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Bard Fisher Center and Catskill Jazz Factory Present Celebrating 100 Years of Jazz on Saturday, May 13th

The Music Continues with “Jazz Through the Looking Glass” Series Slated for SummerScape Spiegeltent 2017

Eleanor Davis
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Join internationally acclaimed musicians for a celebration of the 100th anniversary of a great American art form, as the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College and Catskill Jazz Factory present Celebrating 100 Years of Jazz. The performance takes place on Saturday, May 13th at 8 p.m in the Sosnoff Theater, with a pre-performance talk at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-50; purchase three or more tickets and save 30%. A gala benefit ticket is also available for $100 and includes a pre-performance reception with the artists; the proceeds support future Catskill Jazz Factory programs and community outreach initiatives. Tickets and additional information are available at or by calling the box office at 845-758-7900.
To mark the centennial of the first jazz recording in 1917, trombonist Chris Washburne leads an international group of all-stars in a celebration of the roots and influences of jazz, from traditional folk songs to the music of pioneers such as Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Bessie Smith. Featuring a dynamic ensemble including master clarinetist Evan Christopher; vocalists Sarah Elizabeth Charles, Martina DaSilva and Vuyo Sotashe; pianists André Mehmari and Dan Tepfer; trumpeter Dominick Farinacci; and saxophonist Caleb Curtis. The program features a pre-performance talk 7 p.m., “Looking Back: The Global Roots of Jazz,” in which Washburne, bandleader and associate professor of music at Columbia University, will deliver an illuminating talk on the origins, global roots, and influences of the jazz genre. 


Tour five decades of jazz in a series of Thursday evening concerts, July13th   through August 10th at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and up; save 25% by subscribing to all five Catskill Jazz Factory performances in the Spiegeltent. Individual and series tickets are on sale now at the Fisher Center box office by calling 845-758-7900, or at

1920s: Birth of the Big Band—Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks
Thursday July 13th at 8 p.m.

Hear the music of an era of bootlegged booze, the Foxtrot, and Jazz Age decadence in an evening of vintage swing by Grammy Award-winning Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks.

Big Band leader and multi-instrumentalist Giordano brought the sounds of the Roaring Twenties to life in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire (and can be seen & heard throughout all five seasons) and has recorded for countless films and TV series over the past three decades, with recent titles including Café Society (2016), Carol (2015), and the first season of the new Amazon series Z: The Beginning of Everything (2017). Giordano was recently featured in the multi-award winning documentary There’s a Future in the Past, a behind-the-scenes look at the group’s virtuosity, vintage musical instruments, and more than 60,000 period band arrangements.

For an authentic look back at the Birth of the Big Band, join Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks as they bring the joyful syncopation of the 1920s to the Spiegeltent through the music of such essential bandleaders as Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Jean Goldkette, and others.

1930s: The Magic of Mahalia—The Brianna Thomas Quintet
Thursday, July 20th at 8 p.m.

The “best young straight-ahead jazz singer of her generation” (Wall Street Journal), draws on two titans of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson and Thomas Dorsey, in this modern take on the remarkable songs that reshaped America's sacred music.

In the 1930s, Thomas Dorsey, "the father of black Gospel music," met the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson, and began a 14-year musical and touring partnership. Jackson performed Dorsey’s most revered songs, including "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" (a favorite of Martin Luther King, Jr.) and "Peace in the Valley," songs that she would keep in her repertoire for her entire career.  Meanwhile, Dorsey was composing a songbook that would become a bedrock of modern Gospel music.

The brilliant young vocalist Brianna Thomas follows in the footsteps of these musical masters, leading her ensemble in a passionate tribute to this emotional and uplifting repertoire.

“Brianna Thomas is the complete package.” (Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz)

1940s: Yardbird to Freebird—Walking Distance
Thursday, July 27th at 8 p.m.

Sharing their passion for bebop and the music of master saxophonist Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, the ever-dynamic and vanguard jazz quartet Walking Distance present this Catskill Jazz Factory debut of their upcoming sophomore release, Freebird.

