Jazz in the Valley Returns to Poughkeepsie for its 16th Annual Celebration of America’s Music on Sunday, August 21 at Waryas Park, in an Afternoon Full of Such Stars as Randy Weston, Craig Harris, Randy Brecker, Charenee Wade, Javon Jackson, Chico Alvarez & the Palomonte Afro-Cuban Big Band and Jimmy Cobb.
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY -- Jazz leaders and legends including pianist Randy Weston, trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist Javon Jackson, trombonist Craig Harris, and drummer Jimmy Cobb will join with emerging stars such as vocalist Charenee Wade to headline the sixteenth annual Jazz in the Valley festival, on Sunday, August 21, noon-6:00pm, at Waryas Park on the banks of the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie (gates open at 11:00am). Brecker, Jackson, and Cobb will perform in the superb and “Jazz by 5” with pianist George Cables and bassist Eddie Gomez, which is currently completing a European tour. Honey-voiced Charenee Wade has been described in the New York Times as, “a jazz singer of commanding skill, an heir to the legacies of Betty Carter and Carmen McRae.” Festivalgoers can also shake their hips to Chico Àlvarez & the Palomonte Afro-Cuban Big Band.
This year’s lineup of free performances on the Waryas Park pavilion stage includes groups led by guitarist Slam Allen and vocalist Stephanie Hancock, as well as the Dutchess Community College Jazz Ensemble and the Mike Torsone Memorial Band led by trumpeter Matt Jordan. Visual art also has a role this year at Jazz in the Valley, in a pop-up gallery that will feature works by Jordan Baker-Caldwell, Brian Collier, Juliette Hemingway, and Lance Johnson.
Jazz in the Valley is a beautifully staged daylong celebration presented by the Hudson Valley based multi-arts organization Transart & Cultural Services. The festival takes place on two stages at Waryas Park, a nine-acre green oasis alongside the Hudson River in downtown Poughkeepsie. The main stage under the big tent features the festival’s headline acts, and on the pavilion stage an afternoon full of free performances includes area musicians. A food court and global marketplace add more flavor to the daylong festival.
In past years Jazz in the Valley has presented a galaxy of star musicians, including several Grammy winners and National Endowment for the Arts “Jazz Master” honorees: Ahmad Jamal, Ron Carter, Roy Hargrove, Hugh Masakela, Kevin Mahogany, Bill Charlap, Cedar Walton, Curtis Fuller, Mulgrew Miller, Jimmy and Percy Heath, Eddie Palmieri, Arturo O’Farrill, Steve Turre, Michelle Rosewoman, Roy Ayers, Houston Person, Ray Mantilla, Lou Donaldson, and “Chocolate” Amenteros.
“What better way is there to spend an August Sunday afternoon than at our local park listening to world class music,” said Poughkeepsie City Council chairman Chris Petsas. “The view of the Hudson River is spectacular, but it’s the music that really counts. That, and bringing the diverse Hudson Valley community together” he remarked.
The roster of artists at the 2016 Jazz in the Valley features some of the hardest working musicians in jazz, a mixture of new and old styles of straight-ahead jazz, funk, fusion, and avant-garde with a few veterans of pop thrown in for fun:
Transart & Cultural Services, Inc. is a West Park, NY non-profit arts organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the art, history and popular culture of people of African descent. Transart has a long history of reaching out to students in public education to communicate with kids about how cool the arts can be, whether it’s fine art, visual art, performance art or music of all kinds. “We go into the schools all over the Hudson Valley to educate underserved kids through a series of programs and classes including Behind the Beat: Intro to Jazz,” says founder and president Greer Smith. During Behind the Beat sessions, professional musicians interact with local band students. Other opportunities for students include weekly drumming workshops, musical assemblies and master classes.
Beyond school programs, each August Transart becomes a concert promoter with Jazz in the Valley to show the public, in many cases local students, what professional musicians are like in action. “With Jazz in the Valley the audience gets to experience the thrill of live music with masters of the genre,” says Smith. Transart hopes to create a new generation of jazz lovers and listeners through educating students about the history of jazz and its cultural relevance in minority communities. Kids need to see they are part of something bigger, part of a history, an artistic movement that’s alive,” says Smith.
Promotional partner for Jazz in the Valley is Metro North. Transart’s funding also comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, Dutchess Tourism, Hudson River Valley Tours, the City of Poughkeepsie and others.