Brooklyn was one of the hottest boroughs in Gotham, with jazz musicians such as Max Roach, Cecil Payne and Randy Weston all being born there and later turning the little city into a hotbed for jazz. The place was so hot, Miles Davis, Roy Haynes and Freddie Hubbard all flocked to its many clubs to perform. Today, its reputation has dwindled, but Sista’s Place, under the watch of Viola Plummer, is keeping its jazz reputation alive and swinging.
As Sista’s Place celebrates its 20th anniversary, the club is dedicating the festivities of March for Women’s History Month. The month celebrates “Women in Jazz,” featuring Kim Clarke’s “Lady Got Chops.” Every Saturday, noted jazz women will hit Sista’s stage.
March 14, vocalist Tulivu Donna Cumberbatch, another jazz treasure from Brooklyn, will perform. Her early influences were Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan. She has a deep timbre that swings between blues and jazz with a strong belt of gospel, which she learned early on while singing in church choirs.
Cumberbatch has impressed audiences from Europe to the Caribbean, having performed with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Kotoko Society and Hannibal Peterson.
“It’s an honor to be a part of the ‘Women in Jazz’ celebration. I feel that my father, who was a great jazz musician, passed the torch to me and I intend to run with it,” said Cumberbatch. “It is especially an honor to participate in the Lady Got Chops Festival at Sista’s Place with the beautiful, courageous, inspirational women and men of this wonderful establishment.”
The guitarist Monette Sandler, who swings with a style from Joe Pass to Wes Montgomery, will also perform. March 21, Mavis Swan Poole and Jeremy “Bean” Clemons will perform. Lady Got Chops offers its finale March 28 with Lil Phillips shouting the blues and more in celebration of the music of James Phillips, the composer of the Sista’s Place theme.
“I named the fest Lady Got Chops as a somewhat satirical response or twist to ‘Baby Got Back,’” said Clark. “She has a brain, and she can play.”
Sista’s Place is located at 456 Nostrand Ave., at the corner of Jefferson Avenue. The esteemed club continues to bring cutting-edge artists who represent the art form into the Bedford-Stuyvesant community.
Admission is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. For reservations, call 718-398-1766.
In Harlem, Women’s History Month will be celebrated at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (135th and Malcolm X Boulevard), with its 2015 Women’s Jazz Festival beginning at 7 p.m. Nona Hendryx opened the festival March 9. Curated by musician and producer Toshi Reagon, the festival is currently in its 23rd year.
March 16, Grammy-winning composer, arranger and drummer Teri Lyne Carrington’s Money Jungle will perform. Lyne’s Money Jungle is a tribute to Duke Ellington’s recorded trio date with bassist Charlie Mingus and drummer Max Roach. The 1962 album “Money Jungle” emerged from those sessions, which were a commentary on the tug-of-war between art and commerce. Carrington’s 2013 release, “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue,” featured cover songs from Ellington, Mingus and Roach’s 1962 album, winning her the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. She has played with Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Clark Terry, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Sample, Al Jarreau and the Yellowjackets.
In recent years, her band configurations have included Esperanza Spalding, Geri Allen, Helen Sung, Patrice Rushen and Aruan Ortiz. Money Jungle’s abled ensemble will include Carrington, along with pianist Aaron Parks, saxophonist Antonio Hart, bassist James Genus, guitarist Matt Stevens, flutist and vocalist Elena Pinderhughes and vocalist Alyson Williams.
March 23, the Great Women of Blues and Jazz features Reagon, Allison Miller, Mimi Jones, Shamie Royston, Christelle Durandy and Tamar-Kali. The celebration concludes March 30 with the vocalist Catherine Russell, who swings down soulful avenues to jazz streets whether she is fronting a small group or big band.
The young saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin, who performs on the same bill, has developed into quite a musician since being under the tutelage of her mentor, Bill Saxton. She rolls in funk or deep rhymes, having played with Stevie Wonder, the Roots and Alicia Keys. Tickets are $25 for members and $30 for non-members. For more information, visit schomburgcenter.eventbrite.com.
Harlem’s own Tina Fabrique, who received rave reviews for her performance “Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald,” will perform at the Kitano March 13 for two shows at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
She is at home on stage as a jazz singer or on Broadway in such productions as “Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk,” “Ragtime” and straight dramatic roles such as “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Glass Menagerie.” She was honored to have received Florida’s Carbonell Award recently for her performance as Ella Fitzgerald in “Ella,” a show that has taken her to regional theaters across the U.S. For her two sets, she will be singing songs from the Great American Songbook, as well as tunes from “Ella.”
The Kitano is located at 66 Park Ave. at East 38th Street. The cover is $30 plus a $15 minimum. For reservations, call 212-885-7119.