The Kennedy Dream at The Jazz Loft

Over the past year, I've been working on a really exciting project with Tom Manuel at the Jazz Loft and the concerts are happening this weekend.  We will be performing Oliver Nelson's tribute suite to John F Kennedy, The Kennedy Dream, with a 35-piece jazz orchestra.  The 2nd half of the concert features 9 new original compositions by Tom Manuel, Dan Pugatch, Ray Anderson and others, and I have arranged 6 of those new compositions for the 35-piece orchestra, including a new work by Oliver Nelson, Jr.

Concerts are Saturday, March 26th at 7pm at the Jazz Loft, and Sunday, March 27th at 7pm at the Staller Center at Stony Brook University.

More info and tickets are available through The Jazz Loft website:

Here's the original recording of The Kennedy Dream-- check it out and then come hear it live!


The Jazz Loft & The Staller Center Present 

The Kennedy Dream Project 2022 

Performance of musical tribute to ideals of late president will include new compositions by Stony Brook University Jazz Department faculty 

Stony Brook, NY-Fifty-Five years ago American composer/arranger Oliver Nelson recorded The Kennedy Dream: A Musical Tribute to John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Nelson drew his inspiration and focus for the music from the universality of JFK’s legacy and the President’s belief that our freedom, comparative wealth, scientific advancement, and problems are all products of the creativeness of the individual. 

Nelson’s 1967 work will be both reproduced and expanded upon as The Kennedy Dream Project 2022, a special series of concert performances, funded in part by a $5,000 New York State Council on the Arts Creative Communities grant, with additional funding from the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn. 

The project is also being funded by generous donations from Michael Ardolino, founder and owner of Ardolino Realty, and Dan Oliveri. 

"I am thrilled to once again partner with The Jazz Loft for this creative and timely project,” Ardolino said.  “Music can help to heal and inspire people, and I believe the Kennedy Dream Project is needed in these challenging times." 

The Kennedy Dream Project 2022 will be performed by the Stony Brook University Jazz Department and Indiana University’s Jazz Department faculty including Oliver Nelson, Jr, as well as Ray Anderson and Thomas Manuel, of the University’s Jazz Department. Manuel is also the founder of the Jazz Loft. The second half of this project presents new compositions as produced by artists Manuel, Anderson, Oliver Nelson Jr., Grammy-nominated Dan Pugach, Steven Salerno and Jeff Lederer. These musical statements speak to the struggles of the current time, be it the COVID pandemic, equality, equity, advocacy for the arts and artists, as well as other themes. 

“This project is an attempt of all the artists involved to emphasize and bring to the world’s attention the really important themes, subjects and ideals which Kennedy championed; challenges which confronted mankind in the 1960s, and challenges which, some, sadly still confront us today,” said Manuel. “The motivation and purpose of the addition of these new compositions is to again emphasize that the conversation in Jazz, the conversation begun by Oliver Nelson in 1967 is far from finished.” 

“The Staller Center is honored and delighted to be collaborating with Tom Manuel and the Jazz Loft in hosting this exciting project in our hall,” said Alan Inkles, Director of the Staller Center for the Arts and the Stony Brook Film Festival. “The Jazz Loft continues to be an ever-growing important musical addition to our community and region; exploring all areas of jazz and more. This project is a perfect addition to a season at Staller that has embraced the times and issues we are facing in the world today. Art needs to be entertaining, sometimes challenging and always relevant. The Dream Project embraces all of these and is a perfect continuation of the exciting work being done at The Jazz Loft.” 

“I am both honored and excited to be a part of the Kennedy Dream Project,” said Oliver Nelson, Jr. “My dad saw in President Kennedy a man with a vision of what America could be. Kennedy’s tragic death had a profound impact on him personally and musically. I was at the original recording session and remember the creative energy that was exhibited by all the musicians. The Kennedy Dream Project helps to keep the legacy alive of both President John F. Kennedy, and the prolific composer, arranger, and saxophonist Oliver Nelson.” 

A Sunday, March 27, 2022 performance is scheduled for the Staller Center for the Performing Arts on campus at Stony Brook University. A performance at the Jazz Loft in Stony Brook Village will be on Saturday March 26, at 7 P.M. 

Mr. Nelson will be working with the Stony Brook University Jazz Department students in an open workshop on Friday, March 25 on the University campus, as well as presenting a music business workshop with Loft School of Jazz students at The Jazz Loft on Saturday, March 26.

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