Live jazz is alive and well in the Capital Region. For starters, there are a number of organizations that promote jazz in various ways. The oldest of these is A Place for Jazz (aplaceforjazz.org), founded in 1987. In spite of its name, APFJ is not really a place, but an organization whose programs include concerts, public workshops, school-based clinics, a jazz website, a scholarship program and general support of jazz and its musicians. APFJ is noted for its series of five concerts every fall. Annual membership is by donation, with different levels of benefits depending on the amount donated.
The main purpose of the Swingtime Jazz Society (swingtimejazz.org) is to promote good music by sponsoring four or five concerts per year that feature regional jazz artists. $100 gets you lifetime membership and the opportunity to help select the artists at regular membership meetings. SJS administers the Lee Shaw Scholarship Fund for a high-school senior who is going to pursue jazz studies in college.
Capital District Jazz (cdjazz.org) was formed by local jazz practitioners who want to share their love of jazz. CDJ’s mission is to build and serve a wider audience through education and by creating performance opportunities. Its flagship educational program is the “All Ears: Jazz and Improvised Music” summer workshop.
Jazz/Latino, Inc. (jazzlatino.org) is primarily dedicated to promoting Latin jazz education and appreciation. Its programs will resume in 2019.
To the east, Berkshires Jazz (berkshiresjazz.org) presents a wide range of jazz-related activities in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, including performances and youth-related events.
To our south, Catskill Jazz Factory (catskilljazzfactory.org) is a program of the 23A Arts Initiative that “supports jazz music through cross-generational dialogue, community building and artistic excellence.” Annual artist residencies, performances and educational programs are offered in the Hudson Valley, New York City and beyond.
Jazzstock (jazzstock.com), created by vocalist Teri Roiger and bassist John Menegon, “celebrates jazz in the Hudson Valley, presenting world-renowned and up-and-coming musicians – local, national and international – to entertain, enrich, educate and enliven audiences and musicians of all ages.”
These organizations are 501(c)(3) non-profit corporations.
Hear live jazz in Capital Region
Places to hear live jazz are plentiful in the Capital District. They are listed by broad category below, with whatever scheduling information was available at the time of writing. The further out a scheduled event is, the more important it is that you confirm with the venue, unless you don’t mind a little surprise in your life. The best way to keep current with local jazz is to check the calendar at aplaceforjazz.org/calendar.htm or albanyjazz.com/calendar.html. The weekly entertainment sections of the Times-Union, Troy Record and Daily Gazette also have useful information. I’ve tried to be as inclusive as possible, but I apologize in advance if I’ve omitted your favorite.
That’s the story, folks. If you’re a jazz lover, or even just a jazz liker, you should certainly be able to find something that suits your taste. Remember: The best way to keep the music alive is to go out and support it.
Jerry Gordon is president of the Swingtime Jazz Society, secretary of A Place for Jazz, and web master for both. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April is Jazz Appreciation Month. The two musicians’ unions in our area usually recognize it by hosting special events, and this year is no exception. On April 29, The Albany & Troy Union (Local 14) will hold a free event from 2-6pm at the Colonie Elks Club. It will include performances by several local groups. The Schenectady Union (Local 85) hasn’t announced the date yet, but they usually hold a free concert at Robb Alley, off the lobby at Proctors Theatre. In addition, there are usually concerts at various libraries, schools and other public venues. Watch the web sites above for announcements.
The APFJ five-concert series starts in mid-September and continues every other Friday at 7:30pm. It takes place at the Whisperdome, the beautiful listening space in the Unitarian Universalist Society, 1221 Wendell Avenue, Schenectady. The artists will be announced in March or April; they typically include four musicians or groups of national stature and one of local renown. A list of previous performers is available at aplaceforjazz.org/concertseries.htm; you’ll find the schedule there, too, when it’s announced.
The Swingtime Jazz Society (SJS) concerts are held the second Sunday of January, March, June, and October. The concert by the featured artist runs from 4-6pm, followed by an open jam session from 6-7pm. The concerts include March 11: Bronte Roman Quintet at Van Schaick Island Country Club and June 10 and October 14: TBA. Keep an eye on swingtimejazz.org for the schedule.
