Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares opens a new season

In 2012, Glenn Siegel was looking for a way to bring more jazz performances to the valley. A long-time producer of concerts in the area, such as the Magic Triangle Jazz Series at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Siegel envisioned a successful model that had been used for small farms: community-supported agriculture.

Just as CSA members pay in advance for a weekly pickup of vegetables and other produce, Siegel believed jazz fans might be ready to fight for gigs that otherwise probably couldn’t be funded.

He was right: Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares (PVJS) is now entering its 10th season, having weathered the worst of the pandemic, and Siegel says the Valley continues to be a place jazz musicians want to play – and audiences want to play. hear them.

“We are very grateful to our shareholders,” says Siegel. “With truly generous business sponsors, these are the people who made everything that we did possible. “

The 2021-2022 season kicks off on September 24 when the Christoph Irniger Trio, accompanied by renowned saxophonist Michaël Attias, takes to the Shea Theater in Turners Falls at 7:30 p.m.

Siegel, who lives in Northampton with his wife, Priscilla Page – she is vice president of PVJS as well as a faculty member at the UMass theater department – says a core group of around 85 shareholders are now part of the program , which costs $ 125 per person for a season that typically includes 10 shows. Over the years, says Siegel, PVJS has produced 95 jazz concerts.

Single ticket sales and sponsorship support also underpin the shows, note Siegel and Page, as does the fact that the jazz artists who play the concerts “are willing to do it for a fairly modest fee,” said Siegel.

“They really like to play here,” he says. “A lot of them see it as a good place to start a New England tour, not just a place where they maybe add an extra show to a tour they’ve already scheduled.”

The arrival of COVID-19 last year threw a wrench into the works, as it did for most musicians and music promoters, but PVJS still managed to present 10 concerts, including shows. pre-recorded and broadcast live online and outdoor concerts.

“I’m pretty proud that we were able to do as much as we did, given the circumstances,” Page said, noting that she and Siegel sat down with the Amherst Media staff to stream a few shows live. .

“It was both a little strange but also really special, that we were the only members of the audience to see these shows live,” Page adds.

For this season, she and Siegel have already scheduled 10 concerts until February, including four in October, and they plan to add more in the spring to make up for the lack of live events in 2020-2021.

Much of that depends, Siegel warns, on whether the pandemic does not worsen and whether strict safety protocols are maintained at concerts: members of the public will all need to show proof of vaccination and wear face masks.

“We’re cautiously optimistic about our ability to make this work,” he says.

Most bands are eager to play, he notes, although COVID may have interfered with members’ ability to regularly rehearse with each other over the past year. But since improvisation is a fundamental part of jazz, says Siegel, the musicians at PVJS have an advantage over, say, a symphony orchestra that has to rehearse together.

COVID did not prevent Christoph Irniger, from Switzerland, from traveling to the United States to lead his group during the September 24 show at the Shea Theater. “He’s a real barnstormer who wants to get his music out,” says Siegel.

Irniger, tenor saxophonist and composer, performed a 2019 PVJS show in Springfield; he will be joined at the Shea by another European musician, Raffaele Bossard on bass, and New York players Ziv Ravitz on drums and Michaël Attias on alto saxophone.

According to the concert notes, Irniger’s playing is “deeply rooted” in jazz traditions but also full of exploration. As one reviewer puts it, “He always creates something new, leaving sound paths well traced. Don’t just look left and right a bit, but dig deep into the bushes.

Here is an overview of the four PVJS fairs in October:

Mary LaRose set, Institute of Musical Arts, Goshen, October 9 – Brooklyn, New York, singer Mary LaRose will release her new album, “Out There”, for which she primarily wrote lyrics for the music of Eric Dolphy, an American saxophonist, Flute player and free jazz / bebop composer of the 1950s and early 1960s. LaRose’s husband, clarinetist Jeff Lederer, is part of the ensemble.

LaRose, who has also written lyrics to music by other jazz composers such as Ornette Coleman and Anthony Braxton, is “just a really creative singer and lyricist,” says Siegel. One of his new songs, for example, imagines what Dolphy’s life might have been like at his home in New York.

Steph Richards & Supersense, Institute of the Musical Arts, October 12 – Trumpeter, composer and conductor Steph Richards, also based in Brooklyn, is known for her experiences in jazz and collaborations with pioneering artists such as Henry Threadgill, Laurie Anderson and David Byrne. Siegel says his IMA show will also include a “scratch and sniff” element and a video.

Jason Robinson’s Harmonic Constituent, Northampton Community Arts Trust, October 15 – Saxophonist and composer Jason Robinson, who teaches music at Amherst College, will also present work from his most recent album, “Harmonic Constitute” from 2020, inspired by a solo trip he did in 2018 to the northern California coast.

Robinson, who has performed with a variety of musicians over the years, will be joined by bassist Drew Gress, drummer Ches Smith and acclaimed pianist Joshua White from California.

Orrin Evans Trio, Community Music School of Springfield, October 30 – New Jersey native Evans, a pianist whose music embraces a range of influences including neo-soul, country and hip-hop, was previously a member of The Bad Plus, a modern jazz band that combined avant-garde sounds with rock and pop influences.

Single tickets for all of these shows cost $ 15 and are available at the door and also on jazzshares.org, which also includes additional details on all concerts.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.

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