The Jeanne O'Connor Quartet performs at Jazz on Jay Thursday afternoon. Weekly performances run each Thursday from noon to 1:30 until September 4. Drummer Pete Sweeney is seen at right.
At a glance
• Jazz on Jay will hold a performance on Jay Street from 12 to 1:30 p.m. every Thursday through Sept. 4.
• In case of bad weather, performances will be inside the Muddy Cup, located next to the Proctors box office.
• Upcoming featured performers will be the Alex Slomka Trio on June 12 and the jazz band A3 on June 19.
SCHENECTADY Smooth jazz rang out down Jay Street on Thursday, inviting people to stop by and take a listen in the shade of the trees on the pedestrian avenue.
With hardly a cloud in sight, it was the perfect day to kick off Jazz on Jay, the free outdoor concert series that has been bringing live music to downtown Schenectady for 19 years.
The Jeanne O’Connor Quartet drew many Jay Street business patrons outside to enjoy their lunches. There were about 40 seats surrounding the group, as well as tables and chairs set up in front of Ambition Coffee House and Katz Kafe, where small groups chatted over food and music.
O’Connor swayed and smiled as she sang classic tunes, including her own rendition of “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” from the musical “Guys and Dolls.” Her sweet, soulful tone had people tapping their feet and bobbing their heads, encouraging some to get up and dance around the small square.
“The union is proud to have a hand in keeping live music alive in the area. That’s our goal,” said Barret Germain, director of community programs for the Schenectady-Amsterdam Musical Union, which provides the funding for union musicians to perform on Jay Street.
This is Germain’s first year helping out with Jazz on Jay, and he’s excited to be able to provide the community with live music. “Jay Street is like the town square; this is where things really happen,” he said.
Listeners ranged from businessmen in ties to seniors in sun hats. Some meandered through, while others spent the afternoon enjoying the sites and sounds of downtown.
Dennis and Carrie Foland traveled from Middleburgh for a third year of Jazz on Jay, bringing their own lawn chairs and bagged lunches, making for a cheap but enjoyable outing.
“We’ll come out at least four times over the summer. It’s a great way to have a fun and relaxing afternoon.” said Dennis Foland.
Concert organizer Karen Johnson said most of the audience will drive out just for the concert, some arriving up to an hour early to save their seats. According to Johnson, Jazz on Jay is also an attraction for employees passing through on lunch breaks.
Carlos Grande Moran, who works at Siemens Power Technology, said he has been coming to Jazz on Jay for a few years, describing it as “a perfect way to enjoy a beautiful day.”
“This is a lot of fun for everyone. My feeling is that it gives everyone who works around here a whole new outlook on downtown Schenectady,” said Johnson. “This year is focused on jazz. We have some local artists, and there’s also going to be a mix of young and old styles from week to week.”