Jazz series tuning up for new season
To Nick Weiser, artistic director of Jazz at Domus Fare, jazz is a music meant to be made for and with other people; it is a social music that is engaged with and energized by the audience, who is as essential to jazz musicians as a live audience is to a comedian.
Hardly random or off-the-cuff, both comedy and jazz are art forms that rely on planning, improv, timing, and perhaps the most important skill of all: “reading the room.” Just as a seasoned comic’s well-timed one liner can leave audience members smiling for days, so, too, can a brilliant jazz lick leave listeners feeling the beat long after the music is over.
Area residents have the opportunity to be part of such an audience during the second season of Jazz at Domus Fare, the main project of the Fredonia Jazz Society. Jazz at Domus Fare, hosted at the popular Fredonia eatery at 41 W. Main St., includes four engaging performances by the Nick Weiser Trio beginning Thursday, Sept. 12. On event nights, the restaurant closes to the public and is transformed into an intimate jazz club, serving up live music, food and drink, including bar service of beer and wine. Last season, Domus Fare owner and Chef Isaac Borgstrom wowed guests with delicious menus, including New Orleans-themed, French and Italian appetizer and entree options. This season, too, promises a culinary experience that is just as satisfying as the music.
Last year’s performances were met with enthusiasm, and as the season progressed, the events began to sell out. “It’s thrilling to play to a full house, and it illustrates that there is a real desire to create a community around jazz and American popular music in Fredonia,” said Weiser. “I’m so grateful for the support we received from everyone, and I’m looking forward to seeing familiar and new faces this season.”
Weiser, assistant professor and director of Jazz Studies at SUNY Fredonia, is an acclaimed jazz pianist who has performed throughout North America and Europe, including the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Umbria Jazz Festival, the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, New York City’s “Prez Fest,” and Carnegie Hall.
In 2018, he toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and performed with the Cuba- United States All Star Jazz Ensemble at the Santiago de Cuba International Jazz Festival, where he will be returning this fall to perform and debut an original composition. Now in his third year teaching at SUNY Fredonia, Weiser is thrilled to lead the growing jazz program, which received national attention earlier this year when his New Jazz Ensemble received DownBeat magazine’s 2019 Student Music Award for Outstanding Performance by a College Large Ensemble in the Undergraduate College division.
“For this second season of Jazz at Domus Fare, I’m excited to introduce some new arrangements featuring the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell, as well as classic jazz standards by such greats as Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and George Gershwin,” Weiser told the OBSERVER.
Weiser is joined by bassist Kieran Hanlon, assistant professor of double bass and jazz at SUNY Fredonia, and a first-call performer in both the classical and jazz idioms. Hanlon is Principal Bass of the Erie Philharmonic and the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, and also performs with the Detroit Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic and the Rochester Philharmonic.
The trio’s percussionist, Alec Dube, also serves on the faculty at SUNY Fredonia and was named Jazz Vibraphonist of the Year in 2015 by Jazz Buffalo. Skilled on the drums and mallets, Dube is a musician in a number of area groups and teaches throughout the Buffalo area.
Last season, Weiser featured guest performers who are some of the most sought-after jazz musicians in the region, including drummer Greg Evans, trumpeter Mark Filsinger and saxophonist Bruce Johnstone. Weiser hinted that he will be welcoming more regional jazz masters to his trio’s performances this season.
Expanding the mission
Karl Boelter, Fredonia Jazz Society president and director emeritus of the School of Music at SUNY Fredonia, is pleased to continue the mission of the non-profit organization this year. Connecting the area’s artists, businesses and residents through live jazz performances, the Fredonia Jazz Society aims to enhance the quality of life through music and the arts in the Dunkirk-Fredonia community.
“Jazz permeates today’s music,” said Boelter. “Its classic language appeals across cultures and generations, and we see this in our audiences. A wide range of people are responding to a shared experience. The events are truly for everyone. We are excited to be a part of the effort to make our community ever more lively and successful.”
For the first time, the Fredonia Jazz Society offers local students the opportunity to perform with Weiser’s trio through the 2019 Student Jazz Competition. The contest is open to any and all students ages 15 to 22 as of Oct. 1 and whose current residence is within approximately a 100-mile radius of Fredonia as of that same date.
“We want to hear from any student who is interested in jazz, regardless of what they play or the specific nature of their studies,” said Boelter “Our goal is to discover a blossoming talent, and to give the chance for it to be heard by an appreciative audience.”
The deadline for application is Tuesday, Oct. 1 and all auditions will be held in person at SUNY Fredonia’s Mason Hall on Sunday, Oct. 27. All auditionees will receive a certificate of participation. The winner(s) of the contest will also receive a $100 prize, plus a guest appearance at Jazz at Domus Fare on Thursday, April 23. All contest information, including its rules and application can be found at www.fredoniajazzsociety.com/student-competition.
Tickets and more
This season’s Jazz at Domus Fare events will occur on the following Thursdays: Sept. 12, Nov. 7, Feb. 27 and April 23. Two seatings will occur on each date at 5:30 and 8 p.m., and the full menu is available during both seatings.
On these nights, admission to the restaurant is by ticket only. Subscriptions are on sale now for the full season of four events and a half season of two events. Single-event tickets may also be purchased, and a select number of tickets will be available at the door. Dinner can be purchased in advance at a special price when buying a subscription. Those who would like a specific place to sit may purchase the reserved seating option. Tickets and more information are available at www.fredoniajazzsociety.com. To view some of last year’s Jazz at Domus Fare performances, subscribe to Fredonia Jazz Society’s Youtube channel.