JazzTracks Volume 1: Northwest Jazz Festival Performers

Elio Villafranca

Today, JazzBuffalo presents the first article and volume of JazzTracks.  Periodically, JazzBuffalo will offer insight into jazz tracks from jazz artists and jazz albums.  We will look at tunes from the past, visiting jazz artists, local jazz artists, recent releases, and certain styles of jazz.  In this first volume, we take a look at some of the artists who will be performing at the Northwest Jazz Festival in Lewiston, NY on Friday, August 24th and Saturday, August 25th.

The Source – Benny Green – “Blues Minor”

A great trio album where Green shines and the influence of the years with Art Blakely and the Jazz Messengers comes to life on this tune.  Green will be performing with vocalist Veronica Swift and will have Kenny Washington, who is on this album, with him on Friday, August 24th on the Main Stage.

Elio Villafranca – Caribbean Tinge – “Flowers by the Dry River”

This live recording at Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center brings together a star-powered ensemble.  What shines is the confluence of classical, Caribbean, and Cuban musical elements used by Villafranca in his compositions and arrangements.  This tune shows why he is earning the reference to the eloquence and compositional talents of a Duke Ellington.  See Elio Villafranca and the Jass Syncopators on Saturday night, August 25th at 8:30 pm.

Christopher Bakriges Quartet – Clear & Present – “Door of No Return”

This is simply a gorgeous album.  The combination of vibes and piano is beautiful and star performers such as Avery Sharpe and Jay Hoggard really mesh well.  This tune begins with the bass of Avery Sharpe and delivers.  A trio version of this group will open the festival at 5:45 pm on Friday, August 24th.

Nick Finzer – Here & Now – “We The People” 

This tune, by the Downbeat Rising Star, became somewhat of an anthem during a turbulent political year.  It does, however, demonstrates the composition and arrangements talents of Nick Finzer and this ensemble appearing at the festival.  A bright future ahead as his new album, No Arrival, displays.  See the Nick Finzer Quintet on Saturday, August 25th at 2:30 pm.

Emmet Cohen – Master Legacy Series Featuring Ron Carter – “Joshua”

Cohen shines mightly on this live recording and raises his level of musicianship to meet the master bassist, Ron Carter.  They (including Evan Sherman on drums) perform this classic tune magnificently.  The Emmet Cohen Trio will be performing on Saturday, August 25th at 5:45 pm.

Eric Johnson – Makin’ Whoopie – “Makin’ Whoopie”

Eric Johnson, from Pittsburgh, is one of the remaining jazz guitarists playing in the style of the late Wes Montgomery.  A long history of playing with many of the greats.  He will be on the Frontier House Stage as the closing performance on Saturday, August 25th.  Check out “Makin Whoopie”.

Paul Hage Mirage -Dynamics – “Catwalk”

We are fortunate in this region to have unique music consisting of international flavors.  One such band is Paul Hage Mirage band and their one-of-a-kind Mediterranean jazz.  This tune will give you a peek into their infectious rhythms and performances.  Find them on the Rising Stars stage Friday night.

Charles Earland with Greg Millar – Intensity – “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”

Greg Millar, the Buffalo jazz guitar legend, played on the famous Charles Earland album “Intensity”.  The last recording of trumpeter Lee Morgan in 1972.  Millar’s guitar playing is special on this recording and it continues to be special whenever he plays today.  Catch him on the Frontier House Stage when he opens on Saturday, August 25th at 12:30 pm.

As my friend Dawn Berry-Walker says – “Educate Your Ear, Listen To Jazz”

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