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Music Department to Present 36th Annual Jazz Festival Featuring Robert Aaron

The SUNY Plattsburgh Department of Music will present the 36th annual Jazz Festival directed by Professor Rick Davies and featuring special guest artist Robert Aaron, a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and producer.

The Festival Jazz Concert will take place May 3 when Aaron performs with the SUNY Plattsburgh Jazz Band and the Mambo Combo, directed by Davies. The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. in E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium, Hawkins Hall. Tickets, which can be purchased in advance at the Angell College Center or at the door, are  $8 for general admission; $5 for seniors, students and SUNY Plattsburgh faculty and staff; and $2 for SUNY Plattsburgh students.

“A Talk with Robert Aaron” will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. that day. At this free, pre-concert talk, Aaron will discuss his career as a New York City freelance musician, composer, arranger and producer.

The Jazz Festival will conclude May 4 with a dance party at the Naked Turtle in Plattsburgh. Aaron will play with Davies and the Mambo Combo from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.  Admission is free.

A prolific musician on the New York City pop, Latin and Caribbean music scenes, Aaron has performed with and been a composer, arranger and producer for such artists as the B52s, Blondie, David Bowie, Paul Simon, Mya, Michael Jackson and Chic. In addition, he has worked on scores of recordings for labels such as Mini Records.

Forced to fend for himself from the age of 14, Aaron soon left his hometown of Montreal and arrived in New York in 1976 where he made a living busking on the streets of Brooklyn. He played numerous instruments including the saxophone, flute, piano, bass and guitar.  

By the 1980s, he was recording with rock bands such as the B52s and Blondie, as well as with funk and disco bands like Chic and for the producer Patrick Adams.

He also took part in the rise of hip-hop, working with Afrika Bambaataa and Heavy D as well as Stetsasonic (on the classic track “In Full Gear” and on a historic tour of Africa), Wu-Tang Clan and RZA.

Aaron was responsible for one of the first house music hits, “Sax in the Ozone,” for the Eight Ball label in 1992. In addition, he has performed with Masters at Work and various other electronic artists like Daniel Wang and Fisherspooner. For much of the past decade he was musical director for Wyclef Jean.

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