Guitarist Rick Balestra, who mentors future Claptons at three area colleges, likes to get out of the classroom as often as he can to play gigs.
He'll do just that at Cazenovia High School's Ninth Annual Jazz Night, Tuesday April 12, in the CHS Auditorium, 31 Emory Ave.
The Cazenovia High School Jazz Ensemble, conducted by Kathy DiNardo, will open the show at 7:30 p.m.
Admission to Tuesday's concert is free. For more information, call 655-1300, ext. 3222.
A native of Syracuse, Balestra has emerged as one of New York state's top jazz guitarists.
He now serves as professor of guitar at SUNY Oswego, Colgate University and Hamilton College. Besides being an active educator, Rick performs live in front of all kinds of audiences. He has appeared as a featured soloist with the Syracuse Symphony Pops Orchestra and has played in pit bands for all of the region's professional theater companies.
Balestra has performed festivals such as the Syracuse Jazz Fest, the Glenora Wine Jazz Series and Rochester's Cornhill Festival.
He's just as comfortable improvising on his hollow body in bars as he is reading charts on the concert stage. At area nightclubs Rick has performed in all-original bands such as Drivetime, Alliance, Group Therapy. His current combo's called Spaces.
At the April 12 concert Balestra will be joined by his brother, percussionist Larry Balestra, along with Brendan Van Epps on saxophone and Chris Colabello on bass. The group will work with the Cazenovia High School Jazz Ensemble during the day before performing in concert that evening.
During its set, the CHS Jazz Ensemble will play tunes such as "Freddie Freeloader" by Miles Davis, an arrangement featuring alto saxophonist Noah Zinsmeister, trumpeter Marian Foster and bassist Joey Stehl. Louis Prima's "Sing, Sing, Sing" will spotlight drummer Ryker Smith and trumpeter Craig Carges.
The concert will conclude with Balestra's group joining together with the student ensemble to jam on the classic big-band blow-out, "Perdido."
Cazenovia High School Jazz Ensemble 2010-11
Alto Saxes - Noah Zinsmeister, Morgan Christiansen, Alyssa DiAngelo
Tenor Saxes - Abby Eschen, Liz Pittman
Bari Sax - Mike Nourse
Trumpets - Brody Kellish, Craig Carges, Gus Whitaker, Maddy McDonald, Marian Foster, Patrice Gonazles
Trombones - Chris Giardina, Chelsea Perkins, Connor Carroll, Sam Cole
Piano - Olivia Bowser
Guitar - Lee Cudney
Keyboard Bass - Joey Stehl
Drums and Percussion - Tom Mackowiak, Pat Marris, Ryker Smith
Vibes - Eric Bushnell