Is This Jazz?: What’s Next For Fall


The fall season is a perfect time to go see jazz around Rhode Island. As the weather begins to cool and people start piling up the layers of outer wear, musicians ditch the outdoor stages for the clubs and local hangs. Here’s a snippet of the excellent shows coming to the state this season.

First up, on Sep 9 we have local sax legend Greg Abate bringing his quartet to Slater Park as part of the Pawtucket Arts Festival concert series. Abate is a favorite in the area and his performances are always exceptional. Rounding out the group will be Rusty Hughes, Joe Potenza and Gary Johnson. On the following day, Sep 10, head over to Aurora in Providence for the latest edition of the Jazz Revelations concert series. This show will feature The Jake D’Ambra Group (Jake D’Ambra, Warren Pettey, Ian Quinton, Shane Dähler, Clay Nordhill) performing the music of saxophonist Charles Lloyd. These young lions all have a deep appreciation for Lloyd’s music and will surely bring a great energy to their set. A week later, on Sep 17, The Duke Robillard Hard-Swing Sextet will present a set of “Swinging Jazz Standards” at Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton. Robillard is a native son of RI who, throughout his outstanding career, has played in nearly every style with some of the biggest names in the business, including Scott Hamilton, Herb Ellis, Jay Geils and Bob Dylan.

Looking forward to Sep 23, the “Is This Jazz?” series is presenting a special night of duos at AS220 in Providence. On the bill is Golden Crackers (Tom Swafford, Matt Crane), Pride of Lowell (Patrick Breiner, Max Goldman) and Phil Mazza & Ryan Kowal. Each duo will be showcasing their unique sound and exploring a dynamic mix of intricately composed and freely improvised music. On Sep 29 at Chan’s in Woonsocket, Roomful of Blues will be celebrating 50 years of swinging jump blues. As they say on their website, although their “lineup has changed over the years, the band has always been one of the tightest, most joyful blues ensembles in the world … their winning combination of jump, swing, blues, R&B and soul remains their calling card.”

Moving into October, on the 6th, “Is This Jazz?” will be back at AS220 for the next installment of its bimonthly concert series. Headlining the night will be Boston-based saxophonist Kelly Shepherd and his group NoMad Stories. When asked to describe the ensemble, Shepard writes, “Longing for a world with no genres, we travel the musical spheres with no boundary, touching and reflecting the ancient, aboriginal stories of the earth, and simultaneously reaching the outermost expanse of the modern spheres, acoustic and electric. These are the NoMad Stories.” NoMad Stories has opened for and performed with Gladys Knight, The Temptations, Ray Charles, Buckwheat Zydeco, Bela Fleck, George Coleman and many more, so be sure to come through and see this amazing group of supremely talented musicians. Finally, on Oct 15 at The Vets in Providence, jazz icons Chick Corea and Steve Gadd will be joining forces once again to create mind-shattering music. Although this will be their first time co-leading an ensemble, they first came together in the 1970s when Gadd became the first electric drummer for Chick’s seminal jazz fusion band Return to Forever. Since then, they have continued this musical cohesion and have evolved together into a perfect synthesis of unified sound. With them will be a band of fellow visionaries with Lionel Loueke, Steve Wilson, Carlitos Del Puerto and Luisito Quintero.

There are always new gigs being added to the schedule, so keep an eye out for more great jazz going on around the state.

Happening Around Town:

The John Allmark Jazz Orchestra; first Monday monthly @ The Met (Pawtucket)

Is This Jazz?; first Friday, bimonthly @ AS220 (Providence)

Allary At Arias; Sundays @ Arias Lounge (Providence)

Groove Merchants; Mondays @ Fifth Element (Newport)

Jazz JamTuesdays @ Ten Rocks (Pawtucket)

Groove E TuesdayTuesdays @ Murphy’s Law (Pawtucket)

Parlour Jazz Jam; third Sunday each month @ The Parlour (Providence)

Jeff Platz Quartet’s Modern Sound Series; last Sunday each month @ Tea In Sahara (Providence)

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Ben Shaw is a local composer and performer. Find him at or on Twitter @ahueofshaw.

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