The Zaccai Curtis Latin Jazz Quintet

Jazz is in a constant state of flux. It feeds off new ideas and innovation to keep the music vital and growing. Those who attended the recent JIGT performance witnessed a beacon of light, a group of emerging musicians led by band leader and pianist Zaccai Curtis--talented composer, arranger and pianist--who is forging new paths while remaining grounded in the traditions of the past.
Sometimes, at the Winery, it’s hard to tell who enjoyed the concert more -- the musicians or the audience. December 2nd was no exception. The quintet was anchored by the superb rhythm section of percussionist Reinaldo de Jesus and drummer Jocelyn Pleasant.  Tivon Pennicott, who has a real understanding of the importance of the "groove," rocked the tenor sax (and, after the performance, he bolted to catch a plane to Paris for his next performance!)  In an unexpected twist, Jonathan Michel, on bass, played the role of percussionist in several of the original pieces performed by the group.

Although these musicians had played with each other many times (and known each other since childhood), it was their premier performance as a group, and it was evident that they were happy to be together and create music that not only entertained, but inspired listeners to think outside the box.

It’s a week past the event, and people are still raving about their performance. The audience included quite a few new jazz fans.  We hope that they will pass the word about this rare opportunity to rub shoulders with the best musicians in the NYC jazz scene right here in their own backyard.

Zaccai advised us to remember the names of the band members...and we will, Zaccai, we will! You are undeniably on your way to the top!

"Thank you! We had so much fun! Thanks again for everything. You and the whole staff are absolutely amazing and we really appreciate your following! They were an amazing audience. Hope to perform there again in the future! Thanks again and talk soon! -Z

The Ingrid Jensen Trio


I always look forward to hearing and seeing trumpeter Ingrid Jensen whenever I am able. Sadly, due to life’s circumstances, I had last heard her live at the Monterey Jazz Festival, now two summers past.                           


So it was indeed an exciting opportunity to be in the same place, same time, at the Clermont Vineyards and Winery for Cheryl Jean’s Jazz in G-Town production to listen to her with her trio. Her mellow tone and distinctive phrasing over the years has reflected her inspiration, Miles Davis, but with her own filigree added. She certainly has staked out a major talent claim on the trumpet.

I had first seen and heard Ingrid over 20 years ago in Sherry Maricle’s all-women jazz orchestra, Diva.  Later in 1999, French friends of mine, with a strong mission to interview female NYC musicians made an English speaking documentary for European TV called “Femmes de Jazz,” (Women of Jazz), and asked me to help produce it and suggest musicians. Ingrid Jensen was one of 20 women in that film, a standout talent then too, along with Rhinebeck resident cellist Akua Dixon, also a former Jazz in G-Town performer. 

On the Thursday before the concert I screened “Femmes de Jazz” for a second time at Germantown’s library, for a very special audience: members of the Germantown High School Jazz Band. We were also able, through the intervention of the band leader/teacher Dan Galliher, and Jim Gibbons, whose children are in the band, to Skype with Ingrid. It was a wonderful Q & A.  Needless to say I was thrilled and so pleased. 

On Saturday, Jensen’s trio included the remarkable and versatile drummer, Matt Wilson, as well as the stirring Gary Versace on Hammond B organ. Each of the 7 or 8 compositions played, proved, once again, how listening to musicians live, creating in the moment, is a breathtaking experience. At the winery, music and talent came together in a shared, both challenging/comfort zone, in a very special intimate environment. One tune, based on the famous Woody Guthrie song, “This Land is My Land…” was transported from the familiar to another reality. So glad I was there to be a part of it!                                                      --Abby London





From T.K. himself:

