Sixth Rockaway Beach Jazz Festival Back at the Boardwalk!


Folks, if you’re all about that jazz—Rockaway is calling you home for the Sixth Annual Jazz Music Festival hosted by local Tim Otto next Saturday, July 27, featuring three NYC jazz bands at Low Tide Bar at the Beach 97th Street concession. This lineup offers a range for jazz lovers, who like in a wedding—want something new, unexpected and of course, something straight-up traditional. Otto, a more than 30-year veteran saxophone player, describes himself as just a jazz aficionado, passionate about bringing his love of the music genre to the beach.

According to Otto, professionally trained at the prestigious Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Australia, when he first moved to Rockaway 10 years ago, it was a wilderness when it came to the live jazz music scene. “I’ve been playing professionally for over 35 years, and of course jazz is my love. I’ve lived in NYC for over 30 years, and when I moved to Rockaway 10 years ago, I wanted to share my passion not just for the music, but the musicians here in Rockaway, the community I made my home with my family, but there weren’t many venues to play, especially for jazz,” Otto said.

However, Otto said that as the years progressed, he was able with the support from the community of jazz lovers, to turn that around.

“The music scene here has changed so much in the last few years, especially up to five years ago. Ten years ago, there weren’t many venues to play, and there wasn’t much happening as far as jazz. I started doing some jazz nights at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club when they first opened, and they actually hosted the inaugural jazz festival, which was great,” Otto said.

Then the next year, Otto was able to move the festival to the boardwalk at Low Tide Bar, which has been hosting it ever since.

This year’s lineup is the variety that Otto likes to showcase. According to Otto, the three bands bring a diverse but complementary approach to jazz and contemporary music—ranging from a quartet led by famed local baritone sax player Claire Daly to the jazz grooves of Spin Cycle to the free explorations of Lloyd Haber & Andrew Lamb.

Baritone saxophonist and international bandleader Claire Daly is an award-winning jazz artist. Spin Cycle (Tom Christensen, tenor sax, Scott Neumann, drums, Pete McCann, guitar and Phil Palombi, bass) have played with each other for many years. Their new project Spin Cycle highlights their flexibility and reach—and their capacity for surprise. On any given song, you might encounter the modal influence of John Coltrane, the second-line funk of New Orleans, and/or the edgy experimentation of free jazz. Lloyd Haber and Andrew Lamb have performed in various settings including the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Jazz Mandolin Project, the Gil Evans Project, Madeleine Peyroux’s touring group, Broadway pit bands and Cheap Trick. This band is known for digging deep, swinging hard, and putting a shine on a ballad.

When asked how he selects the lineup, Otto said, “Every year’s lineup includes musicians I reach out to, who I have a professional relationship with, and musicians who just want to experience playing in Rockaway on the oceanfront.

“For example, I know Lloyd Haber, the drummer, because he’s done gigs out here before, and he’s originally from Long Beach. As far as booking the musicians for the festival, I try to include someone who is local, someone who is a woman, and just something that will draw people.

“For example, Claire is pretty much well-known in the jazz scene. I reached out to her last year, but she wasn’t available, and I reached out to her again this year, and she was so excited to perform in Rockaway. As for Spin Cycle, I know the drummer, Scott Neumann, and he reached out to me. I actually have musicians reaching out to me who want to play at the festival. Everyone wants to play in Rockaway! So for the festival’s lineup, it’s a balance of me picking people, including those submitting material to me. I usually try to mix it up with straight jazz, something a bit more funky and something more experimental to get a varied line-up,” Otto said.

So jazz lovers, come out to the Sixth Annual Rockaway Beach Jazz Music Festival at the Beach 97th Concession on Saturday, July 27, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. This event is free and all about that jazz! For more info, check out Rockaway Beach Jazz Festival on Facebook.