Capital District Jazz, Ltd. (“CDJ”) was formed by musicians and fans who love jazz music, are inspired by its rich history, impressed and motivated by its technical complexity, and moved by its emotional depth.  Although uniquely American in origin, jazz reaches, and draws from, millions of performers and listeners around the globe.  The members of CDJ care deeply about this art form and want to share their excitement with current and potential performers and enthusiasts throughout the “Capital District” of New York State  and beyond.  CDJ’s mission is:

• to build and serve a wider audience for jazz through education
• to create performance opportunities for jazz musicians in the region
• to develop venues for these pursuits

Past and Present Activities. CDJ is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, formed in January 2008. In 2013 the organization ran a successful year of its Youth Brass Band Mentorship Program. Present activities include fundraising and planning concert events.

Future Activities.   To accomplish its mission, CDJ plans to promote performances by both nationally renowned and local jazz musicians, to expand the audience for jazz and to sponsor and participate in events coordinated with, and partly to benefit, other not-for-profit organizations.  CDJ seeks to be an integral participant and sponsor of the arts in all areas of the Capital District, especially those areas that are traditionally under-served. CDJ, whose members include many jazz educators, also intends to conduct educational workshops for aspiring jazz musicians of all ages, at various locations throughout the Capital District.  CDJ also hopes to develop one or more venues to serve as places where students and professionals can perform, educate and appreciate jazz.


Erika Aberg (Treasurer) is a ceramic artist whose works in clay focus on sculptural forms.  She brings her visual arts aesthetic to her life-long involvement with jazz and event production.  In addition to graphic design, creating publicity materials, writing press releases and operational oversight of concert events, Erika’s background includes recording engineer and was co-founder of the jazz label, Invisible Music Records.  In addition to serving as Treasurer of Capital District Jazz, she is a board member of A Place for Jazz and previously served on the boards of the Maine Jazz Alliance and the Maine Jazz Festival.

Dr. Arthur Falbush
is currently a lecturer at the State University of New York, Oneonta where he leads the school's jazz ensemble, is founder and director of the Oneonta Jazz Festival and teaches music theory and piano. He is the Co- Director of the Proctor's Summer Jazz Institute, one of New York State's largest summer jazz programs and has presented master classes in the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Italy and New Zealand. Previous teaching positions include Ferris State University and Christchurch Polytechnic (New Zealand). He has been a freelance trumpet player in New York City for many years and has performed with Tom Harrell, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Mercer Ellington and Billy Taylor.

Mark Kleinhut
(Vice President) has managed dual careers of guitarist and banker for the past 35 years. He has been a Senior Vice President with Key Bank for the last 27 years where he is East Regional Manager of the firm’s Specialized Finance group. In the music world, he has released 6 CDs of his compositions, including collaborations with renowned saxophonist Bobby Watson and trumpeter Tiger Okoshi. Since relocating to the Capital District in 2011, Mark has integrated into the community, playing with many players in the region as a sideman and leading his own quartet featuring his compositions. Mark uses his financial and business acumen to help support the jazz community; is a director of A Place for Jazz and formerly served the Maine Jazz Alliance as President and Director, was Director of Maine Jazz Camp, Maine Jazz Festival and the University of Southern Maine advisory board.

Trumpeter Steve Lambert currently plays with the Empire Jazz Orchestra, the Big Soul Ensemble, the Tim Olsen Band and City Rhythm as well leading small group jazz projects under his own name. He has performed on stage with Curtis Fuller, Claudio Roditi, Ray Vega, Fathead Newman, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, Franki Valli, Kristen Chenoweth as well as the Temptations and Four Tops. He holds a BSME from Columbia University.

Brian Patneaude
 (Webmaster) is a professional musician and educator living in New York's Capital District. In addition to leading his own quartet (with five critically acclaimed releases to their credit) the saxophonist maintains an active performance schedule with a number of area ensembles including The Empire Jazz Orchestra, Michael Benedict & Bopitude and Keith Pray's Big Soul Ensemble. He is an adjunct saxophone instructor at The College of Saint Rose and Schenectady County Community College where he also directs the communiy college's Jazz Combo.

Keith Pray (Founder) is a professional composer, performer, arranger and teacher who has performed throughout the United States and in Europe with world-renowned performers including Paul Anka, Benny Golson, The Temptations, Ray Vega, Mark Vinci and Jerry Weldon. He currently leads several ensembles and teaches at, among other places, the Schenectady City School District.

Bill Schilling
(President) is a retiree from a career as a reference librarian that included long stints at both Albany Public Library and the New York State Library.  Before that he worked in the retail and wholesale record business.  A lifelong jazz fan, he was active in the 1970’s promoting concerts, running a not-for-profit record store and publishing a monthly newsletter for the now defunct Capital District Jazz Society.

Aaron Zhang
(secretary), a native of Schenectady, is a teacher and musician throughout the Capital District. They are primarily a saxophonist and can be seen performing with the Capital District Wind Ensemble as well as other local groups. Aaron has years of experience teaching with All Ears Jazz, is currently teaching in the Schenectady City School District, and is an assistant conductor of the Memorial Concert Band off Colonie. 


It is with heavy hearts that we note the death of our friend and colleague, Scott Bassinson. Scott was one of the founders of Capital District Jazz. He was a skilled attorney who volunteered many hours of his time to help develop CDJ from an idea to a functioning non-profit organization. He filed our Articles of Incorporation, was instrumental in writing our by-laws and in obtaining our 501(c)(3) status, and served for many years as an officer on our board of directors, before retiring from the board in 2016. But Scott also loved music and he was an extremely talented musician. Scott played the piano with impeccable taste and his listening skills were equal to his impressive chops. He had the rare ability of placing just the right chord or melodic fill to suit each moment on the bandstand. Those of us that had the opportunity to hear him perform at Jazz at the Spring (January, 2019) could see and hear what a gifted and giving musician he was. We are all deeply saddened to see a bright light in our jazz community extinguished too soon. We at CDJ extend our heartfelt condolences to Scott’s family, and we are honored that he was an integral part of our organization and our lives.

© 2020 Capital District Jazz Ltd.