East Coast Jazz, Ishmael Reed, Amina, Claudine Myers

Ron Scott | 3/18/2021, midnight
A collaboration of well-known jazz clubs on the East Coast have banded together for a maiden voyage multi-city East Coast ...
Amina Claudine Myers

A collaboration of well-known jazz clubs on the East Coast have banded together for a maiden voyage multi-city East Coast Jazz Festival, livestreamed online, March 20th (5 p.m. to 11 p.m). The proprietors of Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, Jan Mullen; Smalls Spike Milner and Birdland’s in New York, Chris’ Jazz Café Mark NeNinno in Philadelphia; Keystone Korner’s Todd Barkan in Baltimore and Harry Schnipper at Blues Alley in Washington, DC.

The music will include some pre-recorded sessions mixed in from five different live stages, showcasing the talents of more than 80 renowned jazz artists. “Our concept was totally spontaneous and came from the nucleus of Philadelphia and Baltimore reaching out. Team work makes the dream work,” said NEA Jazz Master Barkan. “This is our first effort to try and rebuild a jazz circuit along the East Coast. We hope to expand it to include more clubs in more cities in the future.”

Some of the many musicians featured at the five clubs will include at Smalls, the Warren Wolf Quartet (7 p.m.), and Mike Ledonne Quartet feat. Vincent Herring (9 p.m.); At Birdland (taped), Champian Fulton Quartet “Bird Song” A Charlie Parker Centennial Celebration; at 9 p.m. Houston Person Quartet; and Veronica Swift with The Emmet Cohen Trio. The pianist Christian Sands, trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and saxophonist Tia Fuller perform at Sculler’s. The saxophonist, composer Big Chief Donald Harrison with Warren Wolf, Kris Funn, Alex Brown, and John Lamkin III perform at Keystone Korner; Pianist Orrin Evans Quartet, with bassist Luques Curtis & drummer Mark Whitfield Jr, featuring special guest saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins at Chris’ Jazz Café. The pianists and composers Miki Yamanaka; Eri Yamamoto; and Yoko Miwa Trio will perform at Blues Alley. Online guests will be able to flip back and forth from one venue to another to check out each club’s shows. “Our music can be an indispensable spiritual life raft for our turbulent times when we need more sharing and caring than ever,” said Barkan.

To watch the East Coast Jazz Festival 2021 visit this link: https://page.inplayer.com/eastcoastjazzfestival/about.html.  

Renowned playwright, poet, author, and satirist Ishmael Reed takes aim at the New York City art world with “The Slave Who Loved Caviar,” his new play about the life and career of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The Nuyorican Poets Cafe will host two online readings of this new work, at 7 p.m. on March 20 and 21. The readings are directed by Rome Neal.

In this new work, Reed examines the racism directed at Basquiat, and the ways that Andy Warhol, the art establishment and the fashion industry exploited and profited from Basquiat’s artistry.

“Instead of ‘60 Minutes,’ we have what I call investigative theater a living newspaper that examines topical events and historical misrepresentation,” said Reed during a telephone interview. The playwright is America’s barometer against systemic institutions that blindly represent oppression. His plays offer quick wit, sharp humor that cuts through the heart of racism and in-depth research that sheds new light or another perspective. “We hope to put it on a live stage with audiences once everything is safe again,” says Reed.

The play also questions why racism toward Basquiat was allowed to masquerade as “Art Criticism,” and explores how Basquiat’s treatment implicates the New York City art world. “Real names and incidents are brought to life through vigorous research,” explained Reed. “In 1969 Reed stated in an arts magazine, ‘the New York art establishment has the ethics and morality of a heroin dealer.’ ”

A MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship winner, Reed has premiered multiple plays at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, including “Life Among the Aryans,” “The Final Version,” “Body Parts,” “Hubba City,” “The Preacher” and “The Rapper and C Above C Above High C,” as well as the sold-out 2019 run of “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda” (which was extended three times).

The online readings will be streamed live by the Nuyorican Poets Cafe via Zoom, YouTube and Facebook. Viewers can RSVP and access the Zoom link at bit.ly/ReedMarch20 (for the March 20th reading) or at bit.ly/ReedMarch21 (for the March 21 reading).

To stream the event on Facebook or YouTube, viewers can visit facebook.com/nuyoricanpoets or youtube.com/nuyoricanpoetscafe. For more information about the Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s online programs, please visit nuyorican.org.

While Amina Claudine Myers’ prominent career as a pianist, organist, vocalist, composer, arranger, and educator precedes her, her multi-faceted accomplishments have yet to receive the accolades she deserves.

On March 21 (3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.) she celebrates her birthday with a special solo piano performance and as Vision Festival 25 Lifetime Achievement Honoree (3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.). The performance will be streaming live from Scholes Music Studio. Following the performance, Myers will participate in the Artist Talk with Patricia Nicholson, Director Arts for Art and founder of the Vision Festival.

Myers has performed nationally and internationally throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and North America. She is well known for her work involving voice choirs, voice and instrumental ensembles. Myers is a visionary genius, who defies categorization, she was an actress and composed music for a number of Off-Broadway productions. She was the assistant musical director for “Ain’t Misbehavin’” prior to its Broadway production. In 1975 Myers took the reins and organized her very first choir for a musical she wrote called “I Dream.”

On the avant garde scene Myers is a big deal as member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), she started composing for voice and instruments. She has recorded and/or performed with such innovative musicians as Archie Shepp, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra, Bob Stewart, Gene Ammons, Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, and Henry Threadgill. She recorded 11 albums on her own label Amina C Records.

Her larger works include “Interiors,” a composition for chamber orchestra conducted by Peter Kotik and performed by S.E.M. Orchestra. This piece was produced by the AACM and performed at the NYC Society of Ethical Culture. 

Funds raised support the lifetime achievement programming at the Vision Festival, including the creation of a new biopic on Myers’ art and career. For viewing/ticket information visit the website Artsforart.org.