Blue Ark, Manhattan School of Music celebrates GHCC

Ron Scott | 10/25/2012, 4:47 p.m.

Amiri and Amina Baraka with Blue Ark: The Word Ship will set sail on Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. in Newark at the Blue Mirror, 257 Clinton Ave. (near Hayes Circle). The event is free.

The Barakas are dynamic poets in their own right, and together they bring forth words sharp as daggers that pierce the mind with wisdom and truth. The Blue Ark is Amiri Baraka's working band, which features pianist Adegoke Steve Colson, bassist Calvin Jones, drummer Rudy Walker, Rene McLean on reeds, saxophonist Howard Wiley and vocalist Eugene "Goldie" Goldston. This is a hard swinging ensemble that will only bring more depth and a rhythmic flow to the words of Amiri and his wife, Amina.

Baraka performs with his Blue Ark ensemble as often as possible in Newark to keep the jazz tradition alive in a city that was once a stimulating hotbed for the music. Being so close to New York City, Newark always had a degree of hipness. Musicians set up engagements on both sides of the river and Newark residents saw the best in jazz at clubs like the Key Club, Six Steps Down, Club Harold and Laurel Garden.

The Terrace Ballroom was the place to catch the big bands of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Andy Kirk; Billie Holiday was in the Front Room; the super saxophonist Illinois Jacquet, Len Hope and Bullmoose Jackson could be seen at the Masonic Temple; and Little Esther and Tito Puente performed at Lloyd's Manor.

Amiri Baraka, who still resides in his hometown of Newark, stated, "I saw Charlie Parker at the Silver Saddle, which is now called the Blue Mirror. We used to leave high school to go to the Adams Theater to catch all the big name jazz musicians."

There is a cash bar and food is available for purchase. For more information, call 973-732-7979. The Word Ship will be floating with new poetry and music. Be ready for some swinging inspiration.

Harlem will be sizzling with Latin sounds as the Manhattan School of Music kicks off its yearlong "Harlem Nights" concert series with "Harlem Hothouses," a concert tribute to the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce (GHCC) by MSM's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, led by the renowned composer, arranger and percussionist Bobby Sanabria and featuring NEA Jazz Master the legendary Cuban-born conguero Candido Camero. At age 91, the "Father of Modern Conga Drumming" is still at the top of his game. He made history at the world-famous Apollo Theater in 1952 when he was the first to perform on three tuned conga drums with pianist Joe Loco's group.

The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. in the Manhattan School of Music's Borden Auditorium, 120 Claremont Ave. at 122nd Street, near Broadway. A minimal ticket price is required for admission.

"This program will include tributes to the Savoy, Cotton Club, Park Palace, Minton's Playhouse, Jazzmobile, Clef Club, as well as Harlemites Duke Ellington, Frankie Manning and Norma Miller, Dr. Billy Taylor, Paul Robeson and James Reese Europe," stated Sanabria. "There will also be a world premiere of MSM alumnus Dr. Jeremy Fletcher's tribute to Ralph Ellison's stunning 1952 book, 'Invisible Man.'"