Richard "Cookie" Thomas will open this year's Jazz on the Plaza concert series
The outdoor Plaza at Stamford Town Center is the ‘go?to?place’ this summer for ‘live’ jazz entertainment every Wednesday night in Stamford Downtown starting this week.
Regional jazz musicians and students from the Stamford Young Artists Philharmonic Summer Jazz Workshop will perform every Wednesday from June 23 through August 25 from 6-9pm in a summer concert series called “Jazz on the Plaza, presented by The Stamford Young Artists Philharmonic”. Jazz artists will perform a variety of musical selections under a tent outside of Barnes & Noble to entertain patio diners at the mall’s six outdoor restaurants.
According to the mall’s Director of Marketing, Jim Zielinski, “The summer jazz series is unique to the area in that it features talented local and regional musicians in an intimate setting to showcase their talents”. He added, “We’re thrilled to have radio station Star 99.9 FM kick off the series with a live broadcast on June 23.”
The premiere event features Stamford’s renowned recording artist Richard ‘Cookie’ Thomas. A versatile vocalist, Cookie’s career began in Philadelphia in 1960 when he had the opportunity, at fourteen, to open for B.B. King. Richard currently performs at many venues in the New York and Connecticut markets where he draws large audiences.
Other local headliners of “Jazz on the Plaza” include the Maria Tiscia Quartet performing on July 7. Maria is a sensitive singer who focuses on sound and intonation, always exhibiting an honest, heart-felt delivery with a minimum of affectation. Over the years she has performed in small jazz groups and on record dates with many of New York’s finest jazz players.
On August 4, the high-energy and multi-faceted group, The Juicy Grapes, arrives with a masterful combination of rock, soul, jazz and funk fusion. It’s a blend of hippie Motown swing with ‘get out of your seat and shake it’ grooves. The Juicy Grapes hail from southern CT where their loyal and lively following has made them an area favorite. Their unique vibe seamlessly mixes the sultry and the playful, the cosmic and the universal.
The BC Jazz Quintet, a group of five outstanding musicians from Norwalk and Stamford, will perform on August 11. Many of the members have worked previously in two very successful wedding and special occasion dance bands and currently the BC Jazz Quintet plays jazz standards recreated extraordinarily to sell out crowds at local establishments. Group members include: Bruce Coviello, Tony DiCerto, Jim Licari, Raphael Carruthers and Josh Carruthers.
Richard “Cookie” Thomas will present an encore performance on August 18 with another live broadcast from Star 99.9FM.
The Joe Sinaguglia Quartet is the featured artist from the Young Artists Workshop, and will close this year’s “Jazz on the Plaza” summer concert series on August 25. Joe is a bassist and graduate of Stamford High School and an alumnus of Stamford Young Artists Philharmonic. An up-and-comer on the New York music scene, Joe attended The Collective in NYC, where he garnered the attention of professionals who recommended him to sub as electric bassist for the Jaco Pastorius Big Band, with which he became a featured performer. A member of the Tim Ouimette Big Band, Joe also teaches bass privately and coaches the Young People’s Jazz Ensemble and Young Artists Summer Jazz Workshop.
The students of the Young Artist Summer Jazz Workshop consist of up to 50 young musicians who practice together during two-weeks of the summer. Members are from throughout Connecticut and Westchester County. Student and alumnus members from the Young Artist program will perform with their bands during Jazz on the Plaza in July. Student performances include: The Dan Lipsitz Quartet on July 14, The American Jazz Quintet on July 21 and another group from the Young Artist Summer Jazz Workshop on July 28.
The Dan Lipsitz Quartet is made up of college students from the Connecticut/New York area. Primarily performing in the New York City area at venues such as the Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village and hosting a popular monthly jazz jam session at the jazz hotspot Billie’s Black Restaurant/Bar in Harlem, the members of the quartet are beginning to develop their names in the jazz as well as rock, funk, and gospel communities.
The American Jazz Quintet plays a combination of jazz and funk, and originated as a subset of the Westhill High School jazz ensemble. The group was formed last year and make its debut at Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia’s Inauguration. Members include Lee Gordon (piano/guitar), Joey Howlett (tenor saxophone), Matt Murphy (alto saxophone), Sam Enright (bass) and Zach Matarasso (drums).
Joyce DiCamillo, the Executive Director of the Stamford Young Artist Philharmonic Orchestra helped organize the summer jazz series with the mall. The Stamford Young Artists Philharmonic is dedicated to enhancing the lives of aspiring young musicians throughout Fairfield County. Ms. DiCamillo also coordinates holiday entertainment through a grant to the organization from Stamford Town Center merchants.
All concerts during the mall’s “Jazz on the Plaza” Series are free, courtesy of George Boyce State Farm Agency, Stamford Plus Magazine, Atria Senior Living, and Cox Radio. Seating is available on a first come, first serve basis in the outdoor patios of the Plaza restaurants including Capital Grille, Mitchell’s Fish Market, PF Changs, Kona Grill, California Pizza Kitchen or Cosi.
For a complete list of performances, dates and biographies of all performers, visit the mall website, www.shopstamfordtowncenter.com/jazz.
Stamford Town Center, with Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and 130 fine stores, is located at Exit 8 off I-95, at the intersection of Tresser and Greyrock in the heart of Stamford Downtown. Shopping hours are 10:00 am to 9:00pm Monday through Saturday and 11:00 am to 6:00pm Sunday. Sit-down restaurants located in the new Plaza wing of the mall have extended operating hours. Preview the stores, the styles, the sales at www.shopstamfordtowncenter.com.