Hundreds attend Scranton Jazz Festival

The leader of acclaimed jazz band Spyro Gyra sees Scranton as “a town on a comeback.”

In his travels across the country with the band, Jay Beckenstein has learned that the secret to getting people to a downtown is to make it attractive and livable.

The saxophonist sees that in Scranton.

More than 800 people attended Spyro Gyra’s performance at the Scranton Jazz Festival on Saturday night. The Grammy-nominated band, whose style Mr. Beckenstein described as ranging from “Caribbean to R&B,” brought people to their feet — and to downtown.

Bob Shlesinger, a co-founder of the festival, started the annual event to bring something unique to the city. Eleven years later, Mr. Shlesinger expected to sell between 3,000 and 4,000 tickets during the three-day festival.

Under the covered back area at the Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, people tapped their feet to the music of the Nate Birkey Group and bought the musicians’ albums.

“The music is as top-shelf as you can find,” Mr. Shles­inger said. “People are not going to walk away disappointed.”

Bruce Keib and his family sat near the stage, excited to hear Spyro Gyra — one of Mr. Keib’s favorite bands. The Clarks Summit resident first took his sons to see the band play in Binghamton, New York, 25 years ago.

“I knew I had to come see them tonight,” he said.

After Spyro Gyra played its last song, festival attendees visited other Jazz Walk venues, including Adezzo, the Bog, Ale Mary’s and Posh, where other bands played their set lists.

The jazz festival continues today. For a full schedule, visit scrantonjazzfestival.org.

Contact the writer:
shofius@timesshamrock.com, @hofiushallTT on Twitter

The Times-Tribune