Jukebox: Jazz is in the spotlight from Lake George to Schenectady

Before the last of three big jazz weekends ends, another jazz series starts.

Before the last of three big jazz weekends ends, another jazz series starts.

The Lake George Jazz Weekend brings beats, brass, sass and the powerful piano of local superwoman Lee Shaw to Shepard Park (Canada Street, Lake George) on Saturday and Sunday. Tonight’s show by Bill Charlap is more than just an appetizer for this feast: It kicks off the new A Place for Jazz season at the Whisperdome of the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady (1221 Wendell Ave.).

Last heard here playing solo, then accompanying his mother, singer Sandy Stewart, at The Egg, Charlap plays tonight with bassist Sean Smith and drummer Kenny Washington. It’s a tight trio, terrific on originals and standards, as in their Gershwin album “The American Soul.” Earlier this year, they opened for rockers Steely Dan. Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Phone 393-4011 or visit www.aplaceforjazz.org.

Talented lineup

Saturday’s Lake George Jazz Weekend 1 to 6 p.m. lineup includes singer

Marilyn Maye with pianist Ted Firth’s Trio; trombonist Roswell Rudd; and percussionist Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers. Then steel pan player Andy Narrel plays at 8 p.m., followed by fireworks over the lake.

Stephen Holden reported in the Times that Maye’s Saturday show in New York affirmed “there is life after heartbreak,” likening it to immersion in “a stinging mixture of salty tears and gin.”

Hailed as the most titanic trombonist of the late 20th century for his free-jazz excursions spanning earthy Dixieland to outer space, Rudd’s band Shout packs two more trombonists and a tuba-powered rhythm section. Pucho puts a Latin jazz spin on pop songs, with congas, bongos and timbales. Narrel widened the horizons of steel pan drums far beyond the Caribbean, playing with a pantheon of jazz, rock and pop stars.

On Sunday, it’s Lee Shaw, drummer Cindy Blackman, and the 10-piece Either/Orchestra.

Shaw and her trio can raise the roof at uptempos and plumb the depths with ballads. Sitting 5 feet from Cindy Blackman’s drumkit at the Van Dyck was one of the most intense percussive displays I’ve heard — like sitting inside a stereo operated by Max Roach, Tony Williams and Billy Cobham. The Either/Orchestra — two trumpets, three saxes, trombone, piano, bass, drums and congas — can whip up “supple Latin jazz, sinewy blues, sly funk and slippery world-beat rhythms,” reports The Washington Post.

For more information on the Lake George Jazz Weekend, phone 668-2616 or visit www.lakegeorgearts.org.

Hispanic heritage

The Cuban big band Tiempo Libre headlines Saturday’s Hannaford Hispanic Heritage Celebration, the last show this season at Albany’s Empire State Plaza. When the seven players and singers of Tiempo Libre brought their Conservatory skills and forbidden love of American music from Cuba to Miami, they blended Cuban timba (jazzy dance music) and son (romantic song) with what they heard on the radio.

It’s a sizzling and seductive brew on their new album “What You’ve Been Waiting For” — immodestly named, maybe, but they deliver. They had better be on their game on Saturday, or Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra will take over the show. Twelve members strong and armed with Torres’ original salsa, merengue and jazz numbers, they are formidable. Los Hermanos Mariachi will start this free show at 3 p.m., dressed in Mexican charro finery and playing guitars, strings and brass to ignite an international party mood.

For more information, phone 877-659-4ESP or visit www.empirestateplaza.org

Troubadour Nights

Lori McKenna and Mary Gauthier play tonight at 8 p.m. at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Based in the Boston area, they’re friends making music from the hearts of very different lives.

McKenna is the mother of five children and five albums, and tours in a soccer-mom van. The children are 3 to 18, and Nashville giants Tim McGraw and Byron Gallimore produced her new album “Unglamorous.”

Gauthier wrote her first song at 35 after drug-troubled years, college and running a Boston Cajun restaurant, Dixie Kitchen, also the name of her debut album. Four more highly honored albums have followed, and Gauthier has impressed in previous opening slots at The Egg. Admission is $22. Phone 473-1845 or visit www.theegg.org.

Presence on video

Dar Williams and Shawn Mullins — playing on Saturday at 8 p.m. at The Egg — prove their performing chops on video. Williams’ “Live at the Bearsville Theater” recently sparkled on WMHT, while Mullins will release “Live at the Variety Playhouse” on DVD next month. A sometime member of Cry, Cry, Cry (with Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky) and a Northampton resident, Williams goes deep with writing and singing onstage and on her dozen or so albums. “Promised Land” came out Wednesday. Mullins plays both solo and with a rock band, and fantastic singer Francine Reed on one encore, on “Live at the Variety Playhouse” before a hometown (Atlanta) crowd, wrapping his strong voice around diarylike or character-driven songs. He has released as many albums and songs as Williams and has an album due in March. Admission is $24.

Phillips at WAMC

Sam Phillips sings on Sunday at 8 p.m. at the Linda Norris Auditorium at the WAMC Performing Arts Studio (339 Central Ave., Albany). Once a harmony singer on Christian-rock albums, Phillips may be best known for supplying the ethereal background breathy vocals on “Gilmore Girls.” A formidable singer, songwriter and guitarist, Phillips and her band will probably focus on her new “Don’t Do Anything” album on Sunday. Admission is $25. Phone 465-5233 ext. 4 or visit www.wamcarts.org.

Liberation songs

Chiwoniso sings tonight at 7 p.m. at the Sanctuary for Independent Media (3361 Sixth Ave., Troy), with fellow Zimbabweans and South Africans, and liberation songs from her “Rebel Woman” album. Admission is $10, free for those under 16. Phone 272-2390 or visit www.thesanctuaryforindependentmedia.org.

Silly and serious

Funny folksters Carla Ulbrich, George Wurzbach (he’s one-third of the group Modern Man) and Mike Agranoff sing silly songs and straight ones tonight at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs). Ulbrich, for example, may ask the musical question “What If Your Butt Was Gone?” Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $3. Phone 583-0022 or visit www.caffelena.org.

A season to rock

“The Big Autumn Rock Show” brings Interstate Johnson, Charmboy, Conspicuous Study Hall Boners, the Disposable Rocket Band and Scientific Maps to Red Square (388 Broadway, Albany) tonight, starting at 10 p.m. Admission is $7. Phone 465-0444.

Big shows

But the really big shows hit the Altamont Fairgrounds and the Times Union Center on Saturday.

The SoCo Music Experience at the fairgrounds (Route 146, Altamont) features Justice, MGMT, Lotus, the Whigs, the Heartless Bastards, the Erotics, Ska Dee, Disasters of Hollywood, Severe Severe and the Crayons — for free — starting at 2 p.m. Age 21 and up only.

The Back 2 School Extravaganza ’08 presents 50 Cent, Ne-Yo, Keyshia Cole, Colby Odonis, DJ Clue and others at the Times Union Center (51 S. Pearl St., Albany). Tickets are $276, $176, $86 and $66. Phone 800-30-EVENT or visit www.timesunioncenter-albany.com.

Categories: Life and Arts

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