ALBANY — At Jennings Landing in Albany on Sept. 9, the 21st annual Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival will present a full day of family-friendly and free music, vendors and activities.
Keith Morales, special events coordinator for the City of Albany Office of Cultural Affairs, reflected recently on the festival’s legacy of high-caliber musical performers, which has included Grammy-winning Samara Joy. He said people can expect more of the same this year.
“I think attendees can most look forward to a diverse and strong musical lineup from the top to bottom,” he said.
More than 20 different vendors will be part of the day of music.
Food vendor Peter Delgado, owner of Gina Foods, said he was excited to be offering festival attendees something new this year – Greek gyros.
“I’m going to be listening to amazing music and at the same time offering fantastic Greek gyros,” he said.
Festivities take place from noon-8 p.m. A presentation of the Henry Johnson Community Service Award Ceremony will take place during the day. The award is bestowed upon a nominated Albany resident who has made meaningful contributions to the community.
Starting the festival at 12:30 p.m. is jazz musician Kevin McNeal and his band BluesWing. Originally from Upstate New York and now residing in New York City, McNeal has been playing in the jazz and blues music scene for decades. From his performance in the HBO show “Boardwalk Empire,” to composing, education and original music, McNeal is recognized throughout the United States and Europe as an innovator in the jazz scene.
At 2 p.m., Ashley Keiko will take the stage. As a musician, composer,and singer-songwriter, her diverse musical talents have led her to study classical piano and alto saxophone and open Keiko Studios. Festival attendees can enjoy Keiko’s original, expressive style that smoothly combines the genres of hip-hop, R&B, pop, and gospel.
At 3:30 p.m., innovative drummer Roni Kaspi will perform. In 2020, Kaspi had a massive break into the music scene as the international touring drummer in the global jazz bass sensation Avishai Cohen trio. Her genre-bending music is a creative, all-embracing meld of alt-pop, soul, world music and electronica.
“We always bring in the top rising jazz artists in the genre, along with one or two already established artists, like the Grammy award-winning Rebirth Brass Band,” said Morales. “That’s what makes the lineup so special. We strive to find the next big jazz artist like Ashley Keiko, Roni Kaspi, and The String Queens, who are on this year’s lineup and on the cusp of breaking out.”
At 5 p.m.,The String Queens will present an authentic, soulful and orchestral sound that seamlessly glides through decades and styles. With a diverse musical repertoire that spans from the Baroque era to the Billboard Top 100 Chart, they guide audiences on a musical journey through time and genres.
The Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band will close out the night of performances at 6:30 p.m. They are a pillar of the New Orleans music scene with their iconic, long-standing presence at the Tuesday night gig at the Maple Leaf Bar. Since their formation in 1983 by the Frazier brothers, the Rebirth Brass Band has melded brass band music, funk, jazz, soul and hip-hop together with their signature style.
“Attendees can look forward to an amazing vibe with great food vendors and an amazing fireworks display following the show over the river,” said Morales.
At 8 p.m., a fireworks show is planned as a dazzling end to the evening of festivities.
In the event of inclement weather, the event will move to the Corning Preserve Boat Launch at Water and Colonie streets. For more information about the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival, visit https://www.albany.org.
This story appeared on page 3 of the September 6, 2023 print edition of the Spot518