The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook began celebrating its one-year anniversary a month early with the first-ever live radio broadcast of its weekly big band concert, featuring classics that span much of the 100-year history of its memorabilia collection.
“We’re all about jazz,” says Tom Manuel, 38, of St. James, the Loft’s president, founder and resident trumpet player. “Preservation, education and performance.”
The performance/preservation aspects of its three-pronged mission continue Saturday night with vibraphonist Warren Chiasson and his quartet playing a tribute to Teddy Charles, who died in 2012 near his adopted home in Greenport, where he docked his boat, Pilgrim, and played local venues.
A self-taught musician, Chiasson, born in a Nova Scotia fishing village, was inspired as a teenager by recordings of George Shearing, particularly “I’ll Remember April,” and by Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. But it was a live concert in his hometown by Lionel Hampton that turned him onto the vibraphone. Years later, he recalls playing with Hampton on his home turf — Long Island at the time. “I remember doing a gig at Sonny’s Place in Seaford in the ’80s and he walked in with his lady friend to hear me play. Much to my delight, he played on my vibes — just as he’d done when I was getting started.” Chiasson is known for his four-mallet dexterity on vibes.
On a stormy night last week, Manuel introduced pieces by his heroes performed by the 18-piece Jazz Loft Big Band. Band members surpassed by one the number of folks in the audience, not counting the DJ from Stony Brook University’s WUSB/90.1 FM station. The band, featuring trombonist Ray Anderson, guitarist Steve Salerno and pianist Rich Iacona, opened appropriately with Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Here’s That Rainy Day” played in Parker’s bebop style, followed by mainstream evergreens by Ellington, Count Basie and Woody Herman.
The bandstand is a remnant from Roseland Ballroom rescued for the Jazz Loft in its $500,000 renovation. completed last spring. The building, once a firehouse, was relocated next to the Three Village Inn by Ward Melville in the 1940s, when Stony Brook Village Center opened across the street. The cabaret-style table seating on the top floor — light fare and beverages available — is surrounded currently by Vincent Quatroche paintings, ranging in style from Picasso to Pollack.
Among the gems in the museum collection on the lower floors are Milt Hinton’s basement studio from St. Albans, Queens; original compositions by Louis Jordan, widely considered the inventor of rock and roll; and artifacts from the career of New York/Long Island society bandleader Lester Lanin.
“This gives us a way to connect with kids who know nothing about jazz but might be curious to learn,” says Manuel.
As for Saturday’s vibraphone concert, he says of this endangered instrumental form, “You have to perform it before a live audience. Otherwise, it dies.”
WHAT Warren Chiasson Quartet
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Saturday, April 15, Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook. Museum hours: noon-5 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays
TICKETS Concert: $10-$20. Museum: $5-$10 (younger than 12 free), 631-751-1895, thejazzloft.org
WHAT Long Island slide guitar master Kerry Kearney returns to the Grounds and Sounds Cafe series for a concert Friday night in an intimate coffeehouse-style setting. He and his bandmates were recently inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame. Besides the blues, his repertoire crosses over into an infectious rock groove as well. Expect to get up and dance.
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook, 380 Nicolls Rd.
TICKETS $12.50; groundsandsounds.org