New York City jazz fans know it’s summer when they notice the birds flapping their wings over Harlem, grooving to the Summerfest Jazzmobile running full steam from July to August.
Jazzmobile offers the best jazz in Gotham, and these free concerts have introduced thousands of folks to jazz. On July 18, Harlem’s own vocal stylist Melba Joyce will grace the flatbed stage in Marcus Garvey Park (Mt. Morris Park West/122nd Street and Fifth Avenue).
Joyce boasts a strong timbre can hit high notes as well as the gritty blues tones that bring chills. She has performed at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, China and Russia. Whereever she is performing is the place to be.
On July 23, “The Lion” (originally a young lion), Jeremy Pelt, will perform at Grant’s Tomb (General Grant National Park/122nd Street and Riverside Drive). The trumpeter-composer continues to introduce compositions that create waves in the jazz pool. His latest release, “Water and Earth” (High Note Records, 2013), represents his goal of moving forward with a fresh momentum.
The saxophonist Yosvany Terry will bring his mix of Afro-Cuban jazz to Marcus Garvey Park on July 25. Terry is a native of Cuba who, since arriving in New York, is absorbing the jazz tradition and building on it using his native rhythms. His music is vibrant with intense colors that stir the music close to the edge.
On July 30, percussionist, drummer, composer and arranger Bobby Sanabria comes to Grant’s Tomb. Sanabria, with a stroCng history of Latin music and jazz, has a reputation of marrying the two genres, which assures audiences they will be moving to every beat.
All shows begin at 7 p.m. and will go on unless Mother Nature states otherwise.
July marks the 50th anniversary of Jazzmobile, which was founded in 1964 by Billy Taylor and Daphane Arnstein, who introduced live jazz at no cost to the Harlem community and the surrounding boroughs.
The program was later extended to include Summerfest, lecture demonstrations for public school students, Saturday jazz workshops and vocal competitions.
“As we begin an 18-month celebration of our birth, we look back with pride that it is Jazzmobile who brought Duke Ellington and Count Basie to the streets of Harlem; who during one concert honored the legendary Sarah Vaughan and presented an emerging performer, Wynton Marsalis, with his own group,” stated Robin Bell-Stevens, director of Jazzmobile.
For more information, visit jazzmobile.org.
Joe Locke appears at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (60th Street and Broadway) tonight through July 20, with two shows nightly at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. His abled quartet includes pianist Jim Ridi, bassist Lorin Cohen, drummer Clarence Penn and guest vocalist Kenny Washington.
Locke is the hippest vibraphonist since Cal Tjader, although when it comes to straight-up jazz, Milt Jackson remains the man, along with Bobby Hutchinson and Lionel Hampton, who was the father of the instrument. At this point, Locke may very well be the elder of instrument. Like his predecessors, Locke continues to explore unchartered paths that reflect an adventurous sound with composing skills that shine.
Washington is a real treat. There are not many male singers on today’s scene who can touch this vocalist. He has a range from gutsy blues to sweet ballads, scatting and hard swinging. Since he lives on the West Coast, seeing Washington isn’t a daily occurrence. Don’t miss the opportunity.
For more information, call 212-258-9595.
The Bronx Music Heritage Center (1303 Louis Nine Blvd.) on July 19 will present the Women and Drum Festival 4-8:30 p.m. Come celebrate women and percussive traditions in New York City and Africa. The event is co-produced by the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts.
At 4 p.m., there will be a free screening of the film “Sweet Dreams,” about a group of Rwandan women who defy the devastation of genocide to form the country’s first all-female drumming troupe and open the country’s first ice cream shop. There will be a Q and A with director.
At 6 p.m., there will be a dance and shekere class, led by the Legacy Women Drummers. For more information, visit bronxmusic.org. The center offers an enlightening music schedule of events that are well worth the Bronx trip. They also offer free visual arts and conga classes.
Charles Tolliver, the fearless trumpeter, big band leader and composer, is currently enjoying a run at the Cell as its resident musician. He will be performing at the theater space (338 W. 23rd St.) on July 19 at 8:30 p.m.
The quintet with pianist Teo Hill, guitarist Bruce Edwards, bassist Daven Starks and drummer E.J. Strickland recently returned from a tour of Europe.
Last week, Essiet Essiet sat in on bass with Jonathan Thomas on piano. Despite the substitutions, the intuitive motor ran the course as planned. Essiet is always on par. Improvising is his game, and the young Thomas was ready for the journey.
Since Tolliver organized this group, they have exploded into one of the most exhilarating bands on the scene. They are working like an intuitive locomotive that is always on the right track.
The band’s walking solos seem to move into a free mode, but they always meet at the bridge, arriving in the station on the right note, but one would not expect any less from Tolliver, who is well aware of the avant-garde set. A musician known for his big band arrangements and compositions that always take listeners down an unsuspected road.
“We have been working together as a unit for a while now, and I am pleased with our results,” said Tolliver. Watching this group’s tenacious playing is proof of their noted ability. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: In reporting the death of Horace Silver, it was stated that only one musician, Sonny Rollins, was alive from the photo “A Great Day in Harlem.” However, saxophonist Benny Golson is also alive and well.