For close to 40 years, impresario Jack Kleinsinger has presented “Highlights in Jazz,” acclaimed as the longest-running concert series in the history of New York. On Thursday the multi-instrumental saxophonist Sonny Fortune will be honored at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, playing his own songs with longtime musical friends.
Kleinsinger, a former assistant attorney general of New York State, grew up listening to jazz. Several family members, including his father — a professor of pharmacy at St. John’s — were heavily into the music. So all during the time he worked as an NYC school teacher, going to St. John’s Law School at night, and then as a lawyer and public servant with the Lindsay administration, he heard jazz live and got close to several of the musicians.
“The late Zoot Sims, and Bucky Pizzarelli, among others, said, ‘You’re comfortable with musicians, you love the music. Why don’t you take over a club, or rent a hall and get it out of your system?’ We started the series in 1973. We’ve done 310 concerts since.”
Of the themed concerts he curates, tributes are his favorite.
“I got tired of seeing these memorial concerts. Why not salute them while they’re living and playing?” Kleinsinger asks. “My criterion is someone who’s a great player, really respected in the jazz community, and who has paid his dues to our series by being a part of it.