A couple of brief rain showers could not dampen the spirits of the audiences taking in many of the outstanding local jazz talents at the Northwest Jazz Festival on Saturday, August 24th. A mix of orchestras, guitar duos, vocalists, and ensembles had people wearing out walking shoes as they mixed among four stages. Some enjoying the tasty foods and drinks of the vendors while listening to jazz.
In all, fifteen local jazz performances took place plus one special guest up from Pittsburgh. JazzBuffalo contributor, photographer Jack Zuff, captured much of the action with his super photography.
The Rising Stars Stage
The NCMEA Niagra County All-County Jazz Ensemble kicked-off the Saturday program with a superb performance. Congratulations to the students, who represented several schools in Niagara County, for their dedication to providing the audience with a great show!
My Cousin Tone’, the popular and entertaining 9-piece ensemble put on a tightly arranged show featuring a mix of jazz classics and standards sung by vocalist Mary McMahon.
The Hot Club of Buffalo, the area’s premier gypsy jazz band, certainly did not disappoint. Delivering the finest gypsy jazz music and encouraging the audience to stay with them during the brief rain.
The evening performance was a collection of the area’s rising stars led by saxophonist Jon Lehning. The Jon Lehning Sextet also included vocalist Alex McArthur. They put on an energetic performance to a receptive audience.
The Frontier House
Located in the middle of the festival, the Frontier House has a constant stream of audiences checking out the jazz music. And, the Greg Millar Quartet sure made them stop. The Buffalo guitar legend and his quartet, including Alec Dube on vibes for great interplay between guitar and vibes, put on an entertaining performance.
The Tim Clarke Soul-Tet, led by one of the area’s top trumpeters, put on a soulful and energetic performance. The jazz soul the group performs, with the driving rhythm of Darryl Washington on drums, had the crowd spellbound!
The Frontier House closed out the schedule with an evening performance by jazz guitar legend Eric Johnson who came up from Pittsburgh. The audience was treated to seeing and hearing a legend perform in the style of an era that included Wes Montgomery. A treat indeed!
The Peace Garden
Two of the area’s finest musicians, George Kane on guitar and Wayne Moose on bass, delivered a tasteful and audience-pleasing performance to kick-off the Saturday Peace Garden program.
The Drew Azzinaro Trio delivered a contemporary jazz performance that included Drew’s fine guitar talents and arranging abilities. One of the best jazz guitarists you will see in the region as he blends classical and contemporary in his repertoire!
The young male vocalist Zach Carr and his Quartet won over the hearts of the audience who like song and music in jazz. It is no wonder why he won the JazzBuffalo Poll for male vocals this past year! For a change of pace, we are going to put a video right here for you to enjoy:
The closing performance for the Peace Garden stage came from one of the area’s unique trio of talented musicians, the French ConeXion. This unique worldly accordion-infused elements of music embedded into jazz is a great example of the diverse modes of jazz that makes our area one of the best for jazz music!
Vocalist Mary McMahon, with two of Buffalo’s greats in Bud Fadale and Rick Strauss, got the music underway with her always fantastic interpretations of the Great American Songbook.
Maria Sebastian Duo, that also features Ron Davis, did their fabulous mix of jazz-infused folk, pop, and standards.
The local rising star vocalist Alex McArthur and her trio gave her audience the always soulful and energetic performance Alex delights audiences with.
The DiCamillo Courtyard stage last performance in the evening brought the dynamic vocalist DeeAnn Dimeo Tompkins and her great supporting ensemble to the festival. Audiences love DeeAnn’s bluesy and soulful concert presentations and this audience was no exception!
Saturday afternoon and early evening provided many of the top jazz talents in the area to put smiles on the faces of the thousands of people who traveled to Lewiston for one of the best jazz festivals in the Northeast region. How lucky we are to have such a varietal richness and depth of local jazz talents in our area!