Capital District Jazz is presenting the “Jazz at the Spring” concert series on the last Thursday of each month at the Spring Street Gallery in Saratoga Springs. All shows are at 7:30pm and will feature on February 22: Michael Musillami and Rich Syracuse; March 29: Joe Barna with Sketches of Influence; April 26: Chris Pasin and Friends; May 31: Arthur Falbush & Keith Pray Quintet; June 28: Peg Delaney Trio; July 26: Mark Kleinhaut Quartet; August 30: track season – no show; September 27: The Giroux Brothers; October 25: TBA; November 29: The John Stowell Quartet. Concerts also will be held at The Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy on the last Tuesday of March, April and May.
Berkshires Jazz will be presenting the Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra in Great Barrington on April 15; Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend on Father’s Day weekend; Jazz Showcase outdoor event on the Pittsfield Common on August 11; a combined solo performance and audience discussion with Ramsey Lewis in July; and their flagship event, the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival on October 5-14.
Catskill Jazz Factory presents “Jazz in the Snow” concerts at the Mountain Top Library in Tannersville on February 2, February 23, March 2 and Mar 23; their MAG Winter Concerts at the Millbrook Library in Millbrook on February 24 and March 3; and the “Classical, Jazz & Soul” series at Bard College in Red Hook on February 9, March 17 and April 21.
Jazzstock’s 2018 schedule will be announced soon; concerts will be held at Senate Garage in Kingston.
The Egg (theegg.org) – February 23: Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band; April 13: Jane Monheit and Frank Vignola; April 22: Brad Mehldau Trio.
Proctors (proctors.org) – February 16: Birdland All-Stars featuring Tommy Igoe.
Jazz on Jay is held every Thursday during the summer from 12-1:30 pm in “The Circle” at the corner of State and Jay Streets, across from Proctors in Schenectady. The rain location is in the Muddy Cup, located next to the Proctors Box Office.
Empire State Youth Orchestra (esyo.org) has a Repertory Jazz Ensemble (RJE), a Youth Jazz Ensemble (YJE) and a Youth Jazz Orchestra (YJO) with concerts slated April 20: YJO + St. Rose’s Jazz Ensemble at Massry Center for the Arts; May 6: YJE and RJE at Massry Center for the Arts.
First Reformed Church of Schenectady (8 North Church Street, Schenectady, 518.377.2201, (1streformed.com) has a Jazz Vespers service every Sunday from 5-6 pm featuring many of the area’s best jazz pianists in solo, duo and trio formats. February 4, March 4: Nat Phipps Duo; February 11: Mike Lamkin; February 18: Peg Delaney Trio; February 25: Dave Gleason; March 11: Tim Olsen Duo; March 18: Peg Delaney Duo; March 25: Wayne Hawkins.
Massry Center for the Arts (1002 Madison Avenue, Albany, 518.637.8556 (strose.edu/) – February 23: College of St Rose Jazz Ensemble; April 20: CSR Jazz Ensemble and Empire State Youth Jazz Orchestra; May 6: Empire State Youth Jazz Ensemble and Youth Repertory Jazz Ensemble.
Tanglewood (297 West Street, Lenox, MA, 413.637.4486) – June 29, 7pm: Bela Fleck & the Flecktones.
Schenectady County Community College (78 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, sunysccc.edu) – Concerts are in the Carl B. Taylor Auditorium. April 17, 7:30pm: Empire Jazz Orchestra, “Finale,” the final concert directed by EJO founder William Meckley, who is retiring.
Skidmore College (815 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs, skidmore.edu) – Summer Jazz Institute in the Zankel Music Center: June 26, 8pm: TBA; June 28 and July 5, 8pm: Skidmore Jazz All-Stars; June 29 and July 6, 1pm: Jazz Institute Student Concert; July 3, 8pm: Dave Liebman Quintet.
Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore, “Upbeat on the Roof” summer concerts at 7pm, usually include some jazz.
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (State and Second Streets, Troy, 518.273.0038, troymusicalhall.org) – February 15: Time for Three; February 16: Gregory Porter; February 24: American Rhapsody – The Gershwin Songbook.
