Hudson Valley Jazz Fest Turns 5
Posted 6/16/2014

The Hudson Valley Jazz Festival, which takes place only an hour from the George Washington Bridge, has become a novel and irresistible cultural alternative to the standard New York City jazz festival.

This year marks its fifth anniversary, so festival founder-director Steve Rubin set his sights high, beefing up the fest’s mission to highlight local talent alongside national greats while appealing to tourists and raising the collective arts profile of the region.

From Aug. 14–17, the festival will present a range of artists, including bassist Steve Swallow, drummer Adam Nussbaum, saxophonist-flutist Eric Perso, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and vocalist Judi Silvano, among others.

In a recent interview with DownBeat, Rubin discussed the origin of the festival: “It’s winter 2009, my wife and I are at a local party with a good assortment of musicians. We’re four years living in Warwick, natives of New York City, and it occurs to me, ‘Hey, why isn’t there a jazz festival event here?’ So, August 2010 rolls around and it’s the Warwick [Hudson] Valley Jazz Festival: a four-day festival. A local magazine [Orange Magazine] does an eight-page spread on us, the Village Voice gives us a write-up. In 2011 it repeats and the village of Warwick is digging it. Then I charge ahead, aggressively pushing an already existing live-music community into getting several places to present live jazz.”

Rubin is proud of the lineups the fest has presented over the years. “By 2012, we’d already had Mark Egan, Don Braden, Arturo O’Farrill, Marcus Gilmore and Bobby Sanabria,” he recalled. “Not to mention members from the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra alongside a deep bench of local players.”

Saxophonist Dave Liebman and guitarists John Abercrombie and Bucky Pizzarelli were among the top-tier talent who performed at the festival last year.

Rubin, a respectable drummer and bandleader in his own right, wanted this year’s festival to expand to include additional musicians and towns. “As thoughts for a new season came into focus late last fall, I start seeing 2014 as a celebration of the greater community that makes it all happen,” he said.

Among the Hudson Valley venues participating will be the Seligmann Center in Chester, Village Billiards in Warwick and The Falcon in Marlboro.

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, which performs on Monday nights at the Village Vanguard in New York City, will present a concert at The Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Aug 16.

The Pine Island Chamber of Commerce will present “Jazz and Art in The Park” with Person and Mehta4, along with student musicians and an array of visual arts and artists. Another highlight will be “Women of The Hudson Valley in Jazz,” featuring Kaitlyn Faye, Lydia Pidlusky, Judi Silvano and Gabriele Tranchina.

Overall, there will be 15 to 18 free or moderately priced shows. Concerts will be presented in parks, restaurant patios, theaters, bars and arts centers.

Rubin wants to build on the region’s musical legacy. “The Hudson Valley region is rich with legends,” he noted. “Sonny Rollins, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Jimmy Cobb, Pat Metheny and Joe Lovano all come to mind. Our goal remains to raise the profile of local artists alongside the great legends.”

More information is posted at hudsonvalleyjazzfest.org.

John Ephland


Adam Nussbaum is among the performers at this year’s Hudson Valley Jazz Festival. (Photo: Neil Swanson)

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