Harlem Jazz & Music, Miles Davis film, Melvis Santa

Ron Scott | 8/29/2019, 2:03 p.m.
The Harlem Jazz & Music Festival began Aug. 10 and runs through Aug. 31. This first annual festival is being ...
Jazz Notes

The Harlem Jazz & Music Festival began Aug. 10 and runs through Aug. 31. This first annual festival is being presented in a variety of venues throughout Harlem.

On Aug. 29 (tonight) the festival celebrates the 55th anniversary of the Harlem School of the Arts (located at 142nd-144th Streets on St. Nicholas Avenue) featuring New York City’s hottest salsa band Aurora Flores & Zon Del Barrio and the Harlem School of the Arts All Stars, at 7 p.m.

On Aug. 30 it’s Uptown Friday Nite at Showman’s Jazz Club (375 West 125th Street) with trumpeter Joey Morant. One of the community’s favorite trumpeters touring and recording with such musicians as Roy Ayers, Tina Turner, George Benson and Morant was a member of the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band. For reservations call 212-864-8941; music from

9 p.m.-12 a.m.

Just a few blocks away Harlem Late Night Jazz @ Mist Harlem will feature the saxophonist Bobby LaVell (9 p.m.-1 a.m.). His eclectic style has given him the opportunity to play with the Four Tops and his own Bobby LaVell Jazz Orchestra. For reservations call 212-828-6478.

On Aug. 31 Jazz Brunches at Floridita (12th Ave. & west 126th Street) featuring Harlem’s own saxophonist and composer Bill Saxton, noon to 3 p.m. Later in the evening Uptown Saturday Night @ Showman’s salutes “Great Harlem musician” Cynthia Holiday featuring Janice Marie Robinson & Friends. For reservations call 212-864-8941.

The festival celebrates Harlem’s last two remaining historic sites. Showman’s premier jazz club dates back to 1942. Their original location was two doors from the Apollo Theater. It was the haunt where Sammy Davis, Jr., Pearl Bailey and Eartha Kitt hung out between sets. It was a favorite of hoofer Honi Coles and newsmen like Jimmy Hicks and Major Robinson (formerly of this publication), who were looking for scoops. It was told to me that Langston Hughes had a typewriter in the back where he and James Baldwin would retreat for writing.

The final spot still in play is Minton’s, the original house of bebop founded in 1938 by the saxophonist, bandleader and union representative Henry Minton. The trombonist, arranger and composer once noted “there were more musicians online trying to get in Minton’s than regular paying customers.”

The highly anticipated film “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” by award winning filmmaker and documentarian Stanley Nelson opened last week at the Film Forum (209 West Houston Street, Manhattan). It runs now through Sept. 5, and Sept. 6-12 in Brooklyn at BAM. Length of the film is 1:54:58 (Abramorama and Eagle Rock Entertainment, consulting producer Marcia Smith, producer Nicole London, produced and directed by Stanley Nelson).

This is the best film of 2019 and one of the best ever done on a jazz musician. Nelson goes in hard, dismantling many of the Miles Davis myths that spread throughout America and Europe as gospel. “Birth of the Cool” portrays Miles as a human being, a Black man in America with frailties and fears that dropped him into the confines of drug addiction; his personal life experiences and insecurities that led him to abuse women; and his physical confrontation with NYC police in 1959 at the Birdland jazz club in New York City, once again proving racism was alive and well.