Though it rarely draws the huge 10,000-plus crowds that routinely turn out for the Syracuse Jazz Fest or the NYS Blues Festival, the Northeast Jazz & Wine Festival (formerly Jazz in the Square) consistently draws several thousand folks downtown for three days during which they sample an amazing array of jazz acts at four smaller venues in Clinton and Hanover squares along with the main stage.
A Michael Jackson tribute by New Orleans' saxman Donald Harrison was one of the main stage's memorable moments as was his nod to the Mardi Gras Indians, "Hey Pockey Way."
Philly singer Nicole Henry displayed an enthusiastic reverence for her forebears as she sang "I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water," a rousing blues popularized in the early-1930s by pianist Eddie Miller and vocalist Willie Mae McKenzie.
Even the smaller venues simmered as Salsa Son Timba had dancers swirling inside the Unimar World Beat Pavilion Saturday, and the Jon Seiger Quartet swung outrageously in the Mardi Gras Pavilion.
Seiger, who specializes in music by Louis Armstrong, often plays both trumpet and keyboard simultaneously as he fronts a combo featuring clarinetist Ron Joseph, drummer Mark Shiner and bassist Lynn Eberhardt. The quartet rocked the Mardi Gras tent with tunes such
as "Caledonia," "Minnie the Moocher" and "Shake that Thing."
Earlier Saturday afternoon at Eagle Newspapers' "Battle of the Community Jazz Bands," Resonance 7 made its debut with a fine set of fusion featuring farther-and-daughter saxophonists David and Lauren Rich on tenor and alto respectively.
Then The Rhythm-Airs, together for 33 years, played an all-uptempo set of swing under the direction of trumpeter Maureen Clum. Pianist Mimi Osmun rose from the bench to sing a Satchmo-like "Hello Dolly" while Clum and clarinetist Danny Brisk blew the familiar melody.
The Jazz Kats, a 1-year-old 18-piece orchestra primarily from Oswego County also electrified Saturday afternoon's audience starting with Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia" and ending with Blood, Sweat & Tears' "Lighthouse." Syracuse showgal Mo Harrington joined the Kats to sing "Orange-Colored Sky" and "Just the Way You are Tonight."