Jazz Spaces Ithaca Presents Monthly Series

Upstate New York room is organized by Cornell faculty

Vincent Herring
John Stetch

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The first Jazz Spaces Ithaca at the Carriage House Cafe on Sept. 6, featuring alto saxophonist Vincent Herring, pianist John White, bassist Peter Chwazik and drummer Tom Killian, was a sold-out success, said Aaron Chandler, the Front-End Manager and Music Coordinator of the Ithaca, N.Y., venue.

The event is a monthly series organized by faculty members of the Minority, Indigenous and Third World Studies Research Group at Cornell University, particularly Paul Merrill, the Gussman Director of Cornell Jazz Ensembles and Satya Mohanty, professor of English. It aims to use jazz as a way of reviving the community of Ithaca.

“Jazz Spaces Ithaca is a new and very special part of a larger community vision (shared by its ad hoc board of enthusiasts), to reactivate ‘spaces’ as social centers-places where community members of diverse backgrounds gather and interact,” Merrill said. “Jazz music is that vision at play. Community and conversation define it.”

The event takes place on the first Thursday of each month and will feature the Steve Brown Quartet on Oct 4; Tomoko Ohno on Nov. 1; and Mark Turner and John Stetch on Dec. 6.

Mohanty said that while booking the musicians, the organizers wanted to strike a balance between big names and local talent, but some of the scheduling was just luck. “I was telling Paul, who organizes the jazz festival, ‘I’d give anything to bring Mark Turner here,’ and he said he’d talk to him. Some of it is just chance,” he said.

Jazz Spaces Ithaca is only one of many jazz collaborations between the Carriage House Cafe and the Cornell Department of Music. It is the central small venue for the Annual Cornell Jazz Festival, regional and local musicians, and even the international chamber music festival, Mayfest, said Merrill.