Vermont Jazz Center (72 Cotton Mill Hill, Studio 222, Brattleboro, VT, 802.254.9088, vtjazz.org) – February 17: Marquis Hill Blacktet; March 10: Jazzmeia Horn; March 24: Donny McCaslin Quartet; April 13-15: Solo Jazz Piano Fest; May 12: Trio da Paz; June 9: Eugene Uman’s Convergence Project.
Summer brings an additional outpouring of music. Many cities and towns in the area hold summer concerts that generally encompass all types of music; none is exclusively jazz, but many include some jazz. You’ll have to check the schedules when they’re published (see “the best way to keep current …” above). Among the communities where you’ll find such performances are Albany, Averill Park, Ballston Spa, Canajoharie, Colonie, Greenwich, Guilderland, Lake George, Round Lake, Schenectady, Scotia, and Troy.
Restaurants and clubs
Athos Restaurant (1814 Western Avenue, Albany, 518.608.6400, athosrestaurant.com) – Every Friday, 6:30-9:30pm. February 2: Al Santoro & Friends; February 9: Andrea Scow Band; March 2: Roben & Kosek Jazz & Blues; March 9: Patricia Dalton & The Jazz Colleagues; March 16, 23: TBA; March 30: Al Santoro & Friends.
Bear Café (295 Tinker Street, Woodstock, 845.670.5555, bearcafe.com) – Every Friday, 6-9pm: Peter Einhorn & Lou Pappas.
Blue Plate Restaurant (1 Kinderhook Street, Chatham, 518.392.7711, chathamblueplate.net) – Second Wednesday, 6-9pm: Allen Halstead & Azzaam Hameed. All other Wednesdays, 6-9pm: Lincoln Mayorga & Otto Gardner.
Bourbon St Bar & Grill (78 Millpond Parkway, Monroe, 845.782.8501, bourbonstreetbarandgrill.net) – Every Friday, 7:30-10pm: Larry Newcomb, Joe Vincent Tranchina & guest.
Café Capriccio (49 Grand Street, Albany, 518-465-0439, cafecapriccio.com) Most Fridays, 7pm: Julie Donnaruma Quartet. Caffè Lena (47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, 518.583.0022, caffelena.com) – First Tuesday, 7pm: Chuck Lamb Trio + guests; February 4, 2pm: Red Canna and Decho Ensemble; February 9, 8pm: Nisky Dixie Cats.
Castle St. Café (10 Castle Street, Great Barrington, MA, 413.528.5244 castlestreetcafe.com) – Every Friday, 8-11pm.
Daily Grind (46 Third Street, Troy, 518.272.8658 dailygrind.com) – Jazz brunch every Sunday, 12-2pm.
Diamond Club Grill (Embassy Suites, 86 Congress Street, Saratoga Springs, 518.886.1111, diamondclubgrill.com) – Live music Friday and Saturday, 6:30-9:30pm, but not always jazz.
Dukes Chophouse (Rivers Casino, 1 Rush Street, Schenectady, 518.579.8850, rivers casinoandresort.com/dining/dukes/) – Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 5:30-9:30pm.
The Falcon (1348 Route 9W, Marlboro, 845.236.7970, liveatthefalcon.com) – Every Sunday, 8pm: Jazz at the Falcon; first Wednesday: Common Tongue’s jazz fusion tributes; third Wednesday: Jazz Sessions (sign up and sit in); third Thursday: bigBANG. February 10: Ed Palermo Big Band; February 16: Club d’Elf with John Medeski; February 26: Nicole Davis.
The Fountain (283 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, 518.482.9898) – Second (sometimes first) Friday, 10pm-1am and second Saturday, 9:30pm-12:30am: Skip Parsons’ Riverboat Jazz Band. Started in 1971, this is probably the longest-running jazz gig in the area.
Gateways Inn (51 Walker Street, Lenox, MA, 413.637.2532, gatewaysinn.com) – Every Friday and Saturday, 7:30-10:30pm. Seven nights/week starting July1.
