Since February, State College area jazz lovers have been treated to a different type of setting for their listening enjoyment with The State Theatre’s Jazz in the Attic series. This month, Lancaster saxophonist Ryan Kauffman will bring his trio to town for a performance on July 8.
The origins of Jazz in the Attic date back a few years to former State Theatre Executive Director Richard Biever, who initiated the concept of having cabaret style performances in the attic.
“We tried it a couple of times a few years ago and it was a success, but we didn’t have the resources to continue it,” said Rick Hirsch, State College jazz saxophonist, composer and unofficial artistic director of the Jazz in the Attic series.
More recently, Executive Director Greg Ray expressed interest in programming more jazz.
“Greg and I put our heads together and thought we’d try this jazz cabaret series once again,” Hirsch said. “We started it in February with Arthur Goldstein’s quartet. We’ve had a show once a month since then, and it’s been going very, very well.”
A saxophonist and private teacher in central and eastern Pennsylvania, Kauffman leads his own jazz groups and has performed throughout the Mid-Atlantic, including appearances at the Bethlehem Musikfest, Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz, Lancaster Jazz Festival, Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival and Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival.
Through the years, Kauffman has performed with Ron Thomas, Tim Warfield, the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra and the Manhattan Saxophone Ensemble.
Designed to be a pure listening environment, the attic is set up with all cabaret-style seating, with small round tables that seat a few people. The bar and the snack bar downstairs are open, so people can snack and get beer, wine and soda.
“What’s cool about it is that it’s like a true nightclub setting,” Hirsch said. “It’s really like a true jazz club, and they can just listen to live music in an intimate setting.”
Hirsch is very familiar with Kauffman’s work and musicianship, as he has known the Lancaster-based saxophonist for a number of years.
“We play together once a month in a 16-piece big band in Harrisburg, called the River City Big Band,” Hirsch said. “We both play saxophone in the section.”
Kauffman’s trio also features drummer Chris Loser and Steve Meashey, a bassist from Lebanon. The group is unique in that it has no piano or guitar player.
“It’s a really interesting group because they have a great dynamic among the musicians — a lot of communication going on,” Hirsch said. “It’s really engaging to watch them perform.”
The Ryan Kauffman Triology will be the fifth performance for the Jazz in the Attic series, which has already featured the Arthur Goldstein Jazz Quartet, jazz vocalist Elizabeth Webb, the Rick Hirsch 4 and the Dan Yoder Quartet. Jay Vonada’s Organ Trio East is scheduled to close out the series on Aug. 12.
Kauffman’s trio is the first group outside of State College to perform in the series, and Hirsch said he is looking forward to expanding it over the next year.
“There are so many great musicians just in Pennsylvania within a few hours’ drive of here,” he said. “So we’re really looking to expand to more regional musicians. To come here every year — that’s on the horizon.”
IF YOU GO
- What: Jazz in the Attic: Ryan Kauffman’s Triology
- When: 8 p.m. July 8
- Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
- Info: http://thestatetheatre.org/jazz-in-the-attic/