st. Friehofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival will feature such world-class artists like Esperanza Spalding, Christian McBride, Michel Camilo, and Diana Krall, to name just a few. The full list is available here: http://www.spac.org/jazzfest/.

Following Friday’s great performance, I enjoyed a set by the Tristen Napoli Quartet in Peekskill, NY at the Peekskill Coffeehouse on Sunday. A recent graduate of SUNY Purchase’s jazz program, trumpeter Napoli is a rising star to keep an eye on in the jazz scene. In the two-hour set, he stood out with his inventive, logical improvisations. You can find out more about Napoli (and hear his own compositions and arrangements) at http://www.tristennapoli.com/. Napoli brings a group to Peekskill Coffeehouse monthly. Additionally, July 21st marks Peekskill’s 6th annual Jazz and Blues Festival. The headliners there include Nation Beat, Mark Cary Focus Trio, Lakecia Benjamin, and Bobby Sanabria. The details for this festival can be found at http://downtownpeekskill.com/JB/2012JBHome.html.

New York is a big state, and there’s a lot going on in all of it. Take some time to get out of the city, and enjoy some festivals!


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