With a fine new album just added to his impressive resume, saxophonist/composer Albert Rivera will be in an especially festive mood as he presents his annual pre-Thanksgiving show Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. at West Hartford's Szechuan Tokyo Restaurant.
The 27-year-old Bronx native has built up a loyal local fan base with his appearances at Szechuan and Black-eyed Sally's in downtown Hartford. His Connecticut connection also is accented by his role as a faculty member at the Litchfield Jazz Festival's Jazz Camp, where at 15 he studied as a scholarship student.
Once again, the New York-based musician will perform with Hartford's Curtis brothers, pianist Zaccai Curtis and bassist Luques Curtis.
Rounding out Rivera's quartet is Ben Bilello, a cum laude graduate of The Hartt School and a much in-demand freelance drummer in New England.
Starting out as a classical musician at age 10, Rivera first got hooked on jazz while studying at New York's selective LaGuardia High School for Music and Arts program. "I was speechless the first time I heard Charlie Parker and John Coltrane," Rivera has said.
Later, he was inspired by Joshua Redman's album, "Elastic," realizing, he says, that "it was only a matter of time before I adapted it to my own voice."
"In my music, when composing new sounds," Rivera adds, "I use the modal aspect of John Coltrane's works as a creative launching pad, mixing in a variety of grooves and rhythms."
Rivera's warm, eclectic debut album, "Re-Introduction" (Turnaround Records) was well-received.
His new encore disc, "Inner Peace," again on Turnaround, sweeps gracefully from the celebratory, groove-centered funk of "It Always Comes Back to This" to the introspective "Remembrance," the New Yorker's memorial to Sept. 11, 2001.
On "Inner Peace," the Curtis Brothers help keep Rivera's music flowing fluently, fitting right in among the new album's variety of shifting moods.
Remarking on the collaborations between Rivera and the Curtis Brothers, one critic has declared that "the three young artists … are part of the next wave in this jazz ritual."
Besides the Curtis brothers, Rivera's lineup for "Inner Peace" features the noted guitarist Mark Whitfield, Beck Burger on Hammond B3 organ, Jean Caze and Nick Roseboro on trumpet and John Iannuzzi and Nathan Jolley on drums.
Rivera will have a bountiful supply of tasty, nutritious servings for his Thanksgiving Eve jazz fest at Szechuan. For more information on Rivera and "Inner Peace" see http://www.albertriverajazz.com.
Szechuan Tokyo is at 1245 New Britain Ave., West Hartford. Reservations are recommended. Information: 860-561-0180 and asianfusion.net.