An outstanding program of summer concerts returns to the Weehawken waterfront as the Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center, Inc. (HRPAC) presents Summer Concerts on the Hudson 2015 beginning this week. The series is co-sponsored by the Hudson Reporter newspapers.
This series of free evening concerts starts on Wednesday, June 24 and will feature top artists from many different musical genres, including Funk, Rock ‘Roll, Soul, R&B, Jazz, Latin American, and more.
“For over a decade, Summer Concerts on the Hudson has presented world class artists to an ever expanding and appreciative audience. We are excited to once again present a terrific lineup of shows featuring exceptional talent,” said Bruce Sherman, HRPAC’s executive director. “It should be another fantastic season, worthy of the magnificent Lincoln Harbor Park setting. It’s a truly memorable experience to see and hear great music framed against the backdrop of the spellbinding Manhattan skyline.”
This year’s series starts off with a 16-piece band, Al Chez and the Brothers of Funk.
Bandleader Al Chez is a Jersey City native who has gone on to become one of the most respected trumpet players in the business. Still a resident of New Jersey, the Garden State features prominently in his career.
In 1979, he joined forces with Jon Bon Jovi as a founding member of the band Atlantic City Expressway, which played New Jersey shore clubs for years. Chez went on to play with Tower of Power, Robert Cray Band, Spyro Gyra, Sting, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, CeeLo Green, Snoop dog, James Brown and others.
Over the years Al has been an integral part of the CBS Orchestra and earlier played both trumpet and flugelhorn on “Late Night with David Letterman” on NBC. Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer calls Chez “the most dynamic trumpet virtuoso I have ever encountered. His musicianship is equaled only by his sense of showmanship.”
Al’s current passion is the Brothers of Funk, (with a few sisters too, including his daughter, Marie Rose Crouch, the vocalist on Al’s new CD called “Chapter One – Reinvented”).
His band updates the classic big band sound by creating unique interpretations of classic rock, soul, jazz and standards.
In speaking about the upcoming date, Al Chez turned a bit sentimental.
“My Dad always wanted his own band. He was a country singer in Jersey City in his youth and called himself Chet Peters. My mom was a background singer. To return to Hudson County with my band validates my father’s dream and the reason I started Al Chez and The Brothers of Funk. I can’t wait!”
The evening starts an hour earlier than usual, at 6 p.m., with opening band, Finish This, led by Weehawken resident Joey Cimino. This band is a nine piece band playing Rock ‘n Roll.
The rest of the summer schedule:
• Wednesday, July 8 at 7 p.m. – Ayo Awosika
A favorite of the downtown music scene, Ayo Awosika is developing a reputation as one of today’s best Soul and R&B singers. She just released her first full length album, produced by Grammy winner Scott Jacoby. Come discover a star in the making.
• Wednesday, July 22 at 7 p.m. – Inti-Illimani
This legendary band is one of Chile’s national treasures and its members have been celebrated as cultural heroes as well as outstanding musicians. Come and be transported as ten musicians play thirty instruments in a musical journey through South America. This is the only United States appearance this summer!
• Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. – Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith with special guest Catherine Russell
Noted saxophonist and band leader Craig Handy will lead a joyous evening inspired by New Orleans music. He’s worked with a Who’s Who of Jazz luminaries and this time has invited Grammy winning singer Catherine Russell to be his special guest. Ms. Russell is one of today’s foremost interpreters of mid-20th century American music.
Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. – Cyrille Aimée
Cyrille Aimée is a captivating presence who is widely regarded as being one of the most unique vocal stylists working in Jazz today. The New York Times referred to her most recent recording “as a bravura turn, presented with a smile.” She and her band will play standards as well as Gypsy Jazz.
All performances take place at Lincoln Harbor Park and headliners begin at 7 p.m. Rain dates, if necessary, will occur the following night after each scheduled performance. The public is requested to bring a lawn chair or blanket and encouraged to pack a picnic and enjoy the pastoral setting of Lincoln Harbor Park.
For more info, directions, and late breaking concert news and updates, please check the HRPAC website (www.hrpac.org) or call the concert info line – (201)716-4540.
Hamilton Park concerts will start this weekend
The Hamilton Park Sunday Summer Concert Series kicks off on Sunday, June 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hamilton Park, Boulevard East and Duer Place. Jeremy Beck and the Heavy Duty Horns will open the concert series.
Beck plays and sings, mixing soulful, Southern gospel and rock. His voice can soar over the top of any song, then draw you in with a hushed Tom Waits whisper. Underneath his voice the organ and keyboards which can roar like a ten ton locomotive, the wrap you up like a Stevie Wonder love song.