HUDSON — Hudson Hall, at the historic Hudson Opera House, and jazz artists are working together to keep improvisation alive and well by hosting the city’s first jazz festival.
Jazz enthusiasts will be able to enjoy the syncopated rhythms and improvised melodies at Hudson Hall from Feb. 16 to Feb. 18.
The festival was curated by jazz pianist Armen Donelian and will feature headliners such Sheila Jordan and Dominique Eade, The Ara Dinkjian Quartet featuring Ismail Lumanovski, 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master JoAnne Brackeen and Quarterto Moderno.
Donelian has worked with outgoing Hudson Opera House Director Gary Schiro since 2009 when they began an annual concert for their Hudson Jazz Workshop.
“I have had years of experience leading my own bands and organizing tours, concerts, recordings and workshops, of writing and executing grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fulbright Foundation and so curating the Hudson Jazz Festival seemed like the next step for me, although honestly it presented new logistical and programming challenges,” Donelian said. “I feel greatly honored by the confidence Gary, his successor, Tambra Dillon and staff have placed in me, while at the same time I feel exhilarated and gratified at the result.”
Besides the live performances, the festival will include hands-on jazz improvisation workshops and movie screenings. Donelian is happy the festival will take place in Hudson.
“The Hudson Jazz Festival will put the city of Hudson and Hudson Hall on the radar of everyone in the arts community locally, regionally, nationally and globally,” he said. “It is a huge leap forward for the art form of jazz.”
Headliner Sheila Jordan is excited about performing at the festival.
“Jazz is the only music America can call its very own and I call it the stepchild of American music because it’s not accepted the way it should be. It is the music of America,” she said. “It started here and started with the blues in the cotton fields. I want to keep that music alive and I want people to feel it, experience it and support it.”
Jordan, who has played jazz for 70 years, hopes the festival will introduce jazz to new listeners.
“I’ll keep this music alive until I die and hopefully pass this music along to the kids I teach in workshops. I’m really serious about keeping this music alive. This music saved my life. It’s very important to me,” she said. “We hope that we’ll hear it and enjoy it and they’ll start supporting more jazz concerts and more jazz artists.”