It was over 90 degrees in the shade yesterday, but that didn’t stop Janna and me from walking up to Riverview Park in Jersey City to spend a day listening to some great live music during the very first Jersey City Heights Jazz Festival.

The show started off a bit slow with a confused, and noisy, performance that had big problems with the microphones and speakers — everything was painfully distorted and muddled and just plain too loud — and so we decided to take a little walk around the neighborhood and try again in an hour.

What a difference 60 minutes makes!

When we sauntered back to the festival, a new group was on the makeshift stage — New Tricks, led by Ted Chubb — and the entire vibe of the scene had changed for the better.  The sound was fixed.  The horns were ripe and hot.  The bassline was killer.  The drums set a groove that few others could ever hope to match.  The performances were breathtaking.

Ted told us that the drummer, Carmen Intorre, was “on loan” from Pat Martino — and I have to say that every effort needs to be make to get Carmen solidly in the group forever.

The drummer is the engine of any musical endeavor — and without a righteous thump that never breaks and doesn’t wander — everything falls apart.  New Tricks stood on its head yesterday, and the base for that feat was That Unbendable Intorre Beat.

The reason I am so certain that New Tricks was extra hot yesterday because of Carmen Intorre — and not just because of the heat — is because I immediately raced home and purchased their “Alternate Side” album from iTunes and I was disappointed.

The vibe of the album was not as great as it was live — that’s partially a recording problem, not a performance issue — but the entire album also had no energy.  Sure, the horns were popping, but the underlying pulse that lifts all melodies was just not there.  Carmen Intorre is not an official member of New Tricks. Tell me where I can purchase the live New Tricks set from yesterday starring Carmen Intorre and I’ll pay all over again!

Overall, the Jersey City Heights Riverview Jazz Festival was an awesome event in its infancy year.  The people who attended the event were alive and lively, and the folks in charge of the show were communicative and supportive of the neighborhood and the performers.  I can’t wait for next year!

(UPDATE:  I just found, and purchased, a Carmen Intorre album on iTunes if you want to get a taste of his groove! It’s quite excellent!)


  1. Oh what fun – so glad you took a walk and came back to be thrilled …… I love this kind of musical endeavour – I am discovering a whol new love for music of all kinds – performing/listening outside opens so many different horizons and skill sets for the musicians and audience alike.

    1. Yes, we were happy to see the park alive with music and lots of vendors, but we didn’t know this was the first one ever when we first arrived.

      Later, when we decided to return, and everything was in High Groove — and we found out this was the first shot at the festival — we were massively impressed.

      I’m not much of a horns Jazz guy — I prefer the guitar old timers — but Ted Chubb can blow, boy, and a live horn is incredibly expressive and rich and toneful. I have a whole new appreciation! SMILE!

  2. I always associate jazz with hot weather! Despite the natural discomfort of it being 90 in the shade when you were there, maybe it added to the overall feel of the performance– like the music was bouncing off the heat, and then providing relief to the crowd!

    I checked out Intorre’s album and was not disappointed. “Good for the Soul” especially paints a mental image of sitting on a stoop during a hot summer afternoon, maybe listening to that very song crackling from a radio.

    1. I couldn’t help thinking how miserable the guys were on stage in the sweaty wet heat of the day, but then I realized that a lot of these summer Jazz festivals are outside, and dealing with the elements is a big part of the show.

      The Intorre album has been playing since I wrote the article update. Killer stuff. He’s a machine! SMILE!

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