Bonne jour mes amis.  I was truly blessed to perform a CD release concert for Amour on Dot Time Records in Germantown, NY produced by my dear friend Cheryl Jean on Saturday May 6th with a superb band -- George Coleman, Jr. drums, Essiet Essiet bass, and Zacai Curtis piano.  I met Cheryl thru my departed cousin Rob Rondon and I will always keep Rob in my heart and memory. The vibe in Germantown is always positive and warm and I feel truly grateful to have her family/friends as part of my extended family.  One love -- T.K. Blue Talib Kibwe







Parents and friends of the Germantown Central School Jazz Band gathered in the Hover Room at the Germantown Library to observe the students in a master class led by three area jazz professionals/educators on Sunday, December 18.  After the class, the leaders of the class -- Keith Pray on saxophone, Arthur Falbush on trumpet/trombone, Jon LeRoy on keyboard, and GCS Music Director Dan Galliher on drums -- sat in with the band  and the students got to demonstrate their improvisational skills for the community.  


Freddie Bryant once again filled the winery with complex wondrous passages on his guitar, fingers flying and melodies taking you on flights, this time to Brazil.  With him was pandeiro master Sergio Krakowski.  It was hard to believe that something so simple could be a dynamic solo instrument. Of course Sergio's hands had a lot to do with it. If you weren't there in the audience you would have thought that a large part of the percussion section of a full orchestra was present and playing. Sergio made it very clear that the pandeiro was not a tambourine, altho he never told us what was the difference.  Everyone left the concert curious.  Here's the distinction.

Chanteusse of the evening, Vanessa Falabella was just as lovely as her name. Because she sang in Portuguese, most knew not if she were scatting or singing lyrics, but it didn't matter. During her second appearance on stage she captivated the audience, led it in song, and had people dancing at the back of the room.

It was an exuberant night, and we look forward to the start of the next season of Jazz in GTown concerts.  In the interim, if you can get to the city on November 28, to to  Dizzy's for the release party for Freddie Bryant's new album Monk Restrung.  

This event was made possible (in part) with public funds provided by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program, administered through the Community Arts Grants Program at Greene County Council on the Arts.


Saturday evening, August 27, we enjoyed a fifth fabulous concert put on by the Jazz in GTown Project, a series of concerts produced by jazz lovers and residents of Germantown. This one featured the Francesca Tanksley Trio playing mostly original songs in an idyllic setting -- a vineyard overlooking the Catskills Mountains.

Tanksley, an acclaimed pianist, who has studied composition with jazz legend Jimmy Heath, wowed the crowd with original pieces, including Dance in the Question, Journey Without Distance, and In Grace, the latter a paean to her home in the Hudson River Valley. She also played a gorgeous song, Beatrice, that Sam Rivers wrote for his wife.

Tanksley riveted the audience with a lesson in composing music. After playing Trickster, her variation on a well-known jazz standard, she challenged the crowd to guess the title of the source. When no one came up with the correct answer she showed us how each musical phrase in her piece mirrored phrases from Ellington's Satin Doll. Fascinating stuff!

We can't wait for the next concert in this amazing series.

. . . Mary Cole, Jazz Promoter


This event was made possible (in part) with public funds provided by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program, administered through the Community Arts Grants Program at Greene County Council on the Arts.

Akua Dixon Trio

Freddie Bryant, guitar
Kenny Davis, bass
Akua Dixon, cello

May 7, 2016
Clermont Vineyards & Winery

Akua Dixon’s command of her instrument and audience is indisputable—but where she really shines? It’s her compositions and arrangements. With panoramic views of grapevines, the Hudson River, and the Catskill Mountains, Dixon treated the intimate but packed room at Clermont Vineyards and Winery to original compositions written over the last 40+ years. She included pieces from of her 2012 album,Moving On, her NEA-backed project Afrika! Afrika!, and her upcoming opera based on the story of Marie Laveau, voodoo queen of 19th-century New Orleans.

Dixon is a classically-trained cellist who, over time, immersed herself in jazz and spiritual music, and unlocked the secrets of improvisation. She’s performed and recorded with the likes of Regina Carter, Don Cherry, Dizzy Gillespie, Abbey Lincoln, Carmen McRae, and Archie Shepp. Through experimentation with these artists, she contributed to the rise of string instruments in jazz music.

