Jazz Generations: Professor and Students Jam in White Plains

by Arielle Young

The cross-generational fusion of old and new jazz was palpable on Sunday, Sept. 17, when professor Pete Malinverni accompanied the Purchase Jazz All-Stars at an outdoor festival in White Plains, N.Y.

Despite the humid weather and gray skies, the music was crisp and colorful, as drummer Daniel Criado, bassist Jason Clotter, and saxophonist Nick Green entertained the crowds that had come to the last day of the White Plains Jazz and Food Festival. Malinverni, who works with the student group as a faculty advisor, joined in on keyboard.

The All-Stars, made up entirely of students, was created specifically for this event when Malinverni was invited by Arts Westchester to perform at the festival himself. The festival, now in its sixth year, wanted to showcase some talented student performers and asked Malinverni to round up the talent. The All-Stars let Green do most of the talking. The Brooklyn native’s statements were always brief but humorous, and usually in song.

“I said, ‘Jason, I love the way you play. Keep going. Play that bass all day,’” Green sang playfully.

The live music, which kicked off at noon, stretched down Mamaroneck Avenue and piqued the curiosities of wandering shoppers. The crowd, which started at roughly 25, grew to well over 80 in less than a half hour.

“I stopped by to look at the jewelry store, stayed for the music,” Scarsdale resident Patricia Hamilton said with a laugh.

The jazz festival not only promoted jazz appreciation, but offered greater accessibility to the arts, explained Debbie Scates, director of marketing for Arts Westchester. “Westchester is full of hidden gems,” she said. “This event is important for bringing them all together in one place so people can appreciate the artists.”

With blue drums, a golden sax and a warm hazel bass, the All-Stars played mostly bebop, a style of jazz that was highly popular in the middle of the last century. The group played on a large metal-plated stage and elicited countless rounds of applause. From Malinverni’s infectious smile at the keyboard to Green’s pink-faced enthusiasm on the sax, each musician had his chance to jam out a solo. They blasted the street with a fine array of tunes that gave tribute to greats like John Coltrane and Charles Mingus.

A particular highlight during the set was Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady.” It featured the bouncing shoulders and skipping fingers of elated bassist Clotter, as he emerged from the background to the forefront. Criado then complemented Clotter with a drum solo that dominated the stage and further stoked the crowd’s enthusiasm.

As the music came to an end, the sun finally appeared from behind the clouds. “Music is the listening art,” Green said after his performance. “Keep listening and searching for what excites you. It’s hard to create something new or add your own thing to the music without the inspiration of other musicians you really love. It’s a very personal thing.”

The value of the performance is priceless in the eyes of aspiring musicians. “This is one more of a consistent stream of things we do in our Jazz Studies program that actually puts our students to work,” Malinverni said, “further preparing them for viability in the professional world.”