The White Plains Examiner

White Plains Jazz Fest Begins Today

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Bernie Williams
Bernie Williams

The Art Bennett Quartet will kick off on Friday at 12:10 p.m. with a free concert at Downtown Music at Grace at 33 Church Street.

Saxophonist Art Bennett, a White-Plains native, was very active in the “Loft Jazz” movement in New York City during the 1970s. A master of the “free jazz” tradition, he is skilled in the experimental, avant-garde art form known for its emphasis on collective improvisation. The quartet also features Sonelius Smith on piano, Ed Petillo on bass and Steve Dunn on drums.

Later Friday evening at 8 p.m. ArtsWestchester, located at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, presents the Latin jazz sounds of Bobby Sanabria & Quarteto Ache. Tickets for this performance are available for $35 and $50 and include light refreshments provided courtesy of Sofrito and Pernod Ricard USA.

Sanabria is a leading percussionist in the Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and jazz communities. He has played with legendary performers Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente and Arturo Sandoval. Quarteto Aché, was named for the concept of positive energy that sizzles whenever Sanabria and his ensembles take the stage.

Saturday, Sept. 2, the festivities continue with a free concert at the White Plains Public Library from 2 to 3 p.m. by the Julia Breanetta Simpson trio with a Tribute to Duke Ellington.

Comedian Bill Cosby, a big jazz enthusiast is also in town on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Westchester County Center. In cooperation with Irwin Kornfeld of Westchester Media, Cosby agreed to co-market his event with the Jazz Fest to support the local musicians.

Saturday night from 9 p.m. to midnight, featured artists from five years of Live Jazz at the Arts Exchange will include the Dennis Bell Jazz NY Trio with Lynette Washington and the Butch Jones Quintet, hosted by ArtsWestchester. $20 ticket includes complimentary beverage courtesy of Pernod Ricard USA. This event promises to be a hot and soulful treat for the jazz connoisseur.

The weekend culminates in the White Plains International Food and Jazz Festival, held outdoors on Mamaroneck Avenue between Main Street and Martine Avenue in White Plains.

The event is free and features a growing list of local restaurants, many offering samples from their menus. Music begins at 11:30 a.m. with the Pro-Am Ensemble followed by the Ray Blue Quartet, Sage, Gilberto Colon Jr. & Ensalade De Pulpo, and finishing with White Plains’ own Bernie Williams with Gil Parris from 4 to 5 p.m.

The musicians cover different jazz styles from Ray Blue who offers a unique fusion of jazz with African groove to the all-female group Sage with their own blues style to the Latin Jazz and Afro-Caribbean music of Gilberto Colon Jr.

Former All-Star player for the New York Yankees Bernie Williams is a regular performer at some of the quiet spots along the White Plains Avenue. When he heard the Jazz Fest was set to go another year, he wanted to play the outdoor stage in his own hometown White Plains.

Williams, a Grammy nominated musician, is a classically trained guitarist, whose instrument was a constant presence in his team locker and equipment bag. He has developed a sound that combines jazz, classical, pop Brazilian and Latin styles. His two CDs have climbed to the top of Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Charts. For Jazz Fest, he will be joined by Gil Parris, Grammy-nominated rock, blues, jazz and pop guitarist. The two powerhouse talents, together, are expected to deliver a special performance.

Jazz Fest 2013 is a collaborative effort of the City of White Plains Recreation and Parks Department, The White Plains BID, ArtsWestchester and the Westchester County Office of Tourism. Together these organizations combined efforts to find top talent and sponsors, and market the event vigorously, all with the joint goal to grow the downtown of White Plains as a cultural center and destination location.

To complement the event, The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, Renaissance Westchester Hotel and Crowne Plaza offered special weekend packages complete with tickets for Jazz Fest weekend.

Both Doris Mady of the White Plains BID and Janet Langsam, Executive Director of ArtsWestchester, say they expect record numbers to arrive in White Plains over the weekend.

Sounds like my kind of party. Hope to see you there.

For more information and to purchase tickets to select events visit

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