Grappa ’72 (818 Central Avenue, Albany, 518.482.7200, grappa72.com) – Wednesdays and Thursdays, 6:30-9:30pm: Hamilton Street Jazz Company. Fridays, February 9: Peg Delaney Trio with Earl Davis; February 16: Fresh; February 23, April 6: Esprit Lounge; March 2: Rich Syracuse & Jeff Siegel; March 9: Joe Sorrentino Trio; March 16, April 27: Paul Borrello; March 23: Cordial Quartet; March 30: Pete Sweeney Trio; April 13: A3; April 20: Jeanne O’Connor.
Hamlet & Ghost (24 Caroline Street, Saratoga Springs, 518.450.7287, hamletandghost.com) – Every Wednesday, 7-10pm: Hot Club of Saratoga Trio.
Lydia’s Café (7 Old US 209, Stone Ridge, 845.687.6373, lydias-cafe.com) – Every Saturday, 7-10pm. February 3: The Acquaintances; February 17: Peter Einhorn Trio; March 3: Heather Cornell/Jennifer Herzog Trio; March 10: Chris Pasin Quartet.
Mouzon House (High Rock Avenue near the Farmers’ Market, Saratoga Springs, 518.226.0014, mouzonhouse.net) – Every Thursday, 6-9pm: Hot Club of Saratoga Trio; every Friday, 6-9pm: Mark Tolstrup & The Dixie Boys; every Saturday, 6-9pm: Joe Gitto & Dan Wancyk; every Sunday, 6-9pm: Jeanine Ouderkirk Trio.
New York Restaurant (353 Main Street, Catskill, 518.943.5500, nyrestaurantcatskill.com) – Every Sunday, 1-4pm: Jazz brunch with various musicians.
9 Maple Ave (9 Maple Avenue, Saratoga Springs, 518.587.7759, 9mapleavenue.com) – Every Friday and Saturday, 9pm-1am. February 2, April 6: Tim Olsen Quartet; February 3, April 14: John LeRoy Trio; February 9, April 20: Arch Stanton Quartet; February 10, April 28: Keith Pray Quartet; February 16, April 13: Michael Benedict Jazz Vibes; February 17, April 21: Pat Attanasio Quartet; February 23, April 27: Steve Lambert Quartet; February 24, April 7: John Savage Quartet; March 2, May 4: New Regime; March 3: Terry Gordon Quartet; March 9, May 18: Chuck Lamb Quartet; March 10, May 5: Pete Sweeney Quartet; March 16: Rob Lindquist Group; March 17, May 26: Dave Fisk Quartet; March 23, May 12: Scott Bassinson Quartet; March 24, May 19: Sketches of Influence; March 30, May 11: Mark Kleinhaut Quartet; March 31: Graeme Francis Trio; May 25: George Muscatello Group
Panza’s (510 NY 9P on Saratoga Lake, Saratoga Springs, 518.584.6882, panzasrestaurant.com) – February 9, 6:30-9:30pm: Christine Spero; February 10, 7-10pm: Colleen Pratt with Peg & Bill Delaney; February 17, 7-10pm: Michael Panza & Charles Cornell Trio; February 23, 6:30-9:30pm: Azzaam Hameed; February 24, 6:30-9:30pm: Peg Delaney.
Prairie Whale (178 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA, 413.528.5050, Find us on Facebook) – Every Sunday, 6:30pm: Lucky 5.
Provence (Stuyvesant Plaza, Western Avenue at Fuller Road, Albany, 518.689.7777, provence-restaurant.net) – Every Friday and Saturday, 6-9pm. February 2: Jazz Connection; February 3: Roben & Kozek Trio; February 9: A3 Trio; February 10: Linda Harrison Trio; February 16: Al Santoro Duo; February 17: Allen Halstead and Azzaam Hameed; February 23: Take Two Trio; February 24: Bronte Roman Trio
Renaissance Hall (820 Eastern Avenue, Schenectady, 518.237.2787, nyharp.com) – Every Sunday, 11am-2pm: brunch with Cliff Bucker & Friends; first Friday, 7-10pm: Cliff Brucker & Friends.
