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Grammy-winner, friends team up to help the hungry

By Patricia Robert

John Patitucci


“Music is a great way to unite people, and with jazz being one of the most diverse art forms that exists, I think the concert will stress the importance of community and the way people come together to do good,” said John Patitucci of Hastings, three-time Grammy-winning bassist. He will lead a specially assembled band in the “Jazz 2 Benefit Yonkers Sharing Community and Hillside Food Outreach” concert at First Reformed Church next Saturday, Oct. 8, at 4 p.m.

Trinity Presbyterian Church, which holds its services at First Reformed, is presenting the concert. Patitucci is a founding member of Trinity, which was formed three years ago. “This concert falls right in with what we believe as a congregation: that love is an action verb, that we love people and are here to help people who need help, to always be of service,” he said.

Patitucci described the program as a mixture of original compositions, jazz arrangements, and spirituals. “It is an eclectic band, with everyone invested in other styles, so we are going to have a lot of fun. Plus, the group setting and the unity on stage always means that the music can go much higher in artistry and this will have an impact on the audience as well,” he concluded.

The band, which is billed as John Patitucci & Friends, will consist of gospel/jazz vocalist Ruth Naomi Floyd, pianist Randy Ingram, guitarist Jay Azzolina, who is also a Hastings resident, and drummer Nate Smith. All are considered standouts in the world of jazz and have worked with leading musicians in the genre.

Floyd has released numerous CDs dedicated to a jazz expression of her Christian faith and was recently named director of jazz studies at Cairn University in Pennsylvania. Ingram of Brooklyn is hailed as one of the most gifted jazz pianists of his generation and has been lauded for his original compositions. Azzolina, also a Hastings resident, regularly performs with the John Patitucci Band and is known for his work with Grammy-winning Spyro Gyra. He teaches music at Manhattanville College in Purchase and at the University of Rhode Island. Smith, a New York City resident, performed regularly with Dave Holland and the John Patitucci Band, among others, and was on the faculty of Betty Carter Jazz Ahead at the Kennedy Center in 2014-15.

In addition to performing with his newly formed John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet, Patitucci is scheduled to tour with the Wayne Shorter Quartet, the Chick Corea Elektric Band, and the trio, Children of the Light.

Kathy Purdy, founder and director of Hillside Food Outreach, expressed appreciation that the concert would benefit her organization.

“Quite simply, this means income which we very much need. A lot of people think that the food is for free, but it isn’t. And we deliver to 2,100 people each month, including 1,500 living in Westchester County who are housebound, unable to shop to feed their families, or are below the poverty line. Luckily, we have over 300 volunteers who not only make the deliveries, but try to develop relationships with the people they serve,” she said.

Although she has lived in Connecticut for a number of years, Purdy has deep roots in Westchester, having been born and raised in Mount Pleasant.

“It is heartwarming to know that there are people like those who are sponsoring the ‘Jazz 2 Benefit’ who acknowledge and support the important work that we do for those who have nowhere else to turn,” said Nadine Burns-Lyons, executive director of The Sharing Community. “We are the largest soup kitchen in Westchester County and feed over 150 people each day. In addition, we operate food, shelter, and AIDs prevention programs. Funds are seriously needed.”

Jim Kirk, Trinity’s pastor, is especially pleased that the benefit concert is taking place in his church. “Together we developed a community of purpose for the flourishing of the Rivertowns and the world we seek to be. We know these two organizations and how valuable and vital they are for our wider community."

Kirk was particularly pleased that Yonkers Sharing Community is one of the organizations that will share in the proceeds from the concert. He and his oldest son, Jonathan, 15, are part of their outreach program and make deliveries on the organization's behalf. Jonathan Kirk attends Hastings High School; his sister, Hannah, 11, is at Farragut Middle School and his brother, Lucas, 8, goes to Hillside Elementary School

"I am filled with gratitude to John and the world-class musicians who will come," the pastor added. "I know our community will be very supportive.”

Tickets for “Jazz 2 Benefit” at First Reformed Church, 18 Farragut Ave., Hastings, are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Children and teens are free. Go online to

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the Rivertowns Enterprise. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.


September 30, 2016

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