Joel Ross, the young vibraphonist from Chicago is no longer an aspiring musician. He is a qualified, daring rhythmic independent, who brings his own perspective to the vibraphone. His rapid mallets swing from the tradition of Lionel Hampton to Bobby Hutchinson and his own path that leads listeners through unexplored roads.
June 29 and June 30, Ross will revisit his 2017 “Jazz Gallery Commission: Being a Young Black Man.” His expressive ensemble will include saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Harish Raghavan, drummer Marcus Gilmore and spoken word artist Jasmine Wilson.
Ross’ “Gallery Commission” premier was revolution music moving with fired rhythms, deep blues and soulful improvisation that represents “Being a Young Black Man.” This revisit will probably bring more fire, given the mood of today’s society.
The Jazz Gallery is located at 1160 Broadway (Fifth Floor). Two sets each night are at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Admission is $25 for nonmembers and $10 for members. For reservations, visit the website www.jazzgallery.org.
The African Cinema Film Series (June 29-July 1) is an honest perspective of Africa from those who are living the experience on a daily basis. African filmmakers explore their continent’s complexity and challenges through comedies, documentaries and dramas that will open your eyes to the stories that affect them.
The series at Teachers College, Columbia University (525 W. 120th St.) opens with a free screening of “The Big Banana,” at 7 p.m.
Banned in Cameroon, “The Big Banana” illustrates the poor working conditions in banana plantations and exposes the adverse impact on the people of a corporatocracy government that affords super-profits for corporations at the expense of the local population.
July 1, at 4 p.m., “The Man Who Mends Women,” presents the life and work of renowned gynecologist Dr. Denis Mukwege from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He medically assisted more than 40,000 sexually abused women in 16 years of professional practice.
Sexual violence against women has been used as a weapon of war for years in the violence-ridden and poverty-stricken Democratic Republic of Congo. To provide medical, psychological and emotional aid to the victims, Dr. Mukwege founded the Panzi hospital in Bukavu in 1999.
Dr. Mukwege also defends human rights and seeks to raise global awareness on the issue of sexual violence in his country. He condemns the political reluctance to tackle the problem.
General admission for screenings is $13, and for students and seniors, admission is $10. For a complete film schedule, visit the websites
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/africa-cinema-film-series–tickets and www.africandiasporainternationalfilmfestival.
There are many Ethiopian Restaurants in Harlem to choose from, including Massawa at 1239 Amsterdam Ave. and 121st Street and Abyssinia at 268 W. 135th St., which is not surprising. However, on a recent visit to West Palm Beach, Fla. a close friend, Stewart Bosley, a former New Yorker, who has since relocated and is now the owner/operator of Urban Growers Community Farm, introduced me to his favorite restaurant in town.
“Hey I have the perfect restaurant for you, the Queen of Sheeba,” said Bosley. “It’s Ethiopian and the food is great.”
Because West Palm never had such a restaurant, the concept was more than intriguing. He was right. The food was great, and afterward he introduced me to the chef Lojo Washington and her co-owner husband William Washington.
The food was so delightful I felt obligated to give it a mention. I’m not sure how many of you will actually end up in West Palm Beach, although it is the place for snowbirds. If you do, Queen of Sheeba is in the heart of the small Black community (on Seventh Street and North Sapodilla Avenue). It is the place for wonderful home-cooked Ethiopian food for lunch or dinner.
Washington said when she originally opened in 2006, it was a soul food takeout place that served everything from neck bones to black eye peas, okra and tomatoes, chicken and fried fish. During that time, she established a relationship with the community. “They watched me build the restaurant up and were very supportive,” said Washington. “Now it’s like a family,”
As part of the soul food takeout, Lojo started a book club for the young people in the neighborhood. It was a great place for them to come discuss books and she offered snacks. “I would like to do that again in the future,” said the soft-spoken Washington with a smile.
Her husband is from Louisiana, where his mother Mildred Washington still resides. His mother’s cooking during their frequent visits inspired Lojo to open a restaurant. “When I was cooking soul food, many of the recipes came from his mother,” she noted.
In 2014, Washington revamped her soul food takeout into a sit-down Ethiopian restaurant Queen of Sheeba. “I changed because I was more familiar with my native food,” she explained. “I introduced the neighborhood to Ethiopian food and they like it.” Her clientele consists of community folks, tourists and people looking to expand their palates.
Plant life hovers over the outdoor patio sheltering customers from the sun. The interior that is lined with antique furniture is a treasure cove of memorabilia, including an early photo of her mom and dad in Ethiopia, souvenirs from South Africa, chandeliers and interesting photographs from her international travels. Erika is the persevering waitress, hostess and all-around warm spirit
The portions of food are more than enough—the combinations of vegetables with fish, chicken or beef. The imported African tea and beer can’t be beat. Eating there is as comfortable and friendly as eating in your own dining room.
Forget about the fork. Just use the injera bread to scoop everything up. You will be hard-pressed to find a restaurant with such great food and two wonderful owners like Lojo and William Washington. Check their website
The bassist, composer and poet William Parker is one of those genius cats who deserves more play Uptown, but the politics of the jazz police are kind of strict when it comes to musicians, who from their perspective play far out of their confined minds.
Parker playing Uptown isn’t difficult to understand when one realizes that during this year’s annual Vision Festival, organized by Parker and his wife, Patricia Nicholson Parker, the saxophonist, composer, activist Archie Shepp, who flew in from France to be part of the festival never played once Uptown. So much for Uptown hipness.
No worries. June 28 through June 30 Parker will stand tall and stand out at The Stone Residency (The New School at 55 W. 13th St.) as he celebrates the release of his three-CD vocal and instrumental box set, “Voices Fall From the Sky.”
This Parker treasure box comprises three distinct and complementary albums with focus on the voice: 17 singers are featured. The bassist composed and produced all the songs. Half of this collection are brand-new recordings and half are Parker-curated selections of previously released material that has been unavailable or is presented here in a new form.
Some of the varied musicians playing with Parker at the Stone June 28 (8:30 p.m.) will include the trombonists Jim Staley, Steve Swell and Masahiko Kono; Joe McPhee (brass); and Lower Mixed Chamber Ensemble: Jeff Schlanger (didgeridoo), Walter Stinson (bass), William Parker (Eb ophicleide) and Peter Dennis (bass). It will be the World Premiere of “White Wine Positions,” dedicated to the German trombonist Johannes Bauer, July 22, 1954-May 6, 2016.
June 29 a different ensemble takes the stage with Parker that will feature “Music for Cosmic Octet”—“Eventual” (for Sunny Murray), with trombonist Steve Swell, trumpeter Jaime Branch, alto saxophonists Rob Brown and Darius Jones, tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, pianist Cooper Moore and drummer William Hooker.