The New York-based jazz saxophonist’s spirit and passion for music and life are infectious. If one needs advice – on just about everything – Rivera is a thoughtful giver of knowledge, sharing his own experiences with those who need a boost, particularly young musicians. Each summer, Rivera brings his expertise to Connecticut – as a mentor and educator as well as director of operations of the Litchfield Jazz Camp and as an adviser to the Litchfield Jazz Festival.
Rivera is an alumnus of the camp and is now part of the energy and experience of a new generation of jazz performers. Whether it’s teaching music, connecting students with musicians or just taking campers on a morning run through the Connecticut countryside, Rivera’s encouragement is strong.
For me, Rivera has become a regular feature in the Roladex of experts. The mystery of jazz, and often the mystique of music itself, has been unraveled for me by the wisdom of performers like Rivera, who is just a text message or phone call away with his wit and insight. In 2016, when the music world was being decimated by the deaths of high-profile musicians like David Bowie and Prince, Rivera gave his insight on why music has such a hold on our society, why we have an insatiable need to be surrounded by sound.
Rivera returns to Connecticut this weekend – appearing Friday at Waterbury’s Poli Club at the Palace Theater at 8 p.m., and handing out his special new album to fans while supplies last.
The album, titled “Remember When: Live at the Litchfield Jazz Festival,” has an official release date of Sept. 25. The album was recorded live in 2016 at the Litchfield Jazz Festival at the Goshen Fairgrounds. The set of all-original music features a full band with many special guests, including legendary guitarist Paul Bollenback. His band for the album features Andrew Hadro, J.S. Williams, Joe Beaty, Julian Shore, Beck Burger, Ian Carroll, and Zwelakhe-Duma Bell le Pere. Rivera is dedicating his album to the fans.
“Without you, I would not exist,” Rivera wrote in a news release. “I would like to thank the Litchfield Jazz Festival, all the musicians, Vandoren and RS Berkeley for the continued artist support and everyone who has listened and have come out to shows.”
The album will be available from online streaming services and at performances like Friday’s show, as well as at the White Plains Jazz Festival on Sept. 12 and a performance at Hartford’s Black-Eyed Sally’s on Oct. 8. Fans who wish to pay for a high-quality download can find out how at albertriverajazz.com.
Rivera, who has a degree from New School University Jazz and Contemporary Music Conservatory, now has a long resume of accomplishments. He won the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award in 2009 and the 2012 Chamber Music American Residency Grant. Rivera, who plays both alto and tenor saxophones, has a style he honed by listening to classic jazz greats like John Coltrane and more contemporary sounds, like those of Joshua Redman.
For information on Friday’s shows, visit albertriverajazz.com.