Jazz ‘Gals’ to play Renaissance Hall

Concert at church will be followed by jam session

The Swingtime Jazz Society will present The Gals Who Play Jazz in concert starting at 4 p.m. Sunday at Renaissance Hall, 820 Eastern Ave. in Schenectady. The performance will be followed by a one-hour jam session from 6 to 7 p.m., during which musicians in the audience will be invited to sit in.

The Gals Who Play Jazz was formed by pianist Peg Delaney, vocalist Patti Melita and bassist Linda Ellen Brown to create a restrospective program for Women’s History Month, showcasing the contributions of female composers and musicians of the Jazz Era. The group has performed at Jazz on Jay and for the Albany Musicians Union Jazz Appreciation Month event.

For this concert, the group will include saxophonist Kristina Johnson and drummer Alyssa Falk-Verheyn.

Renaissance Hall is both a restaurant and music venue in the former St. Mary’s Church. Owner Sandy Vardine is devoted to preserving art and historic buildings, as well as presenting music.

Since January, such local performers as the Joey Thomas Big Band, drummer Cliff Brucker and Alex Torres and the Latin Kings have been regulars at the venue.

“We don’t encourage the arts and are losing the creative process,” Vardine said. “To me, music is the thing that we’re all about.” She is still building an audience. “Once people find us, they’ll come back,” she said. “I want everybody to make it their home.”

The Swingtime Jazz Society also provides an annual scholarship for student musicians who are heading to college in the fall. The scholarship is named for the late Capital Region pianist Lee Shaw. This year, three recipients have been chosen, and they will receive their awards at this concert.

Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for students. Reservations can be made by calling Swingtime member Ralph Rosenthal at 423-9343 or emailing him at [email protected]


Peg Delany draws her music from American, Latin and Brazilian idioms. Her regular trio features her husband, Bill, on bass and drummer-vocalist Earl Davis. She is a two-time recipient of the New York State Council on the Arts Meet the Composer grant and has authored a book of transcriptions of solos by baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola.

Linda Ellen Brown leads her own Linda Brown Jazz Project and can be heard on Michael Benedict’s 2006 CD “The New Beat.” She holds a bachelor’s degree in arts management from Sage College and a master’s in public administration from the University Albany. She is a member of Musicians Union Local 14.

Patti Melita is known for her smooth renditions of swing tunes specifically suited for dancing, exemplified on her CD “Swing It!” She was a longtime co-director of the Dance Flurry, leads her own band, Patti-O and the Hip Hooligans, and is treasurer of the Swingtime Jazz Society.

Kristina Johnson holds a master’s degree in music education from The College of Saint Rose. She directs the music performance groups and teaches music at SUNY Cobleskill. She has been playing saxophone for several decades and has been the lead alto saxophonist for the Joey Thomas Big Band for the past 18 years.

Alyssa Falk-Verheyn is a drummer, percussionist, educator, clinician and composer. She has performed at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. She has received degrees in percussion and performance from the Crane School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. She teaches orchestra in the Queensbury School District.

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