For her third number, Dixon performed an incredibly nuanced introduction to Afrika! Afrika!, which showcased her unique and soulful approach to the cello. Her warm tone filled the room and it was clear that her fellow musicians were excited by her energy.

Joining Dixon was Freddie Bryant on guitar and Kenny Davis on bass, both brilliant accompanists and soloists. Bryant’s dexterous solos demonstrated his impressive chops, yet he showed more restraint and attention to clarity of ideas than others with similar talent often do. Kenny Davis had the difficult task of keeping the ensemble on time and on track, steering everyone through Dixon’s complex poly-metered compositions. Anyone familiar with Davis’s playing wouldn’t be surprised by the ease with which he handled this, showing that a band doesn’t need drums to inspire the audience to nod along.

Now in its second year, Jazz in GTown has continued to showcase outstanding talent thanks to its sponsors, the dedication of the local community, and the series’s director, Cheryl Jean. The series will continue in the summer. 

This event was made possible (in part) with public funds provided by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program, administered through the Community Arts Grants Program at Greene County Council on the Arts.

Alex Weiss Hills Quartet

Alex Weiss Hills opened his afternoon solo performance of Songs for Late December with Oh Come, Oh Come, Emanuel. He warned us that this concert was most likely not going to be what we expected. He had anticipated his audience well, and gave us a lot more than just Christmas tunes with a jazz beat. Alex chose mostly hymns, and his interpretations were dreamy and complex. It was fascinating to watch him work the keyboard to its potential.

The evening full band performance was sold out. “It was a joy to perform for such an engaged audience. I felt really wonderful energy from the moment we were introduced.” The quartet, composed of Christopher Tordini on bass, J. P. Gilbert on guitar, and Alex Wyatt on drums, performed some songs from the solo concert, but the mood was more driven and upbeat, and those of us who were at both concerts enjoyed comparing his style and arrangements. The musicians shared Alex’s enthusiasm and played with a keen sense of timing and interaction, the melodies, harmonies, and solos flowing seamlessly from one to the other.

Alex’s love of Christmas music started late in his young life, and he was immediately intrigued when Jazz in GTown proposed this concert to him. He saw not only the chance to work his style into the hymns, but also the opportunity to design its poster around an early twentieth century American Christmas card.

Alex Weiss Hills has been studying piano since age five and received a Downbeat Best Student Soloist Award while in high school. He graduated from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in 2006.  For his senior recital he arranged his own compositions for a 16-piece ensemble.  Since 2002 Alex has been performing in NYC as a bandleader and sideman at venues such as Cornelia Street Cafe, Barbes, BAM Cafe Live, The Stone, Smalls, Fat Cat, Rockwood Music Hall, the South Street Seaport, and just this November at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. 

An accomplished virtuosic pianist, Alex finds immense joy in writing and arranging. He arranged and performed on the score for the Sundance 2014 film Listen Up Philip. The score, recorded in one weekend, has been called stunning, warm and reminiscent of the Miles Davis-Gil Evans collaboration Sketches of Spain, and has beenpraised for its intricate orchestration.

Bassist Christopher Tordini and Alex have been playing together since their New School days and they co-led the seven-piece ensemble, Buy My Book, for which they both arranged original compositions. Christopher is an in-demand bassist in NYC where he performs with established jazz icons as well as a diverse range of emerging musicians including Greg Osby, Jeremy Pelt, the Becca Stevens Band, Tyshawn Sorey, George Garzone, Steve Lehman, Jim Black, Chris Speed, and John Hollenbeck.

Drummer Alex Wyatt, another New School musician, has garnered diverse experience playing with jazz ensembles, orchestras, singer-songwriters, and touring Broadway acts. His incredible musicianship and sensitivity shines through in his performance.

