Author Archives: Albert Rivera Jazz

About Albert Rivera Jazz

Bronx born and raised, with big dreams. I get to live out my life as a musician, saxophonist and composer. I'm grateful for that fact every day!

Rest Easy & Thank You. A story about a legend, Junior Mance

RIP to Junior Mance.

Junior Mance

What an amazing human being and musician with such an incredible life.Here’s a short story, as I have no doubt many will be written, it’s what happens when you’re a legend. For those who know or don’t know, I have lived most of my life as a musician in the role of band leader. I was fortunate in the beginning of my journey to be surrounded by some of the greats, giving me advice in how to succeed.

But as with most things, before I would become a leader, I first needed to learn how to be one. Junior helped with that. To this day, he is one of the few that had given me the opportunity to join him on the bandstand, to perform with him in one of his versions of his Jazz Quintet. I wish that band lasted longer, But in that time it was real education, the type one can only wish for.

We had first met back in my New School years, which quickly evolved into him being a private teacher of mine and ultimately lead to a great friendship. So much so, alongside with Andrew Hadro, we eventually got him on board for a number of years teaching during the the summers at the Litchfield Jazz Camp. If you only knew the stories I could tell, as many of us would be sitting, surrounding him at a table, until last call, drinking bottles of red wine, hearing snippets of his amazing life.

Junior was intelligent, charismatic, hysterical, a walking, talking history class and a musical genius and legend. I could go on and on. He knew that music, specifically this jazz art form, needed to be past down for it to survive. I was and will always be grateful for the opportunities he gave me, for what now seems like a lifetime ago.

It wasn’t just me, he was his own living, breathing music university. So there are many of us that will always be thankful.

So cheers to what a great life he lived. May we all be so lucky.

RIP Junior Mance – October 10th 1928 – January 17th, 2021 – 92 Years Young.

The Albert Rivera Quartet at Mediterraneo White Plains


The Albert Rivera Quartet   © Kevin R. Mason

Saxophonist Albert Rivera was accompanied by bassist Zwelakhe-Duma Bell le Pere, pianist Damian Curtis, and drummer Ian Carroll. The set was chock full of great music, and the playing was tight. Each player had stand-out moments with excellent solos. The concert included “The Chicken” and Albert’s lively, high-energy composition, “Me, Myself, and I” that really had toes tapping. Then, they performed a sublime, heart-melting rendition of “The Nearness of You.” Mediterraneo White Plains is a charming restaurant with delicious food and excellent service. Between the delectable cuisine and the outstanding music, this first stop on the Jazz Stroll could have gone on twice as long as it did. Actually, the set did last longer than the hour officially allotted. Although some people left for the next stop on the Stroll, there was still a full house as their set continued, because Albert, Zwelakhe-Duma, Damian, and Ian were just killing it! They played a festive, Latin-infused rendition of “Green Dolphin Street,” that was an utter delight. They finished their show with a lush romantic version of “I’ll Be Seeing You.” This was a stellar start to the Jazz Stroll!

Article as it appeared December 11th, 2019 on

Republican-American Feature Story (Newspaper)

CT-Music: Albert Rivera, jazz man extraordinaire

Albert Rivera is more than just a musician.He’s an inspiration.

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.

“The world needs music. You need music to live. The world would be tricky without music – it would be a really messed up place,” Rivera said, adding that music is within us, and always around us. “We are born with a heartbeat of a consistent rhythm and we enter a world surrounded by sound. We cannot live without music, and sound, in the world.”

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

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

Article originally appeared on all rights reserved

MLK Jr On Jazz

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr On The Importance Of Jazz

On the Importance of Jazz

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Opening Address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:

God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.

Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.

This is triumphant music.

Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.

It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.

Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.

And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.

In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.

On Transience

On Transience

By Sigmund Freud

Translation by James Strachey

Not long ago I went on a summer walk through a smiling countryside in the company of a taciturn friend and of a young but already famous poet. The poet admired the beauty of the scene around us but felt no joy in it. He was disturbed by the thought that all this beauty was fated to extinction, that it would vanish when winter came, like all human beauty and all the beauty and splendor that men have created or may create. All that he would otherwise have loved and admired seemed to him to be shorn of its worth by the transience which was its doom.

The proneness to decay of all that is beautiful and perfect can, as we know, give rise to two different impulses in the mind. The one leads to the aching despondency felt by the young poet, while the other leads to rebellion against the fact asserted. No! it is impossible that all this loveliness of Nature and Art, of the world of our sensations and of the world outside, will really fade away into nothing. It would be too senseless and too presumptuous to believe it. Somehow or other this loveliness must be able to persist and to escape all the powers of destruction.

