Call it homecoming weekend — when local heroes moe. and Stefon Harris come home to play, and when Brian Patneaude sends new music out into the world by playing a gig here at home.
Mighty moe. plays the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave., at N. Pearl St., Albany) on Saturday, headlining in a venue they aspired to play while living off Western Avenue here in the mid-1990s and playing clubs and festivals.
They haven’t changed their songs-and-improvisation approach much in 20 years. They simply haven’t had to. Moe. stands out among jam bands because they write the best songs and play as well as anyone. As drummer Vinnie Amico said in an interview several years ago, “I just think we continually get better musically. We get more mature.”
He said: “We’ll have some riffs that we’ll tool with, improv-wise, and then sometimes we’ll come into a writing session and somebody will say ‘Remember this jam we were playing?’ Most of it is ideas that come out as songs.
“When we go into a writing session, someone goes ‘I’ve got this idea’ and we start it and then we sort of morph it and morph it and morph it until we’re comfortable with it as being a good song.”
They trust the songs on their new 10th studio album, “What Happened to the LA LAs,” so much that they kept most to just four or five minutes and collaborated with producer John Travis in shaping and choosing them, a departure for the famously do-it-ourselves crew. “American Songwriter” rated it four stars (of five) and “Relix” calls the album “pure moe. with plenty of the ferocious guitar riffs, intricate rhythms and allegorical lyrics that fans have come to expect.”
Show time for moe. is 8 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 on Saturday. Phone 465-3334 or visit www.palacealbany.com.
But wait, there’s more! After moe.’s Palace gig, moe. drummer Vinnie Amico and moe. guitarist Al Schnier head down to Red Square (388 Broadway, Albany) to play another show, as Floodwood with mandolinist Jay Barady, violinist Nick Piccininni and bassist Zachary Fleitz. Show time is 8 p.m. when Eastbound Jesus opens. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 on Saturday. Phone 465-0444 or visit www.redsquarealbany.com.
Patneaude and company
Also on Saturday, saxophonist-composer Brian Patneaude leads his quartet into the Massry Center for the Arts (1002 Western Ave., Albany) on the College of Saint Rose campus in a celebration of their new album “All Around Us.”
Like moe., Patneaude and company — pianist David Caldwell-Mason, bassist Mike DelPrete and drummer Danny Whelchel — get better musically. The album is the best in Patneaude’s decade-long career, with songs drawn from life and given life by this crisp and seasoned ensemble.
Patneaude wrote the songs over the past year, recorded them over just two days at Cotton Hill Studios in Albany last October with fan financing through Kickstarter and engineer Ace Parkhust turning in an ace job of capturing the quartet’s energy, smarts and commitment to the music.
“When I wrote these tunes, I didn’t really have a blueprint for anything other than trying to capture the essence of the inspiration behind each one,” he said Tuesday. “This is the first time I’ve ever recorded with acoustic piano and no guitar.”
They may not have time to play the whole album at the Massry Center on Saturday: “We tend to stretch out on the songs when we play them live, so we probably won’t be able to play everything from the new album,” he said. “But definitely a good chunk of it.”
Patneaude added: “The songs continue to evolve every time we play them. Believe it or not, this will be only the second time the four of us have played together since the recording session in October. I miss Sunday nights at Justin’s!” — a longtime regular gig for the quartet.
Show time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Phone 337-4871 or visit www.strose.edu/eventpay.
The Brian Patneaude Duo plays One Caroline St. on March 9 and March 24, and the Brian Patneaude Trio plays The Stockade Inn on March 30. Also watch for Patneaude on the bandstand with Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra, Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble and Michael Benedict’s Bopitude. And you can catch him on the radio tonight at 9 p.m. on WEXT (97.7 FM), on Friday at 4:30 p.m. on WBCR 97.7 FM Berkshire Community Radio’s “The Splatto Festival with Paul Rapp” (online only, most places) and on Saturday at 10 a.m. with Bill McCann on WCDB (90.9 FM).
Harris back in town
Vibraphonist Stefon Harris — graduate of Albany High School and the Empire State Youth Orchestra — returns here on Sunday to play “The Music of Stevie Wonder” with the SFJAZZ Collective at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). He’s in very good company as he returns to one of the various hometown venues he’s played since leaving here to train at the Manhattan School of Music. (He’s led his own band at The Egg and premiered his ambitious “The Grand Unification Theory” at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.)
Harris plays vibraphone and marimba with the SFJAZZ Collective, with alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, trumpeter Avishai Cohen (brother of reed player Anat Cohen, who played The Egg recently), trombonist Robin Eubanks, pianist Edward Simon, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland (who played with Charles Lloyd at The Egg several seasons ago.)
These guys and the audience should have a great time: Stevie Wonder’s tunes have wonderful melodies, interesting chord changes and either gentle or propulsive rhythms — terrific raw material for improvising.
Show time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28. Phone 473-1845 or visit www.theegg.org.
But wait; there’s more! At 4:30 p.m. Sunday, the SFJAZZ Collective will open its sound check and rehearsal to the public, and they’ll answer questions. There’s no admission charge to this behind-the-performance event.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at firstname.lastname@example.org.