Blue is a mainstay in Randy Weston’s African Rhythms ensemble and has also worked with Don Cherry, Abdullah Ibrahim, Sam Rivers, Archie Shepp, Dizzy Gillespie, Melba Liston, Johnny Copeland and Billy Higgins. His Pan-Africanism and world scope of the music gives him an exciting story of improvisational perspectives to share.
On May 8 at Harlem Stage Gate House (150 Convent Ave. at 135th Street), there will be trumpeter Christian Atunde Adjuah Double Quartet: “Stretch Music in Tribute to Clark Monroe’s Uptown House.” Adjuah is known for his fast riffs and composing that infuses his roots of New Orleans, encompassing everything from the blues, to jazz, and soul marching moves of the Big Chief.
Upon arriving in New York and residing in Harlem, Charlie Parker eventually became friends with Monroe and began hanging out at his spot on a regular basis where he continued to perfect his unique sound sitting in with a variety of musicians, who began to dig his sound. It was also his place to get free meals.
On any given night, musicians and fans moved between Minton’s and Monroe’s at 198 W. 134th St. These were the main two clubs for jam sessions and the brewing of bebop. Max Roach was a member of the house band. For more schedule information, visit Harlemstage.org or call 212-281-9240, ext. 19.
The Savoy Ballroom, unlike some clubs in Harlem, was integrated and became “the home of happy feet.” It was about the music and dancing, which is what jazz was all about during that era. It opened in 1926 and closed in 1958. The Savoy was a huge hall that stretched from 140th to 141st streets on Lenox Avenue. The Savoy, owned by Jay Faggen and Moe Gale, was modeled after their downtown venue Roseland Ballroom, which was reserved for “whites only.”
The Savoy featured great battles of the bands, such as the one between Benny Goodman and Chick Webb’s Big Band. It was the home of the Lindy Hop dancers, where crazy, almost death-defying gravity steps became the moves of the day, and no one was better than Frankie Manning (May 26, 1914-April 27, 2009). He was the original choreographer of the dancehall’s Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, started by Herbert Whitey.
The Jazzmobile Vocal Competition on May 10 at MIST Harlem (46 W. 116th St.) begins at 7 p.m. Former winners participating will include Queen Esther and Laura Braden with emcee and noted singer Alyson Williams.
On May 10, Jazzmobile will celebrate Manning’s 100th birthday with a big dance at MIST Harlem (46 W. 116th St.) from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. featuring the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra. “Our mission is to revive the music of the big band era and to preserve this music in its living form and re-establish Harlem as the big band mecca of the world,” stated the orchestra’s leader, Ron Allen.
The Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival is a partnership with Jazzmobile, Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage and Columbia University. For information on the festival, please visit www.harlemjazzshrines.org. There is a charge for each event plus drink minimums. Reservations are required for all events. For upcoming events for Jazzmobile and its other programs, go to www.jazzmobile.org.