Seeking some seasonal fun? Head to Stony Brook village where The Jazz Loft is presenting "Summer SWAP (Stages With A Purpose)," a weekly series of outdoor entertainment that blends art, history and music in nature settings.
"In jazz, we always improvise and that’s what we are doing," says Thomas J. Manuel, president and founder of The Jazz Loft, about the unique event setup.
Four stages will be running different arts programming simultaneously every Thursday for free starting May 27 through July 1 from 6 to 8 p.m.
"Each stage is within walking distance but they will be far enough so that there won’t be any sound crossover," says Manuel. "We felt that if we offered variety, that would encourage people to be moving about."
Outside on The Jazz Loft lawn, bands will perform atop a restored 1941 Chevrolet dump truck, which serves as a mobile stage.
"We’ve named it Jazz Dispatch," says Manuel. "It’s big enough to put a 10-piece band on the back of it."
A series of jazz bands will take turns headlining each night such as The Equity Brass Band, Manuel Tomas & His Cuban Troubadours featuring Brazilian guitarist Rubens de La Corte, Gospel Road spotlighting mandolin player Buddy Merriam, The Jazz Loft All-Stars with trumpet player Warren Vaché and The Jazz at the Philharmonic All-Stars. Each band will perform two sets with a short break in the middle.
Over at the Stony Brook Harbor parking lot (across the street from the Three Village Inn), local artist Kevin McEvoy will conduct art sessions with live musicians serving as models. McEvoy discusses his different techniques while working on 4x8 foot panels and encourages artists of all ages to join him by bringing whatever materials (charcoal, paints, pens) they feel comfortable using.
"No one has to be a professional artist to participate," says McEvoy. "This is simply a real organic experience just for fun."
Travel to the end of Sand Street Beach where the Ward Melville Heritage Organization and the Long Island Museum will provide a program on the history of Stony Brook village.
"We will be talking about ecology as well as some Stony Brook secrets nobody has ever heard before," says Gloria Rocchio, President of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization. "Our goal is for people to realize what wonderful heritage we have."
The evening will be set up in a conversational format so participants can ask questions.
On the front lawn of Crazy Beans in the heart of the village’s inner court, elementary and high school students will provide musical presentations ranging from rock to pop to Classical to orchestral to Broadway.
"Due to the pandemic restrictions, so many of our young artists have been unable to perform for a live audience," says Laura Landor, director of education and community outreach for The Jazz Loft. "This space will give them an opportunity to showcase the work that they have done this year in a safe environment where everyone can enjoy their performances."
Although the event is held outside, COVID restrictions still come into play. Special signage will encourage social distancing and mask wearing. There will be some limited seating, which gets properly spaced. A crew of volunteers is set to monitor the crowd to avoid congregating, and the performers plan to make announcements from the stage for reinforcement.
"We want this to be a good experience for everyone," says Manuel, "therefore we are going to err on the side of safety so we can continue to do good stuff."
Participants can utilize local restaurants to takeout dinner and picnic at whatever stage they choose. Those wishing to bike to each location can do so for a $7 per hour rental fee at Anjon of Stony Book, located at 105 Main St. In case of inclement weather, the weekly event will be canceled and another Thursday gets tacked onto the end of the calendar.
WHEN/WHERE 6-8 p.m., May 27, June 3, 10, 17 and 24, July 1 at four locations throughout the village of Stony Brook
INFO 631-751-1895, thejazzloft.org