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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Shea Lynch at 4:47PM

Blog posting written by Shea Lynch, Documentary Studies ’13, FLEFF Intern, Glens Falls, New York

The Bernie Upson Quartet will be playing FLEFF After Party, Friday, April 5 at 8:30 p.m. at the Chanticleer in the Commons.

My first time hearing The Bernie Upson Quartet was on the syndicated radio station Crossing Borders LIVE here in Ithaca. I was never really a fan of jazz until coming to Ithaca for college, now realizing there is a huge jazz following. The Bernie Upson Quartet is rhythmic jazz that is almost poetic, shifting emotions throughout, with sax, drums, bass and piano.

The Bernie Upson Quartet is an Ithaca staple, consisting of: Bernie Upson on bass, Dino Losito on piano, Chuck Leo on sax, and Al Harland on drums. 

Excerpt from FLEFF Intern Voices  2012 Interview:

Q: What is your background?

Bernie Upson: I grew up in Harlem surrounded by music. I worked at the Apollo for a few years. I played with Diana Ross & the Supremes when they first came in from Detroit. I played bass for the shows at the Apollo, including Patty Labelle.

Deb Clover: He’s been doing this since he was 18. Ithaca’s lucky he decided to settle here. He lived around the corner from Count Basie when he was a kid. Growing up in Harlem he was around a lot of great musicians. 

When he was an older teenager, he moved to Queens where he was also surrounded by a lot of jazz musicians. If you wanted to be a jazz musician it was the right time and the right place. When he was playing in the Catskills at the Concord, he was playing in a lounge and Frank Sinatra was performing on the other stage. Then Frank came and sat down with them.

He made friends with Joe Henderson in service and they formed an army jazz band. They traveled all over the South where they were stationed. It was still so segregated. They would play in a club where they couldn’t walk in the front door.

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