It’s time to stake out your space on the steps.
The Buffalo News Jazz at the Albright-Knox, the colorful Sunday afternoon jazz festival founded decades ago by News publisher emeritus Stanford Lipsey, is again on the horizon. It starts July 12 with an appearance by the legendary saxophone player Houston Person. It winds up in high style on Aug. 9 with what promises to be a couple of smoking sets by Buffalo’s own Latin jazz wizard, Wendell Rivera.
The “house band” accompanying the visiting artists will bop to the beat of Buffalo drummer Danny Hull.
Begun in 1982, the Buffalo News Jazz at the Albright-Knox is the nation’s longest-running free jazz festival. Concerts take place at 2 p.m. on the back steps of the art gallery. The festival is informal; bBlankets and picnic baskets are encouraged.
The complete schedule.
• July 12: Saxophonist Person. Person got to know Buffalo a bit from his visits here with his late wife, Etta Jones. One of their last concerts together before she died was at the 2001 Pine Grill Reunion, a festival he headlined in 2013. To hear Person free is an opportunity jazz fans should not skip.
• July 19: Saxophonist Don Rice. The appearance by Rice, whom Lipsey introduced to the Buffalo scene, has become a traditional part of the festival – and good thing, too, because it is always a highlight. His laid-back tone recalls Lester Young and Zoot Sims, and he sings, too.
• July 26: Singer Mike Costley, a native of Buffalo’s West Side,comes home from time to time.
He has appeared on the Albright-Knox lineup before, and the crowd loved him. Buffalo musicians are rejoicing in the chance to play with him.
• Aug. 2: Singer Janice Mitchell. A former Raelette, Mitchell once appeared at Jazz at the Albright-Knox in a tribute to Ray Charles. Her appearance this year will give a wider sampling of her ertoire.
• Aug. 9: Wendell Rivera. Buffalo’s most celebrated Latin jazz musicians will close the festival.
As in past years, the following Sunday, Aug. 16, is set aside as a rain date.