On a day calling for global peace, the 5th Annual International Jazz Day Celebration was a welcomed homecoming, an exhibit of master musicianship, and a glimpse into the future all rolled in one. The night that took place on Saturday, April 30th served as a special introduction of the gifted young jazz vocalist, Anaïs Reno. A jazz student at Purchase University under the tutelage of jazz pianist Pete Malinverni, Reno displayed the command of a seasoned veteran. To the delight of the nearly 200 people in the audience, she enthralled as the evening progressed.
Two songs, in particular, showcased her blessed gifts of range, the richness of tone, and ability to story-tell songs by composers like Ellington and Strayhorn. Her performance of the Thelonious Monk tune, Round Midnight, showcased her incredible range and an instrumental quality to her vocals. The treatment of Hoagy Carmichael’s classic standard, Stardust, showed her ability to convey emotions with a maturity beyond her years.
Reno was accompanied by two master musicians in Pete Malinverni and violinist Julie Kurtzman. They had the opportunity to perform as the formidable duo they are and as was made evident in their acclaimed album, Candlelight. A delight for the audience to hear beautiful tango-infused music in their song choices. Kurtzman’s exquisite violin prompted the audience to a standing ovation on more than one occasion.
The Niagara Falls-born and New York City-based Pete Malinverni has concerto-like energy to jazz piano performance. One of the top jazz pianists in the world today, his laser-like focus on evoking sounds from 88 keys is riveting. On this night, his engaging banter with the audience and ability to put Reno at ease made this one special homecoming. And no doubt, a proud professor watching a student evolving before our eyes.
A truly memorable International Jazz Day celebration. One that offered a glimpse of a bright future for a young jazz vocalist embarking on a journey to master her craft. At the same time, giving a good reason for the audience to leave at the end knowing that the future of jazz is in good hands.
(Our 2021 JazzBuffalo Poll Jazz Crusader of the Year winner, photographer Jack Zuff was present. Once again, capturing the beauty of the night and performances through his master eye. Enjoy the Jack Zuff gallery!)