Funk and jazz will meet at this year’s 2011 M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest with the lineup of legendary artists announced Monday, May 2. The 29th annual jazz-ma-tazz will feature multi-platinum and gold recording artists Average White Band, five-time Grammy-winning Robert Cray Band, and Late Show With David Letterman trumpeter Al Chez and Return to Forever IV, with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, Frank Gambale and Jean-Luc Ponty.
Local jazz bands will kick off both days of the festival, to be held once again on the verdant campus of Onondaga Community College on Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25, from 3 to 11 p.m.; fireworks follow the Saturday lineup.
Director and founder Frank Malfitano, County Executive Joanie Mahoney, OCC president Debbie Sydow and M&T Bank regional president Allen Naples, who helped bring M&T back as title sponsor this year, spoke about the importance of the festival and what it took to make it possible at the announcement. “We were close this year,” Mahoney said. “Every time we turned around funding was going away. It seems there’s been an all-out assault on the arts and culture recently. But Jazz Fest is a part of our community and Frank kept after it day after day. It’s highlighted by a weekend, but Jazz Fest is year-round.”
It was also announced this week that The New York State Blues Festival will be taking place July 8, 9 and 10 in Clinton Square. This year, the festival brings Dana Fuchs, singer, songwriter and actress most well-known for her role as Sadie in the 2007 film Across the Universe, Magic Slim, Ronnie Earl, Dave Fields, Sue Foley, Brian Lee, JW Jones and others.
Local performers including The Super Delinquents, Jose Alvarez, Mark Doyle, Funky Blue Roots, Corn-Bred and others will also perform as well as SOS, an all-star group of 18 of the best blues musicians from Central New York. Members include George Rossi, Joe Columbo, Mark Hoffmann, Phil Petroff, Pete McMahon, Skip Murphy and Carolyn Kelly.
The band was formed to support the festival and will also be performing a fundraising show at Paper Mill Island, 136 Spensieri Ave., Baldwinsville on Saturday, May 14, with the time to be announced. There is no admission charge for the show, but money will be raised through donations and a new approach. You can purchase Blues Club tickets, which include VIP seats at the Blues Festival, complimentary beer and soda and a food buffet served twice daily during the fest. Tickets are $60 for each day of the Blues Festival.
The Blues Festival is also still looking for and accepting sponsors to reach their ultimate fundraising goal. For more information, visit www.nysbluesfest.com
Bank on it: M&T Bank regional president Allen Naples (left) announced that the financial institution has re-upped its sponsorship of the Syracuse Jazz Fest. Also speaking at the press conference were County Executive Joanie Mahoney, Onondaga Community College president Debbie Sydow and Jazz Fest founder/director Frank Malfitano.