2019 Hudson Jazz Festival


FEBRUARY 15-17, 2019
Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House
327 Warren Street, Hudson, NY

NEA Jazz Master Saxophonist David Leibman

with vocalist Jay Clayton, bass player Jay Anderson and pianist Armen Donelian

Afro-Cuban legend Bobby Sanabria & Quarteto Aché

Master pianists Kirk Nurock, Lynne Arriale and Sullivan Fortner

Middle-Eastern inspired Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble

and features a free film screening, workshop and more

Tickets start at $25; 3-day Weekend Passes just $90
Now on sale to Hudson Hall members. Tickets on sale to the public December 5

What a line up! Music doesn't get any hipper than this.
– NEA Jazz Master, Sheila Jordan

Hudson Hall presents the second annual HUDSON JAZZ FESTIVAL (HJF), FRIDAY FEBRUARY 15, SATURDAY FEBRUARY 16 and SUNDAY FEBRUARY 17 (President's Day Weekend) at Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House's historic 1855 theater. Curated by Hudson-based jazz pianist Armen Donelian, the 2019 festival treats jazz aficionados and world music fans to a banquet of masterful artists playing music from around the globe.

The 2019 festival kicks off with a bang on Friday evening with Bobby Sanabria & Quarteto Aché, a no-holds-barred dive into the dynamic world of Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz. Saturday afternoon's Piano Summit highlights the eclecticism of Juilliard-trained Jazzman Kirk Nurock (composer of "Sonata for Piano and Dog, " as seen on The David Letterman Show), the beautifully poetic Lynne Arriale, and Sullivan Fortner, a jazz wunderkind on the rise with a wonderfully fresh approach at the keys. Later that day, producer George Schuller introduces the screening of his intriguing film, From Residency to Legacy which documents the historic contribution of The Modern Jazz Quartet in residency at the former Music Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Saturday evening climaxes with the astounding music of two fearless veterans, NEA Jazz Master saxophonist David Liebman and acclaimed avant-garde vocalist Jay Clayton, with the propulsive Jay Anderson on bass and HJF curator Armen Donelian on piano.

With no rest for the talented, the festival continues Sunday morning with a hands-on morning workshop for students taught by Donelian and saxophonist Marc Mommaas, the Co-Directors of Hudson Jazzworks.

The Two Rivers Ensemble headlines the concluding concert on Sunday at 3pm, led by the genre-bending Iraqi jazz trumpeter, vocalist, santur player and Columbia University professor, Amir Elsaffar. Ole Mathisen joins him on saxophone, George Ziadeh on oud and Zafer Tawil on violin, oud and percussion.

"We are thrilled to present an array of such musical quality, in a venue as immaculate as Hudson Hall, " says HFJ 2019 curator, Armen Donelian. "We are incredibly grateful for the keen and loyal interest of the regional jazz community, as together we look forward to the second annual Hudson Jazz Festival!"

Hudson Hall is located at 327 Warren Street, Hudson, New York.Tickets start at $25. HJF Weekend Passes ($90) include priority entry and seating to every performance.

Hudson Hall members currently have advance access to tickets. Tickets go on sale to the public Wednesday, December 5 online at or by phone at (518) 822-1438. Visit to learn more about year round membership benefits. Young people 25 and under may pre-purchase single tickets for $15 each using the discount code UNDER25.


Friday, February 15 at 7pm
Tickets: $25

Bobby Sanabria, musical director, drums, vocals, percussion
Peter Brainin, tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, percussion
Darwin Noguera, piano, vocals
Andy Eulau, acoustic bass

This band rockets between bop, straight-up and charging, to the languorous bolero, to galloping Cuban timba, to rhythms from Puerto Rico and Brazil and the Caribbean. It is propulsive, slangy, and above all historically literate.
– Ben Ratliff, The New York Times

The second annual Hudson Jazz Festival hits the ground running with evening of sizzling Latin Jazz by seven-time GRAMMY nominated drummer/percussionist, Bobby Sanabria and his Quarteto Aché. Sanabria's infectious grooves are grounded in his tenures with such legendary figures as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Paquito D'Rivera, The U.S. Jazz Ambassadors, and the Godfather of Afro-Cuban Jazz, Mario Bauzá. Puerto Rican by descent and raised in New York's South Bronx, Sanabria is a leading figure in the Afro-Cuban jazz scene and hailed as one of the most popular Latin drummer/percussionists of his generation.

PIANO SUMMIT: Kirk Nurock, Lynne Arriale, Sullivan Fortner
Saturday, February 16 at 1pm
Tickets: $25

A treat for jazz piano devotees, three world-class musicians take to the keys in one afternoon of jazz piano immersion. The "joyously iconoclastic" (Keyboard Magazine) Kirk Nurock has orchestrated for Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie and Meredith Monk, composed a work for 2O voices and three canines which he conducted at Carnegie Hall, and won a scholarship at age 16, awarded by Duke Ellington himself. Nurock is followed by the "poet laureate of her generation" (Jazz Police) Lynne Arriale, whose melodious playing and emotional authenticity earned her the title of "jazzdom's most intensely unique voices" by JazzTimes. The afternoon concludes with rising star, Sullivan Fortner, an adept, award-winning jazz musician and composer with a bent toward sophisticated post-bop. A native of New Orleans, Fortner was the recipient of the coveted American Pianists Association's Cole Porter Fellowship in Jazz in 2015.

