Jazz at the Pointe


Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble performs at Shaker Pointe

A Musical Midsummer Evening

The stage was set for a perfect evening on August 24th.  The weather was a picture perfect late summer evening, complete with blue skies and warm temperatures.  Delicious food had been prepped, the tables decorated and the drinks were ready to be poured.  Once the band arrived everything was in place for a night to remember!  Just last Wednesday, Shaker Pointe hosted ‘Jazz at the Pointe’, welcoming Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble to our pop-up outdoor stage.  The night was put on for our residents to enjoy, but it was also an opportunity for those interested in Shaker Pointe to learn more about the community in a different light.  What better way to showcase the vibrant range in activities, than to host a fabulous outdoor evening headlined by the Keith Pray Band.  Many area Jazz enthusiasts might recognize the name and that’s because on the first Tuesday of the month, you can find Keith Pray and the Big Soul Ensemble on the stage at the Van Dyck in Schenectady.  The bands leader, Keith Pray, is cited as, “A versatile saxophonist, who explores the boundaries of mainstream jazz, the blues, avant-garde and gritty funk as a performer, bandleader, composer and educator.”   Keith Pray’s biography is just as impressive as his introduction.  He has released five albums under his name, taught saxophone at SUNY Oneonta, lectured on jazz history, and done arranging at Schenectady County Community College.  Currently he directs the high school bands in the Schenectady City School District.  The Big Soul Ensemble with whom Keith plays is a 17 piece big band performing primarily original compositions.  The band consists of Capital Region locals, many of whom are teachers themselves.  The band played two sets under the tent at Shaker Pointe without any enhancements, all to a crowd of 300.  By the end of the night the group had everyone on their feet, dancing on the dance floor!


Residents Eleanor and Jean enjoy food and drinks while listening to the sounds of Jazz

A Spectacular Performance of Sounds & Taste

Aside from the band, the other star of the show was certainly the food!  Our kitchen rolled out a fabulous tasting of gourmet hors d’oeuvres and drinks to pair perfectly with the evening.  Good food tends to bring people together.  While guests waited in line it was a great opportunity to see and hear what life at Shaker Pointe is really like.  There is no shortage of hospitality among our residents and there was a great intermingling among themselves and guests over food. On our patio off the Shaker Pointe Great Room, our chefs were hard at work grilling up shrimp and chicken skewers.  In a space normally reserved for those enjoying a cup of coffee with neighbors or a snack under a patio umbrella, it was wonderful to watch the area come to life during our event.  On the reverse side of the building there was a turkey and ham carving station paired with fresh baked rolls and a dish of paella.  Inside the grandeur of our Great Room, tables were set-up with displays of tapas, exhibiting arrangements of fresh grilled vegetables and homemade hummus.  The final pièce de résistance was at the dessert tables, filled with gourmet chocolate confections and hand-filled mouse cups in raspberry and mocha flavors.  Needless to say it’s obvious which table ran out first!  Although last Wednesday was just a sampling of the flavors at Shaker Pointe the evening encompassed a lot of staple ingredients found in our dining venues at Shaker Pointe.  Local vegetables are offered as a side at dinner in the Resident Dining Room.  In our Bistro you can find fresh carved turkey on your sandwich and sustainable seafood is always on the menu.  Here at Shaker Pointe our menus combine a blend of the classics we all enjoy, paired with new flavors to entice the senses.


Residents & guests take to the dance floor


It Takes a Team at Shaker Pointe

Over the course of the evening Shaker Pointe hosted an estimated 300 residents and guests.  Some guests came as jazz admirers others visited with friends and neighbors while exploring the Shaker Pointe community.  While a celebration of this scale happens only a few times a year, all who visited were able to see many different aspects of Shaker Pointe, or tour for the first time.  In planning an event of this scale all the members of our staff had to come together to contribute.  Our dedicated maintenance team worked around the clock the evening prior setting up all the outdoor seating and tables while overseeing construction of the tent.  On a normal day you would observe our maintenance staff in a similar fashion, overseeing the day-to-day tasks of outdoor maintenance in addition to providing all other forms of interior maintenance.  Transportation played a large role in making the event successful, as we provided a shuttle to cars parked in an over-flow lot outside our campus.  Here at Shaker Pointe we provide daily transportation to planned events, scheduled outings, and doctors’ appointments.  Our Activities Department was on full display as evidenced in their seamless planning of the event and contributions to decor.  Members of Executive Team, Sister Kay Ryan and Sister Lauren VanDermark, made sure to welcome all who visited.  Of course the Marketing Department oversaw tours of the community while taking the time to answer questions and welcome those who were first time visitors.  Seeing everyone gathered together under the tent, marked a truly extraordinary evening.  Looking at every aspect of our community weaving together to celebrate and event makes all our efforts worth it.  We hope that ‘Jazz at the Pointe’ becomes a regular tradition for our community, and hope you catch the next one!

Click here to view the entire gallery from our Jazz at the Pointe celebration 

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