Rounding out the group is guitarist J.P. Gilbert.  J.P and Alex are long-time collaborators in such disparate settings as Abacus, the avant-garde jazz/noise/mathematically influenced group, to the americana string band Brambling where Alex performed on accordion. They also toured nationwide together in J.P.’s country band, J.P. & the Gilberts.

Playing the American, English, Scottish, and Irish folk songbooks with Brambling, Alex was exposed to the singing of Anne Briggs and other folk revivalists of the 60s and 70s. Unaccompanied by instruments, Briggs’s crystalline voice demonstrates the timelessness and beauty of simple folk song melodies that have been passed down the generations orally. Alex will play tribute to the folk melodies of traditional holiday songs by setting them at the forefront of his arrangements. Other influences will include Bill Frisell, Brad Mehldau, Wayne Shorter, Nick Drake, Tinariwen, Bert Jansch, and Daniel Lanois.

The TK Blue Quartet

TK Blue, saxophones
Vince Ector, drums
Paul Beaudry, bass
Carlton Holmes, piano

September 20, 2015
Palatine Park, Germantown, NY

TK Blue opened this concert with an exquisite flute rendiiton of his A Single Tear of Remembrance in honor of his cousin and mentor Rob Rondon who passed away just weeks before the concert which he planned. From that moment on the audience of just about 100 were caught in TK and his bandmembers’ spell.  Chuck Stewart, the jazz photographer whose images graced the walls at Jazz in GTown’s first concert returned to Germantown for the performance.

From the original announcement:

The TK Blue Quartet will perform selections from Blue’s suite Follow the North Star and will celebrate John Coltrane’s 89th Birthday

T.K. Blue, on alto and soprano sax,  flute and kalimba, will be performing with band members Vince Ector on drums, Paul Beaudry on bass and Carlton Holmes on piano in Palatine Park at 5 o’clock on Sunday, September 20.

In 2007, Blue received a commission from the NYSCA and Transart Inc. to compose a piece of music dedicated to the early African-American presence in the Hudson Valley area of upstate New York. T.K. chose to write a suite based on the life of Solomon Northup and his book Twelve Years a Slave. This book was made into a film by Steve McQueen (Brad Pitt productions) and won the Oscar for best picture in 2013.

Northup was born in Minerva and as a young man lived and worked in Saratoga Springs.  He was kidnapped in 1841 and published his memoir in 1853.  An archaeological dig led by Christopher Lindner of Bard College at Germantown’s oldest house has revealed that beginning in 1840 generations of an African American family made it their home.

TK Blue excels as a performer, composer, arranger, clinician and teacher.  He has played with a long list of international artists too numerous to list–Randy Weston, Don Cherry Abdullah Ibrahim, Sam Rivers Archie Shepp, Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby McFerrin, Benny Powel, Paquito D’Rivers, to name a few.

Jessica Sendra of Jazz Times Magazine wrote in 2007:
. . . Follow the North Star takes a very dark chapter in American history and recounts it with astounding beauty and grace. . . There are hints of both Pharaoh Sanders and Yusef Lateef in Blue’s saxophone, flute and kalimba work, and as always his deep-rooted love of African jazz shines through.


Joe Locke

Our First Concert
Joe Locke on Vibes
Chuck Stewart Exhibition

Here’s what Chronogram said before our concert.

Here’s what Nippertown said after our concert.

Here’s what Joe sounds like!

Thank you to everyone who helped make our concert a success, including:
Tom Bellino, Planet Arts
Ken Cooke
Joel Craig, Don Westmore and the entire Town Board
Corrine Curry, ArtSpace
Tina DeBellgarde
Sara Gaskin and Nick Suarez, Gaskins Restaurant
Jazz in GTown Committee Members
Martin Lueck, Central House
Teresa Repko, Bank of Greene County
Rob Rondon
Susan Seidel
Lauraye Tate
Eve Thoreau, Eve’s International