Sunday, July 31, 2016

Live Music: Litchfield Jazz Fest + The Side Door

Bassist and composer Mario Pavone has been a presence on the Connecticut, New York and International music scene of over five decades. This weekend's Litchfield Jazz Festival (8/6-7), now celebrating 21 years, is dedicated to the Waterbury native, long-time member of the teaching faculty at the Litchfield Jazz Camp.

The Festival lineup has a definite local feel, with numerous CT natives plus graduates as well as staff members of the Jazz Camp as headliners.  The opening act at 12 noon on Saturday is the Andrew Hadro Quintet with Tony Malaby (tenor sax) and Mr. Pavone, his only scheduled performance of the weekend. Other performers with state connections include drummer Richie Barshay (W. Hartford) and his Trio with Bloomfield native Jimmy Greene (their set is at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday), vocalist/pianist Nicole Zuraitis (Waterbury) air Dave Stryker (4:45 p.m. on Saturday) and Festival closers Luques & Zaccai Curtis (bass and piano, born in Hartford) with New Orleans-native alto saxophonist Donald Harrison (Sunday 6:15 p.m.)

Other performers include pianist Emmet Cohen's Trio with saxophone legend Jimmy Heath (pictured left, 4:45 on Sunday), saxophonist Albert Rivera's "Back At It" band with guitarist Paul Bollenback (Saturday at 3:30 p.m.), bassist Daryl Johns' Trio with dad Steve on drums and pianist Orrin Evans (Saturday at 7:30), the Big Bass Blowout with bassist Avery Sharpe and drummer Matt Wilson plus four young bassists (South African native Zwe Le-Pere, Waterbury native Jonathan Michel, Hartford native Emma Adomeit, and Sean Peatland - Sunday at 12:30.) Finally, the Litchfield Jazz Orchestra, led by Don Braden (tenor sax and director) ad with am impressive cast of musicians(check it here), play a tribute to Earth, Wind, & Fire at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday.

The easiest way to get tickets is to go to and follow the links.  You can also find directions to the Festival site at the Goshen Fairgrounds and a whole lot more.

The folks at The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme are back from the 2016 Newport Jazz Festival and have an exciting weekend planned for CT jazz fans.  On Friday night (8/05), vocalist Thana Alexander returns to the venue with her quintet known as the Thana Alexander Project.  Ms. Alexander, a native of Croatia, has recorded with guitarist Gene Ess and percussionist/drummer Antonio Sanchez. She first appeared at The Side Door around the time her debut album "Ode To Heroes" (Harmonia Mundi/ Jazz Village) released (early 2014) and now she returns with her own group.  The ensemble includes Ben Flocks (saxophones), Eden Ladin (piano), Noam Wiesenberg (bass), and Peter Kronrief (drums).

The Project takes the stage at 8:30 p.m.  For more information, go to

Here's Ms. Alexa in 2015 with Flocks on sax:

On Saturday, The Door opens for the Dominick Farinacci Quintet.  The trumpeter, a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City, was named by Wynton Marsalis first Global Ambassador of Jazz at Lincoln Center, traveling to the Middle East in association with the Cleveland Clinic.  Newly signed to Mack Avenue Records after releasing eight albums on the Japanese M + I label and on E1 Music.  The new album, "Short Stories", was produced by Tommy LaPuma and has received glowing reviews.

Joining him on the stage will be Adam Birnbaum (piano), Josh Hari (bass), Quincy Phillips (drums), and Keita Ogawa (percussion). Their sets will feature a lot of originals as well as smartly done arrangements of standards and the occasional "pop" song (Farinacci does a wonderful reading of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love"). The door opens at 7:30 p.m. and the music starts an hour later. Call 860-434-0886 for reservations.

You should check the trumpeter's TEDMED Talk at and find out more about his music at

Here's a live version of "Doha Blues" from the new recording:

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