By Litchfield Performing Arts, a not-for-profit educational charity.

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Albert Rivera “Back At It Band” w/ Paul Bollenback

“Since I can remember, Paul Bollenback has been a part of the development of my music career. Paul was one of my first instructors at LJC. He was always quick to share advice on how to progress both as a musician and in the music business. He once said to me “keep recording and releasing your music no matter how it happens at the highest quality you can, because you just never know who’s listening.” He was absolutely right. These are words I live by.”
– Albert Rivera, on working with Paul Bollenback


Albert Rivera, saxophone

Albert Rivera’s musical journey began at Laguardia High School in New York City and continued at Litchfield Jazz Camp where he was a scholarship student throughout his teens. After taking his degree at New School on full talent scholarship, he began a career in music that sees him today, a seasoned performer, educator and producer at 33. Albert has garnered awards and has a successful career both as a sideman and a leader. He won the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award in 2009 and the 2012 Chamber Music America Residency Grant. Downbeat Magazine has called him “a modern Jazz Messenger.”

Rivera, equally at home now on the alto and tenor saxophones, has a distinct style he says was heavily influenced by classic jazz greats like John Coltrane and more contemporary sounds, like those of Joshua Redman.  “When I first heard Elastic by Redman, I knew it was only a matter of time before I adapted it to my own voice.”

As a performer, he regularly appears at New York venues like Smalls Jazz Club, Sweet Rhythm, Zinc Bar, Cleopatra’s Needle, Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the River Room of Harlem. He appears often in Connecticut venues in Hartford and New Haven and in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington DC. In April, he appears at the Berks Jazz Festival in Redding, PA. His collaborators include Don Braden, Jimmy Greene, Claudio Roditi, Rachel Z, and the great drummer Charli Persip. At Jazz Camp he appears with his own group and faculty stars like Avery Sharpe, Paul Bollenback and Dave Stryker.

Rivera’s musical journey has led him to a rewarding career as an educator. At Litchfield he plays a pivotal role as Director of Operations at Litchfield Jazz Camp and as a trusted advisor to Litchfield Jazz Festival’s Artistic Director.  Together they choose the star-studded camp faculty and collaborate on festival artistic choices. He is long-time artist/composer/band director in residence for a large middle school project each year, Project Poetry Live, run by Litchfield Performing Arts and serving 800 to 1000 students annually. He created a program for the Miami Arts Charter School to help children learn about jazz and clinics for the Berks Jazz Festival in Pennsylvania and two residencies for music students in Bermuda.


Albert Rivera – photo James Korn

Albert records with Truth Revolution Records.  His latest release, Back At It, will be reprised for his festival appearance and feature Zaccai Curtis, piano, Zwe Bell le Pere, bass, Ian Carroll, drums, Beck Burger, organ/ keyboards, Andrew Lipow, guitar, Andrew Hadro, baritone sax, Nick Roseboro, trumpet, and Paul Bollenback on guitar. The recording project was financed through crowd funding that featured wide distribution of free records in a well-conceived campaign to get the music in the hands of many listeners. DownBeat reported on his successful, inventive approach in its March 2016 issue in Enterprising Energy by Ken Micallef.

Albert Rivera endorses  RS Berkeley saxophones and Vandoren Optimum Ligatures‚ Mouthpieces‚ and Reeds. This is his 4th appearance at Litchfield Jazz festival and his second as a leader.

Paul Bollenback, guitar

Paul Bollenback’s expressive style and eclectic approach comes from years of listening, studying and playing music of the masters. Paul attended the University of Miami and studied privately for eight years with Asher Zlotnik in Baltimore. In 1997, he was named Musician of the Year at the Washington Area Music Awards and became Adjunct Professor of Music at American University in Washington, DC.  He received a 2011 Grammy nomination for co-production on Joey DeFrancesco’s Never Can Say Goodbye (HighNote). He tours with DeFrancesco, Mike LeDonne, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Gary Bartz, Shunzo Ohno, and his own trio. His engagements include international jazz clubs and festivals and TV appearances on the The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, Joan Rivers, The Today Show, and Entertainment Tonight. His latest recording Portraits in Space and Time (Mayimba Jazz Music, 2014), featuring all original music in a trio setting, has been critically acclaimed.

Paul leads a dual life as an educator, teaching at Columbia University, Peabody Conservatory, Queens College, Prince Claus Conservatory and at the Skidmore, Prague and Bobby Durham summer jazz workshops. He has been a resident artist at Litchfield Jazz Camp since 1999.


Paul Bollenback – photo Steve Sussman

Albert and Paul appear at LJF 2016 with members of the band featured on Back At It (Truth Revolution Records): Beck Burger on Nord, Andrew Hadro, bari, Nick Roseboro, trumpet, Zwe Bell le Pere, bass, Ian Carroll, drums, and Zaccai Curtis, piano.  Albert, who began his journey with Litchfield at age 15 as a camper, and this entire cast of characters are instructors at LJC. Most like him, are former campers.  We are proud to present them, one and all.

Artist Website