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Lake George Jazz Weekend celebrates its 30th with a stellar lineup

Award-winning, innovative bassist Ben Williams performs with a member of his Quintet 'Sound Effect.' The group will be on stage at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Shepard Park, Lake George during the two-day Lake George Jazz Weekend, set for Saturday Sept. 14 and Sunday Sept. 15. Seven acclaimed jazz groups will be performing in a lineup that starts at 1 p.m. both days. A highlight of the festival is a special performance at 7 p.m. Saturday evening featuring the legendary vibraphone master Gary Burton.

Award-winning, innovative bassist Ben Williams performs with a member of his Quintet 'Sound Effect.' The group will be on stage at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Shepard Park, Lake George during the two-day Lake George Jazz Weekend, set for Saturday Sept. 14 and Sunday Sept. 15. Seven acclaimed jazz groups will be performing in a lineup that starts at 1 p.m. both days. A highlight of the festival is a special performance at 7 p.m. Saturday evening featuring the legendary vibraphone master Gary Burton.

— Lake George Jazz Weekend curator Paul Pines said that he, too questioned 30 years ago whether the festival would endure in Lake George.

“We all wondered whether it would take hold, but 30 years later, it’s become an anchor event,” he said. “It’s amazing to stop and reflect 30 years later that the jazz festival is healthy, vital and has undiminished energy. There are middle-aged people attending now that literally grew up with this event, people who first came here as kids.”

Pines said the essence of this year’s festival is twofold — the musicians all are composers as well as instrumentalists, and they represent a wide range of idioms.

“This year’s festival combines masters and younger cutting edge musicians,” Pines said.

The veteran jazz artists onstage include Gary Burton, 70, credited as a pioneer with the vibraphone, and Dave Liebman, a woodwind player and band leader pronounced by the National Endowment of the Arts as a Jazz Master. Burton was bestowed a lifetime achievement award, reflecting his 40+ years winning jazz polls.

Burton, who’s won seven Grammy awards, just released his memoir, and the jazz innovator will be signing the book at the festival.

Another notable performer is Michele Rosewoman, who Downbeat magazine has called “One of the under-the-radar stars of American music.”

The festival serves a celebration of the release of Rosewoman’s new double CD, which sums up her 30 years of compositions and arrangements for her 11-piece ensemble, the New Yor-Uba New Yor-Uba Project, noted for their African, Caribbean and progressive jazz.

The younger, cutting-edge performers in the festival include Ben Williams, winner of the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Bass Competition, with his quintet Sound Effect. He’s been declared by a reviewer to be at the forefront of a new generation of jazz players.

Also an innovator is Joel Harrison composer/guitarist who teams up with the Anupam Shobhakar and his quintet, Leave the Door Open.

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