(SPENCERTOWN, N.Y.) — Rob Fisch’s Intentional Jazz Ensemble will return to Spencertown Academy Arts Center with a celebration of music from Miles Davis’s classic “Kind of Blue” on Saturday, April 8, at 7:30pm. The group constitutes an all-star team of regional jazz talent, including leader-trumpeter Rob Fisch, saxophone wizard and multi-instrumentalist Charlie Tokarz, pianist John Esposito, bassist Rich Syracuse, and drummer Jeff McRae.
“The idea of using ‘Intentional Jazz’ as a brand is really simple,” says Rob Fisch. “It’s meant to convey the absolute passion and commitment to an art form (jazz) that takes many years, in fact a lifetime, to develop the ability to both understand and perform. In plain words: play it like you really mean it! It’s really that simple.”
“Kind of Blue” was recorded in two sessions on March 2 and April 22 of 1959. It became an instant classic and is the best-selling jazz recording of all time. “While the recorded performance was simply effervescent, perhaps the real genius behind these record dates was Miles Davis’s ability to engineer the convergence of the likes of Bill Evans, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers, John Coltrane, Julian (“Cannonball”) Adderly, Wynton Kelly, and (of course) Miles Davis,” says Fisch. “It’s with a spirit of excitement and anticipation that I will engineer my own convergence of some of the finest jazz musicians in the Northeast at this Spencertown concert.”
Rob Fisch began playing trumpet in grade school and hasn’t stopped since. During his early twenties, he studied jazz at City College (NY). After gaining his BA in music, he started playing out in the local jazz community in Northern New Jersey, Rockland, and Westchester Counties. In the late 80s, he moved to Upstate New York and hosted a jazz radio show at a local station, and later produced a website called Jazz Friends Review. More recently, Fisch launched Taconic Brass, a boutique brass instrument repair business out of his home in Spencertown.
Charlie Tokarz plays saxophone, flute, and clarinet. He has been a pit musician for many musicals at schools, the Colonial Theatre, Arena Stage Theatre, and Barrington Stage. Recently, he has recorded world music with Nana Simopolis, film music with Vyz featuring Adam Holtzman on keyboards, electronica based music with Carl Landa, and jazz influenced spoken word for Godfrey Nelson and accordion virtuoso, Bill Schimmel. These reflect his interest in varied styles of music. He teaches at Hotchkiss School and the Steiner School.
Born in Brooklyn, John Esposito was raised in Hudson, N.Y. He is a jazz pianist with advanced bebop tendencies. Known as a composer for his own groups and a versatile sideman capable of all styles from stride piano to free improvisation, he is a pianist highly influenced by modernism (Bartók in particular), and capable of playing off of several rhythmic and harmonic levels at once. In the 1990s he joined the faculty of Bard College, where he teaches jazz piano, literature, and harmony.
Rich Syracuse has been a mainstay in the New York area music scene for more than three decades. He is the long-standing bassist in the Nick Brignola Quartet, playing at numerous clubs, festivals, and precipitating in many recording sessions. In addition, he has performed with many notable musicians including Mose Allison and the Brubeck Brothers. Syracuse is the Professor for String and Electric Bass Studies at Skidmore College in Saratoga; Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., and the Millbrook School in Millbrook, N.Y.
Jeff McRae lives in North Bennington, Vt. He earned an MA in writing at the University of New Hampshire and his MFA in poetry from Washington University, St. Louis. He teaches creative writing and literature at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Mass. In 1979, he accidentally developed an interest in drumming upon discovering his best friend was to begin lessons. McRae currently plays around the VT/MA/NY area with jazz/soul band AVIVA, The Stardusters big band, and a variety of small combos.
General admission tickets ($20/$10 for students) may be purchased in advance via Spencertown Academy Arts Center and will be available at the door.
Founded in 1972, Spencertown Academy Arts Center is a cultural center and community resource serving Columbia County, the Berkshires, and the Capital region. Housed in a landmark 1847 Greek Revival schoolhouse, the Academy is located at 790 State Route 203 in Spencertown, N.Y. For more information, visit Spencertown Academy Arts Center or call 518-392-3693.