LAKE GEORGE — It’s been nearly 36 years since the late Paul Pines and John Strong created the first Lake George jazz festival. And this weekend, as it has every year since 1984, the festival offers a rare opportunity to hear some of the world’s jazz greats at the lake.
“I’m sitting in Shepard Park in September realizing how beautiful it was, and there were no activities going on, and I thought about jazz,” Strong said, adding that a friend referred him to Paul Pines, who owned a jazz club in New York City. “It was a fortunate fit. Paul had the answers, he was the programmer.”
For this year’s jazz festival on Saturday and Sunday, seven contemporary jazz artists, some Grammy-nominated, will perform. There is no admission fee for the two-day festival.
“There is an international flavor this year. We have musicians originally from Cuba and Chile and from Spain,” Strong said. “We also have a young flavor this year.”
Daniel Kelly is programming this year’s event, and the festival showcases a wide range of influences and styles.
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“He was a good friend of Paul’s and he is very much following Paul’s concept of programming,” Strong said.
The festival opens at 1 p.m. Saturday with Camila Meza & The Nectar Orchestra, followed by the Wayne Escoffery Quartet, Chano Domínguez, Piano Ibérico and Nate Smith & Kinfolk; and on Sunday, John Ellis & Double-Wide, Nicole Zuraitis and Dafnis Prieto Sextet.
Multiple Grammy-nominee pianist Chano Domínguez is one of the world’s most important and influential musicians in the history of flamenco-jazz, Strong said, adding that there will also be a flamenco dancer for the performance.
To make sure the jazz festival continues, Strong said sponsors have already donated $25,000 for next year.
For details on musicians, visit the Lake George Jazz at the Lake website at https://www.lakegeorgearts.org/event/jazz-weekend/