Finger Lakes Times reporter Mike Maslanik caught up with Bob Masteller ’60 to learn more about the jazz festival he’s bringing to HWS starting Aug. 1. The article explains that the festival grew from conversations between Masteller and Erica Cooney-Conner, HWS’s director of conferences and events, “who saw an opportunity to reach out to the community as part of the Colleges’ Geneva Partnership.” For Masteller, the deal-clincher was the ability to help young musicians — the event will help support the St. Peter’s Community Arts Academy scholarship fund. The article quoted him as saying “I’ve had wonderful meetings with the Colleges and the community, and I feel like we have a strong commitment to set this up to succeed. As for the Arts Academy, if there’s anything we can do to take it to the next level, we will.” The three-day festival will feature performances by Masteller and fellow-alum Alexander Scheeren ’60, as well as former HWS professor Bill Atwell, playing alongside some of the premier jazz musicians in central New York, including pianist Dave Solazzo, of Syracuse, and bassist Bill Kahl, of Auburn. Read the complete article below.
Finger Lakes Times “HWS Alum Jazzes Up Geneva Trumpet player will headline festival to support St. Peter’s Arts Academy” Mike Maslanik • July 6, 2008 The swinging, sensual sounds of jazz will drift across the Finger Lakes later this summer at a new music festival organized by a Hobart College graduate. On the weekend of Aug. 1, trumpet player and jazz club owner Bob Masteller will headline what he hopes will be an annual festival at Houghton House. More than just an opportunity to listen to “America’s classical music,” the event will help support the St. Peter’s Community Arts Academy scholarship fund. Known around Hobart and William Smith Colleges as their “jazz man,” for enlivening Alumni Weekend with his hot trumpet licks, Masteller said he’s eager to bring the music back to his alma mater and help children develop a love of music in the process. “I’ve had wonderful meetings with the colleges and the community, and I feel like we have a strong commitment to set this up to succeed,” he said. “As for the Arts Academy, if there’s anything we can do to take it to the next level, we will.” The festival should provide the Arts Academy with a needed boost toward fulfilling its mission. “We are particularly thrilled because our motto is ‘arts for all,’” said the Rev. Jim Adams, pastor of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Genesee Street. “This will allow us to reach students who normally would not be able to afford it.” The three-day festival will feature performances by Masteller playing alongside some of the premier jazz musicians in central New York, including pianist Dave Solazzo, of Syracuse, and bassist Bill Kahl, of Auburn. Work by the Academy’s visual arts students will also be on display at Houghton House throughout the weekend. It kicks off Friday, Aug. 1, with a light concert and meet-and-greet with the musicians and wraps up Sunday morning Aug. 3 with a jazz brunch. The idea first came up in conversations with Erica Cooney-Conner, HWS’s director of conferences and events, who saw an opportunity to reach out to the community as part of the college’s Geneva Partnership. What sealed the deal was the chance to support the Arts Academy, she said, noting the festival will be the first of its kind at HWS, and it’s something that organizers want to build on. “We hope that this will become an annual event and that it will grow,” Cooney-Conner said. Masteller, a retired human resources executive, has always had jazz in his blood, he said, having learned the ropes from his father, Harold Masteller. He started playing in his dad’s band at the tender age of 11. After he graduated from Hobart College in 1960, Masteller embarked on a long career and said he eventually became senior vice president of the development company that was pivotal in transforming Hilton Head into the tourist spot it is today. Sensing the opportunity to realize a lifelong dream, Masteller stayed in South Carolina and opened the Jazz Corner with partner Charles Swift in 1999. The club has consistently earned visitors’ high marks and hosted some of the world’s top musicians. Masteller has also branched out into recording, starting the Sweet Jazz Recording label and releasing several “Live at the Jazz Corner” CDs. Over the years, he’s developed a passion for preserving jazz and passing it along to the next generation of musicians, so he organizes an annual jazz festival in his hometown of Waverly, to support music education there. “This is a very interesting time for jazz,” he said. “Jazz education is flourishing, particularly at the college level, but at the same time, the business end is hurting.” At the Jazz Corner, Masteller opens his stage for any young musician who wants to hone his or her skills. That is also why he supports jazz festivals, to give the new generation an opportunity to show off their skills. “The only way you can get better is to get out there in front of people and perform,” he said. Tickets for the jazz festival will be $15 for Friday, $25 for Saturday and $35 for both days. Sunday brunch tickets are $25 and reservations must be made. Tickets are available at Irene’s, Pedulla’s Liquor Store and at the HWS Conference and Events Office at Delancey Hall. For more information, call the colleges at 781-3103.