Aug. 14--NEW HAVEN -- The New Haven Jazz Festival, kicked off in a tasty flourish two weeks ago by the Brubeck Brothers and friends on the Green, returns to high gear this weekend with another Saturday Green concert and a series of jazzy brunches, dinner performances and post-dinner sets around the city.
Feedback from the Brubeck concert, which was preceded by a performance by a sextet of musicians from the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, was "fabulous," says Craig O'Connell of host/organizers Jazz Haven. Despite rain earlier in the day Aug. 9 and concerns about the weather, "turnout was better than could be expected," and the Wilton-based Brubeck boys played later than scheduled, as more and more folks came by to check it out.
So what's the deal for Saturday's free concert No. 2 on the Green?
Well, people love to see young people get into the action, so at 4:30 p.m. folks can catch the High School in the Community Jazz Band on the big stage. The 5:30 p.m. jazz will be provided by the Mike DiRubbo Quintet, followed by Latin-style jazz group Ali Bello & The Sweet Wire Band at 6:45 p.m. and headliners Nat Reeves Quartet featuring the venerable Harold Mabern at 8.
(O'Connell says there's talk that "the quartet might actually morph into a quintet with the addition of trumpeter Josh Bruneau.")
Bassist Nat Reeves, who lives in Hartford and teaches at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford, performs internationally with a number of jazz artists. Mabern, a "hard-bop" and "post-bop" pianist, "is just an amazing guy (who has) been around since the '50s-'60s," said O'Connell.
The breadth of the expanded jazz festival -- 50 bands, 30 concerts, 20 venues -- is evident in the details of a 10-day span of restaurant-and-tavern music starting tonight and running through Aug. 24. You can take in the Kris Jensen Quintet at Cafe Nine tonight; the Ben Wolfe Trio at The Owl Shop Saturday night; the Jake Epstein Quartet at 9th Note Tuesday; the Matt Oestreicher Quartet at 116 Crown the same night; the Monk Family & Friends at Kelly's Gastro Pub on Aug. 22; and the Brian Butler Quartet at Lucky Chao's a night later.
For a list of Jazz Week restaurant/bar gigs and tickets, see JazzHaven.org.
After a budget-forced cancellation in 2008, nonprofit Jazz Haven says each of the last three years of the festival has seen a major expansion in the festival's scope -- encouraged this year by the administration of Mayor Toni Harp.
And Saturday's concert on the New Haven Green also will feature The C.H.A.I.N. Fund's BBQ fundraiser, a group that assists cancer patients who are undergoing strenuous cancer treatments that temporarily prevent them from working.
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