Cynthia Sayer in Metuchen

April 30, 2024

The New York Times once described Cynthia Sayer as “a rarity; a woman who plays banjo with drive and virtuosity.” NEA Jazz Master pianist Dick Hyman said of her: “She takes us into places where you’d never expect the banjo to be admitted and makes herself completely at home.”

On Thursday, May 9, Sayer (photo above) will be bringing her Joyride Quartet to Metuchen, NJ, for a dinner concert in The Parlor at Hailey’s Harp & Pub. The program is entitled “Speakeasy Jazz” and will feature hot jazz and swing from the days of Prohibition and the ‘banjo-crazed’ Roaring ’20s. It has been organized by Metuchen Jazz and the Friends of Metuchen Arts.

Sayer, a Scotch Plains, NJ, native, is a member of the American Banjo Hall of Fame and, in addition to Hyman, has played with such giants as guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and Les Paul and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, among many others. She was also a founding member of Woody Allen’s New Orleans Jazz Band.

In Metuchen, Sayer will be joined by clarinetist Ricky Alexander, bassist Andrew Hall, and drummer Larry Eagle. Alexander’s new Turtle Bay album, Just Found Joy, is reviewed in the May 2024 issue of Jersey Jazz Magazine. Reviewer Joe Lang, pointing out that Alexander “digs into songs mostly from the 1920s and 1930s,” added that the recording includes “a robust program of standards such as ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’ and vintage jazz tunes such as ‘King Porter Stomp’.”

In a review of the western swing band Brainclouds’ 2017 concert in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York Music Daily said Hall’s “punchy bass looms large in their hi-de-ho version of (Sam H. Stept’s) ‘Comes Love’.” Eagle has played with a wide range of musical artists including Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Ricky Skaggs, and Lizz Wright.

Hailey’s Harp & Pub is located at 15 Station Place in Metuchen. The concert begins at 7 p.m.; advance tickets are $25, and there is a $20 food/drink minimum. For more information and to order tickets, email for call (732) 762 5224.


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