By stretching, flipping, reversing, and reorganizing Parker’s compositions, the top young players of Walking Distance (tenor sax, alto sax, double bass, and drums) have created uniquely original pieces that retain the essential spirit and energy of Parker’s masterpieces, infused with contemporary flair. Pianist Orrin Evans, a hard-charging force in the jazz world and bandleader of more than 25 albums, joins this reflection on Parker’s towering legacy. As Miles Davis once said, "You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.

“Count the young, open-spirited band Walking Distance as an impressive contender in a new crop of ensembles representing the contemporary acoustic jazz aesthetic … a creative firebrand of a band worth hearing and following.” (DownBeat Magazine)

1950s: Hollywood & Vine: Jazz Goes West—The Aaron Johnson Ensemble, featuring Veronica Swift 
Thursday, August 3rd at 8 p.m.

A retrospective of 1950s West Coast jazz, where the frenetic sounds of bebop met the laid-back cool of sun and surf in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Commissioned by the Catskill Jazz Factory, Hollywood & Vine features Aaron Johnson (performing on saxophone, clarinet and flute) and rising vocalist Veronica Swift, backed by an ensemble comprised of a "who's who" of rising players on the New York jazz scene.

At a time when the union of jazz and popular music created new commercial and cinematic possibilities, Los Angeles was a hotbed for these new sounds with releases from the likes of Capitol, Pacific Jazz, and Contemporary Records.

Johnson leads this night with a fresh look at time-tested favorites as well as less recognized gems, drawing from the repertoire of legendary figures such as June Christy and Bob Cooper, Stan Kenton, Julie London, Buddy Collette, Shorty Rogers, and the Lighthouse All-Stars.

1960s: Songs of Protest and Reconciliation—Vuyo Sotashe Ensemble
Thursday, August 10th at 8 p.m.

South African jazz vocalist Vuyo Sotashe performs the politically-charged songs of artists who expressed the cultural revolution of 1960s America through pop, rock, soul, and jazz.
Nina Simone said “art must reflect the times.” From this perspective, Sotashe (a Fulbright scholar and winner of South Africa’s biggest music scholarship competition) creates an evening dedicated to artists whose music deeply expressed and often defined their time.

In addition to music by Simone, Sotashe and his band will perform songs by artists such as Marvin Gaye, Miriam Makeba, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Harry Belafonte.

Additional information is available at; tickets can be ordered online at or by calling the box office at 845-758-7900.

The Catskill Jazz Factory is a non-profit program founded in 2012 by Hudson Valley residents Piers and Lucy Playfair. The program offers in-school workshops and concerts, artist residencies, and performances throughout the Hudson Valley. Through this programming, the Catskill Jazz Factory supports some of today's best young jazz artists with educational, creative, and performance opportunities at diverse venues across the region. By partnering with educational facilities, arts organizations, and a variety of local non-profits and businesses, the Catskill Jazz Factory encourages audiences of all ages to participate in community building through jazz. For an ongoing list of Catskill Jazz Factory’s year-round regional jazz programming, see
Named for the late Richard B. Fisher, former chair of Bard’s Board of Trustees, the Fisher Center has become an influential force in performing arts programming, earning critical acclaim for innovative productions of opera, orchestral, chamber, dance, and theater programs. The Center was designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry and distinguished acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, and has received international praise for its breathtaking architecture and superb sound.
Each summer the Fisher Center presents the Bard SummerScape festival, seven weeks of performing arts programs reflecting the life and times of the featured composer of the esteemed Bard Music Festival, now celebrating its 28th year. Fall and spring seasons include original productions, special one-night-only concerts, and touring artists from around the globe.
The Fisher Center is home to the Bard College Theater & Performance and Dance Programs, providing students access to exceptional theater facilities and opportunities to work with professional directors and dramaturges on publicly attended productions throughout the year. The Bard College Conservatory of Music and Bard College Music Program stage regular orchestral and chamber concerts.
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This event was last updated on 05-01-2017