Waller rent party, Terry at Zinc, open mic, Rome Neal
Ron Scott | 8/1/2012, 4:57 p.m.
Back in the day, a good rent party could actually pay your rent, but then it was only about $10 per month. Come on in, friend, neighbor or downtown guest just looking to hang in Harlem. As Chester Himes' racy novel "Pink Toes" indicated, everybody came to the Harlem rent parties, from politicians to hustlers--and race wasn't a problem.
Musicians scurried from their last set on Saturday night for the anticipated good time, jamming all night and dancing with a lady and a chicken wing in hand to the music of Fats Waller or some other great, fun-loving musician on the scene. Eat all the pigs' feet, fried chicken, corn bread and collard greens you want and just party as Harlem became heaven.
For one day, on July 28 at 5 p.m. at the Harlem Stage Summer Concert in Annunciation Park (West 135th Street between Convent and Amsterdam avenues), the Fats Waller Dance Party returns with pianist Jason Moran and Meshell Ndegeocello on bass and vocals with a five-piece band and a live dance installation by choreographer Maija Garcia/Organic Magnetics. Opening acts will include Amma Whatt and I Love Vinyl DJs.
After four sold-out shows in 2011 at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse, Moran and Ndegeocello are teaming up for a second year to present the Fats Waller Dance Party. Commissioned by Harlem Stage, Moran and Ndegeocello set Waller's music to 21st-century jamming grooves.
"I wanted Fats Waller to be fun for the musicians and audience, how we play it and how Meshell sings it. Before the first Waller Dance Party, I had never played for an audience that actually came out to dance," stated Moran. "If the music moves you, you should be able to move. I want to see the different ways I can interact with the audience and music, especially in this setting, where people want to dance."
The Fats Waller Dance Party has become so successful that the show is going on the road, and Moran will record a version of it for Blue Note Records later this summer.
Waller, a genius pianist and composer out of the stride tradition of the early 1900s, wrote such noted tunes as "Honeysuckle Rose," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Jitterbug Waltz" and "Squeeze Me." Waller was known to get the joint jumping at Small's Paradise during after-hour jams and rent parties. He began recording for Victor Records in 1923. He is credited with being the first musician to play jazz on an organ.
Yosvany Terry hits Greenwich Village at the Zinc Bar (82 W. 3rd St.) on July 26. Since arriving in New York in 1999, the native Cuban has extended the palate of Afro-Cuban jazz, introducing fresh alto saxophone riffs that climb the scales of jazz to Latin rhythms.
His two-day Zinc engagement will include pianist Osmany Paredes, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, his brother bassist Yunior Terry and drummer Obed Calvaire. They will perform at 7 and 8:30 p.m.
Terry will perform tunes from his latest release, "Today's Opinions," a collection of eight of his original compositions. The Criss Cross label CD opens with "Summer Relief," which starts with Spanish dialogue and travels into a swift Latin mix of swaying horns and percussion. Terry opens the flow as he rides high on alto with a few Coltranish notes. "Harlem Matinee" is a beautiful ballad with a smooth trumpet and piano conversation. Terry is more than adept here on his rhythmic, extended improvisational solo.