CNY Jazz Orchestra is back in force in April with a show in downtown Syracuse


The famed Central New York Jazz Orchestra, founded in 1996 and now in its 26th year, will perform a “comeback” cabaret concert on the historic Persian Terrace of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 10. Joining them will be national guests Kim Nazarian of the New York Voices, Jay Ashby on trombone and new music director Clay Jenkins leading the 16-piece CNYJO. An opening set will be performed by the Le Moyne Jazzuits conducted by Carol Jacobe, and Ms. Nazarian will also sit with the student vocal jazz ensemble. A cash bar and buffet will be available for an additional charge. Tickets are on sale now at or 315-479-5299.

The long-delayed concert, originally scheduled for April 2020, will bring the orchestra back to the stage for the first time in more than two years. “We had scheduled our first rehearsal for this concert in March 2020, and of course the shutdown ended all of that,” said CNY Jazz’s Larry Luttinger. “Coming back, after such a long hiatus, will be like a class reunion for the band and our audience. I guarantee you will never see more playing and singing enthusiasts than you will meet at this event.

Both guest artists have strong ties to central and upstate New York. Kim Nazarian is a world-renowned, Grammy-nominated jazz artist, educator, and clinician who has performed around the world with the iconic “New York Voices” jazz vocal quartet for over 30 years. A graduate of Ithaca College, she is a dedicated educator, still teaching IC remotely. Besides his numerous recordings with the New York Voices, Kim Nazarian can be heard on numerous projects as a soloist. She has recorded with Paquito Rivera, Gary Burton, John Pizzarelli and Sean Jones, among others, and was one of the voices chosen to sing on Bobby McFerrin’s “VOCAbuLarieS” CD.

Her Baldwinsville native husband Jay Ashby will conduct and play trombone. A five-time Grammy Award-winning producer, he is known for his performances with music icons such as Paul Simon and Astrud Gilberto. Ashby has performed, toured and recorded with some of the most renowned jazz artists in the industry. A member of Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra and Dizzy’s Alumni All-Star Big Band, he has performed with jazz greats including Jon Faddis, Monty Alexander, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Randy Brecker, Slide Hampton, Tania Maria, Claudio Roditi and Bennie. Green, among many others.

Musical direction for the CNYJO portion of the concert will be provided by trumpeter Clay Jenkins, who will lead the band through a series of selections, some of which have been made famous by two bands of which he has been a member for many years, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the Count Basie Orchestra. He also recorded touring time with the Stan Kenton and Buddy Rich big bands. He has been a faculty member at the Eastman School of Music since 2000.

Larry Luttinger concluded: “We are honored to have Clay leading the group. He will bring excitement and virtuosity to our sound. The CNY Jazz Orchestra is ready for its next quarter century. May it last forever.

CNY Jazz Cabarets showcase international talent in a club atmosphere, with a cash bar and affordable food stations available. Valet parking is available and CNY Jazz Club discount card holders will receive 10% off food and beverages.

If you are going to

WHO: The Central New York Jazz Orchestra with Kim Nazarian and Jay Ashby

What: CNY Jazz Spring Cabaret Concert

Or: Persian Terrace, Marriott Syracuse Downtown, 100 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse

When: Sunday, April 10, 4 p.m.

Tickets: $30 advance, $35 door, $10 student card at or 315-479-5299

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Henry R. Wright