A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Jazz in the Hudson Valley

A Very Personal Look By David McCarthy

    The Hudson Valley stands in a special place historically and geographically in relation to jazz. We are the backyard of New York City, arguably the greatest jazz capital in history. By virtue of that, we have a unique cultural resource here in the Valley. And no, you don’t have to go to the City to access it. Our region is home to countless great musicians, and venues are on the upswing.

    I am proud to be a fan of many of the great local players, because I happen to know how much dedication and sacrifice it takes. I’m talking about folks like keyboardists Pete Levin and Marilyn Crispell, bassists Michael Bisio and Rich Syracuse, drummers Jeff Siegel and Jack DeJohnette. Horn players like Joe McPhee, Joe Giardullo, and Eric Person. Oh, and literally all of the jazz faculty members at SUNY New Paltz and Bard University.

    There is a unique flavor of hearing jazz live. This is especially so because jazz is a spontaneous discipline, and the audience is a key part of building on the music’s energy, appreciation, and enjoyment. At its best, it is distinctively untamed and unpredictable. To be there in the presence of the creative process — to witness and indeed interact with the musicians — is a really special thing.  I’d like to encourage you to get out and hear jazz live. Taking part in any sort of live music is a way of building community. It is more than just being entertained or getting to know people. It is a deepening of cultural experience.

    Here is a very personal listing of recommended live jazz in the region:

    Catskill Mountain Pizza (Wednesday night; once a month in Woodstock) has a unique format in which veteran bassist and drummer Rich Syracuse and Jeff Siegel bring in a high-level guest artist each time. There’s a classic jam session feel to a small place where the audience feels like family. catskillmountainpizza.com

    The Falcon in Marlboro provides a unique resource for not just jazz but blues, rock, singer/songwriters and more, and visual arts as well. liveatthefalcon.com  

    The Cafeteria in New Paltz: A Sunday afternoon jam session with excellent local players. cafeteriacoffeehouse.com

    Jazzstock Concert Series at The Senate Garage is a top quality concerts in the heart of Uptown Kingston produced by bassist John Menegon and singer Teri Roiger. jazzstock.com

    Lace Mill in Kingston: World class avant garde bassist Michael Bisio puts on a monthly series not to be missed. (Contact info on Facebook)

    Singularity Music Series in Kingston: A highly creative series launched by the remarkable young guitarist Alvero Domene and Andrea Best. (Contact info on Facebook)

    Lydia’s Café in Stone Ridge: The co-owner is bassist/guitarist Mark Usvolk, who plays and brings in some fine collaborators. lydias-cafe.com

    Jazz at Atlas: Cutting edge performances in a repurposed factory setting in Newburg. (Contact info is on Facebook)

    Elysium Furnace Works: performances by vanguard artists, mostly at the historic Howland Center in Beacon. (Contact info on Facebook)

    Amity Blues Series Red Hook: A remarkable educational effort by Cara Silvernail-Thomson and Richard Thomson, who teach talented players as young as 12 and put on concerts once a month with the student musicians (yes, they are really good) and guest artists. Oh, and they feed you dinner too. (Contact info is on Facebook)

    Last but not least, I’ve started The Jazz Listening Meetup. Listen to concerts and recorded music with fellow jazz lovers! meetup.com/Jazz-Listening-Meetup