The Bronx African-American History Project (BAAHP) is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a day and evening of free events, workshops, lectures and concerts.
Trumpeter-composer Jimmy Owens will be the featured musician for the BAAHP celebration on April 6 at the Fordham University Bronx campus (441 East Fordham Road) in the McGinley Student Center at 8 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public but you must register.
Owens, born and raised in the Bronx, is the only National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master from the borough. He will debut his original composition “The Bronx Suite” with his abled ensemble, which includes trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, tenor saxophonist Patience Higgins, guitarist Michael Howell, pianist Danny Mixon, bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Winard Harper.
Owens grew up on 168th Street between Union and Prospect avenues, attending P.S. 99, J.H.S. 40 and the High School of Music and Art. “Many of the people I went to school with are dead, in prison or poverty stricken,” stated Owens. “To be in a special music class was very important in my life. It saved me and my friends in music. ‘The Bronx Suite’ is about some of the experiences I had growing up. This work translates it into music and words.”
While living in the Bronx, Owens worked with such jazz musicians as Lionel Hampton, Charles Mingus and Gerry Mulligan. He became more diverse by playing with Latin, calypso and R&B bands.
“We’re all pumped up about this,” said Mark Naison, Ph.D. professor of African and African-American studies and founder and principal investigator of the BAAHP.
The BAAHP started out 10 years ago to create a database for scholars and people in the community to access the Bronx’s African-American history and dispel perceptions of the borough as a rundown, drug-infested urban wasteland. In the process, it tapped into an undocumented legacy of the vibrant, grassroots music scene that was born in neighborhoods like Morrisania and spread to the rest of the country.
“What makes me so happy is one of Dr. Naison’s former students got a special grant for me to write and perform this music,” said Owens. “I am grateful to the Viola family for financially supporting this project.”
At 5:30 p.m., “I Love the Bronx: The Musical Life of Dr. Valarie Capers,” a rough-cut documentary about the acclaimed Bronx jazz pianist, directed by Dawn Russell, will be shown. Others on the roster are Bronx hip-hop artists Circa 95 and Rebel Diaz. There will be a DJ dance party that will last into the night. Visit http://theconcertbaahp10thanniversary.eventbrite.com or call 718-817-4339 for more information.
Jazz pianist and producer Onaje Allan Gumbs and New Vintage will converge at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Cafe, 30 Lafayette Ave., on April 6 at 9 p.m. Admission is free.
Gumbs’ guest musicians are bassist Gregory M. Jones, drummer EJ Strickland, Gregoire Maret on harmonica and percussionist Gary Fritz. The majority of the music was composed by Gumbs and the finale was written by one of the artists, Darien Dean.
“The concept for New Vintage is placing young and seasoned artists of different disciplines together working side by side,” noted Gumbs. “It’s about bringing Black American African Music truly under one roof.”
Some New Vintage performers (singers, dancers, musicians and poets) will include Jordan Young (18-year-old saxophonist), Enoch Jamel, Jean Caze (trumpet and flugelhorn), Angela Johnson, Abiodun Oyewole, Roger Bynam (saxophones), Autum Ashante, Toni Blackman, and Tai Allen with actor-director-singer Vondie-Curtis Hall acting as MC for the evening.
Onaje’s distinctive piano sound is heard on a variety of collaborated fronts with Norman Connors, Nat Adderley, Woody Shaw and Angela Bofill.
The WBGO Kids Jazz Concert Series features drummer, educator and composer Bobby Sanabria on April 6 at Newark Symphony Hall (1020 Broad St.), 12:30 p.m. Free and open to the public.
Sanabria, a historian on the genre of Latin music, including Afro-Cuban jazz, will entertain the question, “What is Latin jazz?” Families will be introduced to the idioms, concepts and historical timeline of Afro-Caribbean and Pan-American rhythms in a jazz context.
These interactive, hour-long concerts give kids opportunities to learn about the distinct qualities of jazz and why it is America’s original music. Children get the chance to see and hear live music being played in a fun way–an opportunity that is rare in public schools.
These Kids Jazz Saturdays (taking place during the spring and fall) are introducing a new jazz audience to the fold. No, it won’t be tomorrow, but hopefully as these children get older, such music experiences will inspire them to follow the music as fans or performers.
Tickets are handed out in the lobby on a first-come, first-served basis. Adults must be accompanied by a child. Check out the WBGO kids jazz section at wbgo.org.