Outdoor live jazz has been a tradition in the village of Stony Brook with the old Dogwood Hollow Amphitheater hosting legends like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman back in the ’50s and ’60s. Today, that legacy continues with The Jazz Loft’s 6th annual Harbor Jazz Festival from Sept. 22-25 after last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic.
“It feels good to be doing what we are used to doing,” says Tom Manuel, president and founder of The Jazz Loft. “I think people have this newfound appreciation for the music after it was silenced for such a lengthy period.”
This celebration will begin with limited capacity indoor concerts at The Jazz Loft during the week.
“Normally our seating upstairs is just over 100, but we are limiting it to 65,” says Manuel. “We will be adhering to the 6-foot social distancing and we are requiring that all our guests wear masks unless they are seated.”
On opening night Wednesday, Sept. 22, the event kicks off with a jam session hosted by the Keenan Zach Trio as well as the unveiling of a new art exhibit by jazz-inspired artist Vincent Quatroche Sr.
The next night, Thursday, Sept. 23, local 17-piece big band The Interplay Jazz Orchestra pays tribute to Blue Note Records with two sets of hard bop style jazz.
THE EMMET COHEN TRIO — FRIDAY
Pianist Emmet Cohen will tickle the ivories with his trio on Friday, Sept. 24. for his Jazz Loft debut.
“The beautiful thing about jazz is, the music really takes on a life of its own,” says Cohen, 31. “A range of emotions impacts the music from how we are feeling that day to what the weather is like then we come up with something relevant for that moment.”
FREE FOR ALL SATURDAY
The festival culminates with an all-day outdoor free jazz concert at the Stony Brook Village Green on Saturday, Sept. 25.
“Because of the horrible year and a half everyone has endured, we decided to make Saturday’s outdoor event free to the public,” says Manuel. “There will be some seating provided but people can bring their lawn chairs and spread out.”
Here are the three groups that will be performing:
Guitarist Sheryl Bailey will trade licks with her trio plus guest saxophonist Nicole Glover in her first show since the pandemic hit.
“The last gig we did was at Manhattan’s Zinc Bar in February 2020 so the Harbor Jazz Festival will be our first time back on stage,” says Bailey. “I’m really excited about it. We hope to leave people feeling happy and more connected to life.”
Vibraphonist Joel Ross grew up on a steady diet of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. He has studied his instrument for 16 years and is a rising star on the jazz scene at the age of 26.
“The band doesn’t plan a setlist beforehand. We just start and figure it out together,” says Ross. “The fun we get out of it is having to be so in tune with each other in order to function as a working unit.”
- CHARLIE APICELLA & IRON CITY
Guitarist Charlie Apicella & Iron City will close out the festival with featured vocalist Madame Pat Tandy, who will mix blues, soul and jazz standards.
“We are primarily concerned with playing feels or what some people call ‘the groove.’ It’s the most exciting element of all music,” says Apicella. “Our name ‘Iron City’ has the implication of a very solid groove — that’s the iron the city is built on.”
6th ANNUAL HARBOR JAZZ FESTIVAL
WHEN | WHERE 6 p.m. Wednesday, 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday at The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Avenue in Stony Brook; 1 p.m. Saturday at the Stony Brook Village Green at 111 Main Street in Stony Brook
INFO 631-751-1895, thejazzloft.org
ADMISSION Wednesday: $10, Thursday: $30 adult, $25 senior and $20 student, Friday: $35 adult, $30 senior and $25 student and Saturday: Free (but order tickets for seating space); rain or shine.