Booker T to Headline Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival

Everyone has heard Booker T. Jones whether they realize it or not. Booker T and the MGs’ “Green Onions” has provided a backdrop for many a commercial and motion picture since the Memphis Soul classic was released back in 1962.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Booker T. Jones will bring his Hammond B-3 to Albany’s Jenning’s Landing as the headliner of the 14th annual Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival on Sept. 12.

The free festival is sponsored by the City of Albany’s Office of Special Events and Cultural Affairs and runs from 1 to 9 p.m. A fireworks display will follow the musical performances.

Booker T. Jones
Booker T. Jones

While Jones and the MGs are best known for their instrumental classic, he has also been involved in some of music’s most enigmatic moments. Jones was a session musician at the legendary Stax Records and also had a hand in writing such classics as Otis Redding’s “I Love You More Than Words Can Say” and Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign.” He has also lent his signature organ sound to recordings by Ray Charles, Neil Young, Drive By Truckers, and Elton John and Leon Russell. Jones will close the show with a set beginning at 7 p.m.

With the renewed U.S-Cuban relations garnering headlines, what better way to kick off the festival than with Hudson Valley locals Larry Moses’ Latin Jazz Express. Members of this seven-member ensemble will engage the audience with a mix of latin jazz sounds from Cuba, Puerto Rico and beyond.

Next is the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival debut of The Joey Thomas Big Band. Showcasing the big band sounds of Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller, The Joey Thomas Big Band will have the audience jitterbugging and swinging along the Hudson River banks.

Upstate New York saxophonist Keith Pray and his Soul Revival follows with a set of original compositions leaning towards the soulful smooth jazz style. Pray has performed on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the Food Network and has graced the stage of the Newport Jazz Festival. His versatility as a sax player and band leader is superb and not to be missed.

Young jazz/pop prodigy Kate Davis will keep the stage warm for Jones, using her multi-instrumental talents and Billie Holliday-esque voice to keep toes tapping and heads bobbing. Davis was named by MTV last year as one of 15 Females Who Will Rule Pop. The performance below does little to dispel that acclaim. Her vocal and bass prowess belie her age.

The Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival is a free, family-friendly event that has brought many greats and up-and-comers to the Capitol Region for over a decade. This year’s tilt continues that tradition.

This year’s lineup:

  • 1-2 p.m.: Larry Moses’ Latin Jazz Express
  • 2:30-3:30 p.m.: The Joey Thomas Big Band
  • 4-5 p.m.: Keith Pray’s Soul Jazz Revival
  • 5:30-6:30 p.m.: Kate Davis
  • 7-8:15 p.m.: Booker T. Jones