Sake Steak House (811 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, 518.785.7215 sakealbany.com) – Every Saturday, 7:30pm: February 3, March 3, May 19: One-Eyed Cat; February 10, March 10, March 31, April 14, April 21: The New Edge; February 17, March 17, April 28: Groove Nouveau; February 24, April 7, May 5, May 26: Breakin’ Up the House; March 24: New Regime; May 12: Billy’s Bounce.
Salt & Char (353 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 518.450.7500, saltandchar.com) – Jazz brunch every Sunday, 12-3pm: Hot Club of Saratoga Senate Garage (4 North Front Street, Kingston, 845.802.5900, senategarage.com) – Most of the Jazzstock concerts will be held here.
South Street Café (105 South Street, Bennington, VT, 802.447.2433, southstreetcafe.com) – Jazz brunch every Sunday, 11am-1pm: Banulis & Miller Jazz Duo.
Speakeasy 518 (42 Howard Street, Albany, 518.449.2332, speakeasy518.com) – Every day except Sunday, 9pm-12am. Every Monday: Joe Finn. Every Tuesday: Swing night with Mike Jenkins; February 1, 14, 24: Tyler Giroux; February 2: George Muscatello Trio; February 3: Nate Giroux; February 7: Jon LeRoy; February 8, 15: Useless Duo; February 9; Shaun McCarthy Trio; February 10: Phil Allen Trio; February 16: Justin Henricks Trio; February 17: Jonathan Greene Trio; February 22: Brian Patneaude Duo; February 23, 28: Mark Kleinhaut.
Spindles (241 Remsen Street, Cohoes, 518.237.3816 Find us on Facebook) – Every Saturday from 7-10pm.
Station Bar & Curio (101 Tinker Street, Woodstock NY, 845.810.0203, stationbarandcurio.com) – Jazz for lunch every other Saturday from 2-5pm: Peter Einhorn Quartet.
Stockade Inn (1 North Church Street, Schenectady, 518.346.3400, stockadeinn.com) – Every Thursday and Friday, 7-10pm.
Troy Kitchen (77 Congress Street, Troy, 518.268.0068, facebook.com/troykitchenny) – First Thursday, 7-10pm: Joe Barna’s “Jazz in the Now”; third Thursday, 7-9pm: Phil Allen’s Concert Jazz Band.
Van Dyck (237 Union Street, Schenectady, 518.348.7999, vandycklounge.com) – First Tuesday every month, 8pm: Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble; March 22: Stu Hamm
Wishing Well (745 Saratoga Road, Wilton, 518.584.7640, wishingwellrestaurant.com) – Jazz piano every Saturday, 7-11pm, featuring mostly Rob Aronstein. Friday jazz will be added come summer.
Yono’s (25 Chapel Street, Albany, 518.436.7747, yonos.com) – More for fine dining than listening, but Hamilton Street Jazz Duo every Friday and Frank Mastan every Saturday, both 6:30-10pm.
Most notable is the first Friday of every month at the
Albany Elks Lodge (25 South Allen Street, Albany), featuring:
February 2: Lustre Kings;
March 2: Alan Thompson Little Big Band
April 6: Eight to the Bar
You can find more swing-dance information at albanyswingdancing.com and danceflurry.org/swing.
Jazz festivals are one-or multi-day events that feature many different bands or musicians. We’ve listed just the local ones – within a few hours or so of Albany. For a list of festivals within about a day’s drive, see aplaceforjazz.org/festivals.htm.
February 16-18: Dance Flurry Festival (Saratoga Springs)
June 15-18: Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend (Lee, MA)
June 23-24: Freihofer’s Jazz Festival (SPAC)
July 8: Mt. Greylock Jazz Festival (Lanesboro, MA)
July 9-29: Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival (North Adams, MA)
July 20-22: Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz (Hartford CT)
July 28-29: Litchfield Jazz Festival (Goshen, CT)
August 9-12: Hudson Valley Jazz Festival (around Beacon)
August 20: Jazz in the Valley (Poughkeepsie)
August 31-September 1: Wall St Jazz Festival (Kingston)
September 8: Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival (Albany)
September 16-17: Jazz at the Lake (Lake George)
October 5-14: Pittsfield CityJazz Festival (Pittsfield, MA)
— By Jerry Gordon