Jazz in the City Takes Sides

The traveling music series Jazz in the City returns to Syracuse in August

A reinvigorated Jazz in the City returns on Thursday, Aug. 6, for its first stop at Syracuse’s South Side. The traveling music series, which features national and local jazz artists, is designed to reach urban residents by placing the free shows in their backyards. The four separate music programs will take place on Thursday nights in different parts of the Salt City.

This year’s series was jumpstarted by a “Challenge America” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Other contributions came from Assemblyman Sam Roberts, Le Moyne College, Attilio’s Restaurant and several other sponsors.

“We’re very proud to have had Jazz in the City recognized at the national level by the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Larry Luttinger, head of CNY Jazz Central and organizer of the series. “We are the only performing arts organization in the area to receive this grant, specifically targeted at bringing cultural services to underserved areas. This means we can produce a full contingent of four concerts this year, one in each quadrant of the city.”

The series starts Aug. 6, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., at the South Side’s Kirk Park, Kirk Avenue and Argyle Terrace. Headlining the evening will be The Black Lites, the 14-piece rhythm’n’blues tribute band featuring Rick Chisholm that has been a staple of the series. Also on the bill: Mr. Bus Driver and the Elk Pride Step Team.

The series moves to the North Side’s Little Italy section, 700 N. Salina St., on Aug. 13, 7 to 9 p.m. Ready to rock the block will be the Urban Jazz Coalition, a funk powerhouse led by contemporary jazz saxophonist Elan Trotman, along with local jazz great Ronnie Leigh.

Salsa will take over when the series heads westward to Ward Bakery Park, 700 Oswego St., on Aug. 20, 7 to 9 p.m. The 11-piece Alex Torres Y Su Orquesta will offer a dance-oriented Latin party.

This year’s series climaxes at Le Moyne College Plaza, 1419 Salt Springs Road, on Sept. 3, 7 to 9 p.m. The internationally recognized Jeff Kashiwa will front Toronto’s Four 80 East, a smooth jazz favorite, on the city’s East Side.

In addition to reaching all corners of the city, the series also emphasizes the importance of using underutilized city parks, neighborhood centers and commercial corridors, while providing vendors an opportunity to be represented at no cost. Community service groups and businesses are also able to present and distribute information at the events.

“Jazz in the City is an important cultural program which enriches the lives of our citizens and provides a fun outdoor activity for those in our neighborhoods to enjoy,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner. “I am pleased this program will bring beautiful jazz music to a diverse array of city neighborhoods. I thank Larry Luttinger and CNY Jazz for their continued dedication to the city and their work on this program.”

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