What started as “a labor of love experiment” has become the first annual Shelter Island Jazz Festival.
The festival’s downbeat will be sounded on Monday, August 18 and the music will play through Sunday, August 24 with a lineup including internationally and locally acclaimed jazz musicians performing on the Dory’s deck overlooking Chase Creek and at the Ram’s Head Inn.
Event Coordinator Joe Lauro recently recalled how the idea came about. Each summer, Dory owner Jack Kiffer hosts an evening with Freddy Cole but has always envisioned “something more.”
“Jack called me up and asked, ‘Who can we get?’” Mr. Lauro said about planning the festival. He’s no stranger to the music scene, presently fronting the HooDoo Loungers, a nine-piece New Orleans-style group.
Mr. Lauro also runs the Greenport Historic Films Archive and will kick off the festival Monday night with a screening of “Jazz in the Movies.” The 90-minute program pays homage to some legends: Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Nat King Cole (Freddy’s brother) and others.
“Jazz in the Movies” has been shown at many venues, including Lincoln Center, but Mr. Lauro said he’s “excited to bring this show to Shelter Island.” The archival footage is a unique way of experiencing the legacies of these great artists, he said, and Monday evening’s program will be an inspiring introduction to the live music that will flow through the space each night.
No stranger to the Dory, Freddy Cole returns to Shelter Island with his quartet; local musicians also will be sitting in. Tuesday night, vocalist Lilly Merat performs her soulful covers and original songs, which can be heard frequently around the South Fork, earning her the title of “Best of the Best 2013 Female Musician” by Dan’s Papers last year. The Dennis Raffelock Jazz Duo is set to open for Freddy Cole Wednesday night, performing jazz standards.
The Dory’s deck will feel like downtown New Orleans once the HooDoo Loungers take the stage Thursday night. Mr. Lauro’s band features two spirited vocalists, a seasoned horn section and swinging rhythm section.
Claes Brondal will perform with the Soul Jazz Train Express Friday, bringing elements of soul to the festival. The contemporary jazz style is influenced by gospel and rhythm and blues and is guaranteed to get people dancing.
Grammy-nominated pianist Judy Carmichael is set to play Saturday night, taking a break from touring this summer in Brazil, Japan, Russia and across Europe. “I live in Sag Harbor, so I’m thrilled any time I get to perform in the area, since I travel abroad over 200 days a year,” Ms. Carmichael said. “I’ve never performed on Shelter Island so I’m especially looking forward to it.”
Mr. Lauro made sure tickets are affordable — ranging from $10 to $85 per show. The pricier ticket for Freddy Cole’s concert includes dinner.
“This is the chance to hear world-renowned talent at our local venues. This can’t work without local support.”
He’s already looking to the future of the festival. “My vision is to expand this next year and get more venues across the Island involved,” he said.
Until then, he awaits what this year’s first time “experiment” will bring. “I can’t think of a better venue in a more intimate, beautiful setting,” he said.
The festival officially concludes Sunday, August 24 at the Ram’s Head Inn. From 6 to 10 p.m., Jane Hastay, Peter Weiss, John Ludlow, Dick Behrke, John Cataletto and Sari Kessler will present “Jazz at the Ram’s Head Inn.”
Mr. Lauro also emphasized the importance of supporting live music. “It can be a struggle,” he said, acknowledging the stress of putting together a successful live performance. But hearing live music vs. recorded “is a whole different experience.”
For the schedule, see page B13. Call 749-4300 or visit shelterislandjazzfest.com for more information or to purchase tickets.