The Upstate Beat: Cliff Brucker’s Full Circle to celebrate career of saxophonist Leo Russo

Jazz fans tend to agree that two of the greatest saxophonists to come from the metropolitan area are Nick Brignola, who died in 2002, and the lesser-known but equally talented Leo Russo.

But the two saxophonists couldn’t be more different, explains longtime jazz drummer, pianist, bandleader and Niskayuna resident Cliff Brucker. 26).

“Nick was a hard bebop player. He hit a lot of notes really fast. Leo is really laid back,” says Blacker. “He has a beautiful tone that is more in line with the famous Stan Getz, who had a soft, mellow sound.”

Russo’s understated tone and understated personality have kept him out of the limelight over the years, but his legacy is less important and worth celebrating, said Linda to honor her 86-year career. Says Brooker, who organized the show, a year-old saxophonist.

A “local legend,” as Brucker describes him, Russo worked and recorded with jazz heavyweights in Los Angeles in the 1950s and ’60s before returning to the metropolitan area to support his family. , taught music at Troy High School.

“Everyone who knew Leo, from his big fans to jazz critics and aficionados, considers him very special,” says Blacker. “Nobody has come out of this realm with his sound like him. Leo is instantly recognizable. He and Nick are world-class musicians who will always be remembered.”

The Tonight Show at Linda celebrates the decades-long musical friendship between Russo and Blacker, a longtime faculty member at St. Rose University and SUNY Schenectady, before retiring from the latter in 2021. There are also things.

“I heard him play in the mid-’80s,” says Blacker. “I called him up. We clicked and became instant friends. We’ve done hundreds of gigs together over the years. He turned 80 in 2016 when he was teaching at , built a state-of-the-art music studio there, and I said, ‘Let’s record.’ I have to wax Leo. ”

Russo has now recorded two albums with Brucker, ‘Full Circle’ and ‘Full Circle Vol. 2’, both released to critical acclaim.

Promising to be a masterclass in accessible, swinging jazz, Linda’s show marks another milestone in Russo’s legacy.

In addition to Russo and Blacker, the sextet includes guitarist Mike Novakowski, impassioned young trumpeter Dylan Canterbury, and several illness-related replacements. Capital Region jazz stalwart Pete Toigo covers bass for Full Circle member Otto Gardner, while renowned local pianist Pete Levin sits in for regular pianist Larry Hamm.

“Leo will always be known as a local legend of world-class ability who chose to come home and make music here,” says Blacker. “It’s never too late to bow.”

Plan of this week

— The Danish String Quartet came to Albany on Saturday with a modern arrangement of Nordic folk music and an intense and dynamic sound for an afternoon performance at SUNY Albany’s Downtown Page Hall (135 Western Ave., Albany). Join the Classic Program.3 pm

— Philadelphia Freedom, an Elton John tribute act, will hold a down-to-earth, godly review of Mr. Captain Fantastic on Saturday at Frog Alley Brewing Company, 108 State St., Schenectady I promise8 pm

— Former John Spencer Blues Explosion explosive frontman and guitarist Jon Spencer, who last played at Albany’s Valentine Music Hall circa 2013, opened Tuesday with a great new combo (The HITmakers) Return to this region with Akuto (Bloodshot). Bill) is his one of the most exciting line-ups for 2023. Lark Hall (351 Hudson Ave., Albany).8 pm

Reach Kirsten Ferguson [email protected]

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