FREE SCREENING: The Modern Jazz Quartet: From Residency To Legacy
Saturday, February 16 at 3:00pm
Directed by George Schuller (2018, 65min)
Reservations at

Featuring Percy Heath, John Lewis, Milt Jackson, Dave Brubeck, Gunther Schuller, Stephanie Barber, and more.

For over forty years, The Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) was the premier concert ensemble in jazz. Formed in 1952, MJQ pushed the boundaries of jazz and classical music at time when the genre, like the country itself, was in the throes of change. On the East Coast, this evolution was taking place amidst the gently rolling Berkshire Mountains in Lenox, Massachusetts, at a place called The Music Inn. Halfway between the Second World War and the Civil Rights Movement, Phil and Stephanie Barber created an oasis where aspiring musicians came to learn from the very best. Produced and directed by George Schuller, a jazz musician and son of the legendary Gunther Schuller, take a break from your Hudson Jazz Festival shows to enjoy this fascinating collection of remembrances, anecdotes and events highlighting the MJQ's role in developing The Music Inn's iconic School of Jazz.

Filmmaker George Schuller will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A with HJF curator, Armen Donelian, with whom he has recorded several CDs.

FEARLESS MASTERS: David Liebman, Jay Clayton, Jay Anderson, Armen Donelian
Saturday, February 16 at 7pm
Tickets: $35

NEA Jazz Master David Liebman, saxophone
Jay Clayton, vocals
Jay Anderson, bass
Armen Donelian, piano

Four powerhouse players take to the stage in a Valentine’s Day weekend evening made for jazz lovers. For nearly five decades, saxophonist and NEA Jazz Master David Leibman has wowed audiences and inspired musicians alike with his “ability to touch the soul with an extraordinary depth of emotion and dramatic range” (Downbeat Magazine). Leibman began his illustrious career in the 1970s with Elvin Jones and Miles Davis before continuing as leader of his widely acclaimed bands, Lookout Farm and Quest. Leibman is joined by “the most adventurous singer in jazz” (The Village Voice), Jay Clayton. Known as a pioneer of the free jazz movement, Clayton is renowned for her instrument-like vocal agility and bold exploration of the terrain between jazz and new music. Adding to the mix of masters is Jay Anderson, a “flawless section bassist and a fleet full toned soloist” (Los Angeles Times). In addition to contributing to over 400 jazz recordings, Anderson has played with the likes of David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Chaka Khan, and legendary poet Allen Ginsberg. Renowned pianist, 2002 Fulbright Scholar and author, Armen Donelian completes the all-star lineup. A professor for 32 years at the New School College of the Performing Arts, Donelian has performed alongside jazz greats like Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker and Lionel Hampton, and is the curator of the 2019 Hudson Jazz Festival.

with Armen Donelian and Marc Mommaas
Sunday, February 17, 11am - 1pm
Free. Open to intermediate-level middle-school age or higher
Registration required. Email for more information and registration.

Join Hudson Jazzworks co-founders pianist Armen Donelian and saxophonist Marc Mommaas for a free hands-on workshop exploring the language of jazz performance and composition based on the curriculum and methods of the annual Hudson Jazz Workshop, now in its 13th year. Donelian and Mommaas offer a supportive and focused atmosphere conducive to intensive study and mutual encouragement. Students are encouraged to participate in individual and group instruction with two of today's leading practitioners of duo playing. Music teachers note: This workshop is free and open to all musicians of middle school age or higher. Bring your instrument! Intermediate playing and reading ability recommended. Every workshop participant will receive two complimentary passes to the 3pm performance by Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble.

Sunday, February 17 at 3pm
Tickets: $25

Amir Elsaffar, trumpet, santur, voice
Ole Mathisen, saxophone
George Ziadeh, oud
Zafer Tawil, violin, oud and percussion

“Gorgeous, invigorating and accessible.” – NPR Music

“Two Rivers is a stirring example of the creative possibilities of international jazz in the 21st century.” – All About Jazz

Jazz and Middle Eastern music beautifully intertwine in this dynamic ensemble led by trumpeter, santur player, and vocalist Amir ElSaffar, who has been described as “uniquely poised to reconcile jazz and Arabic music, ” (The Wire) and “one of the most promising figures in jazz today” (Chicago Tribune). Deeply rooted in the musical traditions of Iraq, Two Rivers honors its origins while possessing a unique sound that speaks the language of swing and improvisation. ElSaffar blends time-honored aspects of maqam (the system of melodic modes in traditional Arabic music) with advanced jazz harmonies, simmering grooves and polyphonic melodies. The name Two Rivers refers to the Tigris and Euphrates, the two principle rivers of Iraq, and the water sources for some of the world's earliest civilizations. Hudson Hall is thrilled to welcome ElSaffar to our own river town to close the 2019 Hudson Jazz Festival.


Adding extra spice to the festival lineup is the return of James Beard Award-winning chef Zak Pelaccio (of Hudson’s Fish & Game) and his Southeast Asian-inspired Backbar to Hudson Hall for the 2019 Hudson Jazz Festival. Jazz lovers can delight in South Asian treats while sipping award-winning cocktails, beer and wine and enjoying world-class performances in an intimate, cabaret-style setting styled by Hudson-based designer Tom Taylor of Hudson Lodge.

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