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September 5, 2009

NIAGARA FALLS: Jazz fest is encore for former Ontario House

NIAGARA FALLS — The Ontario House Jazz Reunion has come a long way since a stormy November night four years ago.

Back then, former patrons of the longtime club just wanted to reunite in one room, share memories and maybe even jam a little for old time’s sake.

“It was such a wonderful evening and it started it all,” said Bobby Minicucci, owner of the former Ontario House. “The reunion is going to become quite an institution I hope.”

Minicucci said organizers have worked hard to make this weekend’s fourth annual reunion the best ever, and he admits to being more than a little anxious to see what type of crowd it draws.

“It’s like waiting for a wedding to start for one of your children,” he said. “Half a century of my life was dedicated to that club.”

Fortunately, Minicucci doesn’t have to wait much longer. The free outdoor music event will take place from noon to 8:30 p.m. today at the corner of Main Street and Ontario Avenue — the former location of the “O-H.” The lineup features local and regional musicians who helped to make the venue a regular stop on the jazz circuit from the late 1940s until it was demolished in 1995.

Guitarist Greg Millar will open the show and be followed by the Ron Corsaro Septet at 1:45 p.m. Corsaro earned his music degree from the state University College at Fredonia and studied at North Texas State and University at Buffalo. He has released six CDs during his career — which began at the O-H — and is the music director for the Lewiston Jazz Festival.

During his set, Corsaro will present veteran organist Bobby Jones with an award for his contributions to the Niagara Falls jazz scene.

The Chu Nero Quartet takes the stage at 3:30 p.m. Nero plays the piano, tenor sax and sings. Pappy Martin and Love Supreme — a mainstay of the contemporary Western New York blues and jazz scene — will play at 5:15 p.m. Bassist James “Pappy” Martin is the founder and director of the Love Supreme School of Music in Buffalo.

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