But this demand for immortality is a product of our wishes too unmistakable to lay claim to reality: what is painful may none the less be true. I could not see my way to dispute the transience of all things, nor could I insist upon an exception in favour of what is beautiful and perfect. But I did dispute the pessimistic poet’s view that the transience of what is beautiful involves any loss in its worth.

On the contrary, an increase! Transience value is scarcity value in time. Limitation in the possibility of an enjoyment raises the value of the enjoyment. It was incomprehensible, I declared, that the thought of the transience of beauty should interfere with our joy in it. As regards the beauty of Nature, each time it is destroyed by winter it comes again next year so that in relation to the length of our lives it can in fact be regarded as eternal. The beauty of the human form and face vanish forever in the course of our own lives, but their evanescence only lends them a fresh charm. A flower that blossoms only for a single night does not seem to us on that account less lovely. Nor can I understand any better why the beauty and perfection of a work of art or of an intellectual achievement should lose its worth because of its temporal limitation. A time may indeed come when the pictures and statues which we admire to-day will crumble to dust, or a race of men may follow us who no longer understand the works of our poets and thinkers, or a geological epoch may even arrive when all animate life upon the earth ceases; but since the value of all this beauty and perfection is determined only by its significance for our own emotional lives, it has no need to survive us and is therefore independent of absolute duration.

These considerations appeared to me incontestable; but I noticed that I had made no impression either upon the poet or upon my friend. My failure led me to infer that some powerful emotional factor was at work which was disturbing their judgment, and I believed later that I had discovered what it was. What spoilt their enjoyment of beauty must have been a revolt in their minds against mourning. The idea that all this beauty was transient was giving these two sensitive minds a foretaste of mourning over its decease; and, since the mind instinctively recoils from anything that is painful, they felt their enjoyment of beauty interfered with by thoughts of its transience.

Mourning over the loss of something that we have loved or admired seems so natural to the layman that he regards it as self-evident. But to psychologists mourning is a great riddle, one of those phenomena which cannot themselves be explained but to which other obscurities can be traced back. We possess, as it seems, a certain amount of capacity for love—what we call libido—which in the earliest stages of development is directed towards our own ego. Later, though still at a very early time, this libido is diverted from the ego on to objects, which are thus in a sense taken into our ego. If the objects are destroyed or if they are lost to us, our capacity for love (our libido) is once more liberated; and it can then either take other objects instead or can temporarily return to the ego. But why it is that this detachment of libido from its objects should be such a painful process is a mystery to us and we have not hitherto been able to frame any hypothesis to account for it. We only see that libido clings to its objects and will not renounce those that are lost even when a substitute lies ready to hand. Such then is mourning.

My conversation with the poet took place in the summer before the war. A year later the war broke out and robbed the world of its beauties. It destroyed not only the beauty of the countrysides through which it passed and the works of art which it met with on its path but it also shattered our pride in the achievements of our civilization, our admiration for many philosophers and artists and our hopes of a final triumph over the differences between nations and races. It tarnished the lofty impartiality of our science, it revealed our instincts in all their nakedness and let loose the evil spirits within us which we thought had been tamed forever by centuries of continuous education by the noblest minds. It made our country small again and made the rest of the world far remote. It robbed us of very much that we had loved, and showed us how ephemeral were many things that we had regarded as changeless.

We cannot be surprised that our libido, thus bereft of so many of its objects, has clung with all the greater intensity to what is left to us, that our love of our country, our affection for those nearest us and our pride in what is common to us have suddenly grown stronger. But have those other possessions, which we have now lost, really ceased to have any worth for us because they have proved so perishable and so unresistant? To many of us this seems to be so, but once more wrong, in my view. I believe that those who think thus, and seem ready to make a permanent renunciation because what was precious has proved not to be lasting, are simply in a state of mourning for what is Lost. Mourning, as we know, however painful it may be coming to a spontaneous end. When it has renounced everything that has been lost, then it has consumed itself, and our libido is once more free (in so far as we are still young and active) to replace the lost objects by fresh ones equally or still more precious. It is to be hoped that the same will be true of the losses caused by this war. When once the mourning is over, it will be found that our high opinion of the riches of civilization has lost nothing from our discovery of their fragility. We shall build up again all that war has destroyed, and perhaps on firmer ground and more lastingly than before.