Adirondack Jazz Orchestra brings swing to Harborside

The Adirondack Jazz Orchestra, “Big Band of the Adirondacks,” is under the musical direction of conductor Matthew Pray. (Photo provided)

PLATTSBURGH — The Adirondack Jazz Orchestra offers a grand time Saturday evening for swinging to the beloved jazz tunes of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, Maynard Ferguson at Plattsburgh’s Harborside Stage.

For 18 years, the celebrated “Big Band of the Adirondacks” has brought together many of the finest jazz players in the Adirondacks to present professional-caliber concerts under the direction of trumpeter and bandleader Matthew Pray.

Founded when Pray was nearing completion of his degree at the Crane School of Music, the group has become one of the most sought-after bands of any genre in the entire region.

More than 130 songs fill the Adirondack Jazz Orchestra’s repertoire, from the masterpieces of the “Golden Age” of big band jazz to lively salsa and mambo numbers to original compositions created by the ensemble’s members.

Benny Goodman’s Sing, Sing, Sing, Glenn Miller’s Little Brown Jug, Duke Ellington’s Take The ‘A’ Train, and Bart Howard’s Fly Me To The Moon (made famous by Frank Sinatra) are just a few of the band’s concert staples.

More contemporary classics such as Mambo UK by Cubanismo, Gordon Goodwin’s Mueva Los Huesos, and Pray’s own Lake City Blues may appear in the group’s set list as well.

With a classic big band instrumental lineup of wind instruments — five trumpets, four trombones, and five saxophones — joined by the added flavor of the tuba, and with a powerhouse rhythm section, the group provides plenty of space for creative improvisations by their soloists with the beautiful bedrock sound of the ensemble to back them up.

Two of the group’s instrumentalists are also talented singers, adding an extra dimension to the band’s sound in their performances of treasured vocal works, sometimes imbued with some feisty improvised scat solos.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities have been scarce for an ensemble of this size to perform live gigs, making this one of the group’s few concert appearances since March 2020.

Last July, the Adirondack Jazz Orchestra performed the first concert ever on the Curbside At Harborside series, presenting an acclaimed Independence Day program.

Now, the ensemble returns to the Harborside Stage by popular demand for a sizzling encore performance.


WHO: Adirondack Jazz Orchestra at Harborside.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. for this concert.

ADMISSION: Tickets are $20 per carload (not per person) and will be available on the evening of the performance at the Harborside Lot entrance near the City of Plattsburgh Marina, behind the D&H Railway Station. (2 Dock Street is the best GPS address to use for finding this lot). All ticket sale proceeds go to the artists.

PROTOCOLS: Attendees have the option of bringing lawn chairs or blankets and listening to the music outside of their car or remaining in their vehicle and listening to the music broadcast over their car radio directly from the stage. Individuals who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 do not need to wear face masks outside of their vehicles. Audience members are respectfully requested to refrain from bringing alcohol or pets (service animals are welcome) into the Harborside Lot.


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