Women on top: Wall Street Jazz Festival in Kingston

Francesca Tanksley

“Back in the day, jazz was almost exclusively a man’s field. That has changed over time, but it is still somewhat unusual for female instrumentalists to share the stage,” says Peggy Stern, who organizes the Wall Street Jazz Festival under the rubric of the Ritenuto Foundation. The annual Kingston Stockade District event is marking its tenth anniversary this weekend.

“At this Festival, our motto – ‘Where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women’ – says it all. The music is ‘controlled’ by the leader of the band (a woman),” Stern says. “It is not a women’s jazz festival, per se, as it includes many men in the bands; it’s just that the musical choices are made by women. That makes for a very eclectic and elegant presentation.”

The two-day Festival kicks off Friday evening, August 30 with an Art of the Duo concert at the Old Dutch Church at 272 Wall Street, this year featuring Piano Duos with Dena Derose, Francesca Tanksley, Nina Sheldon and Stern herself. “Some of the music will be planned ahead, and some will be true improvisation, on the spot,” Stern says. The concert will begin at 8 p.m., and tickets will be available at the door for $15.

Saturday’s offerings are free of charge, and will be performed outdoors at the corner of North Front and Wall Streets, weather permitting, or indoors at Backstage Productions at 314 Wall Street in the event of rain. The Claire Daly Monk Quartet will play at 6 p.m.

“Continuing with something unusual for this year,” says Stern, “the All-Play Set will mix and match duos, trios, quartets and quintets in various combinations and machinations,” beginning at 7 p.m. The all-star cast will include Ingrid Jensen, Jay Clayton, “Sweet” Sue Terry, Teri Roiger, Judi Silvano, Dena Derose, Maryann McSweeney, Francesca Tanksley, Peggy Stern, John Menegon, Jon Wikan, Lew Scott, Peter O’Brien, Claire Daly and Suzi Stern.

Topping off the Festival at 9 p.m. will be dancing in the street to the Latin jazz rhythms of Estrella Salsa & Samba, featuring Sue Terry, Ingrid Jensen and Claire Daly in the front line, with backup from all-star rhythm section. For more information about the whole weekend’s offerings, visit www.wallstreetjazzfestival.com.

10th annual Wall Street Jazz Festival: Piano Duos, Friday, August 30, 8 p.m., $15, Old Dutch Church, 272 Wall Street, Kingston; Saturday, August 31, 6 p.m., Claire Daly Quartet, 7 p.m., All-Play Set, 9 p.m., Estrella Salsa & Samba, North Front/Wall Streets, Kingston; www.wallstreetjazzfestival.com.

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