What happened? Summer is over already? Not fair. The winter seems to hang on like a hungry alligator, but the summer sun fads into the wintry night like a Billie Holiday blues song.
Oops, no need for the summer blues quite yet. We can let that blackbird continue chirping its own hip tune. Jazzmobile Summerfest 55 is still on the scene and Sept. 6 swings into Wayanda Park in Queens (7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.).
Featured will be the native New Yorker drummer/multi-instrumentalist and producer Camille Gainer-Jones, whose street cred reputation includes Nikki D, “Up the Ante for the Pante” (Def-Jam Recordings); FU2, “Boomin in Ya Jeep” (MCA Recordings); “G-Clef Meets Funky Drummer Camille” volumes I and II (Tuff City Records); and jazz stints with Roy Ayers, Roberta Flack, Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Chuck Mangione and Marc Cary. Playing and producing with such a diverse group of musicians demonstrates that she understands the concept of the hard grove. Give the drummer some.
Sept. 7 the trombonist, composer, conceptualist Craig Harris will take advantage of this rain date. Joining him on this date will be his diversified ensemble, pianist Yoichi Uzeki drummer Ronnie Buragge, vocalist Carla Cook and saxophonist Jay Rodriguez .
When Harris is onstage, be assured there will be a party going on and some other stuff just to keep you in the groove. Whether he’s in the European Alps or in Harlem, he keeps the music real. Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park (124th Street and Fifth Avenue), from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Sept. 14, Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band performs in Marcus Garvey Park (7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.). There is not enough time or space for me to discuss this drummer, percussionist, arranger, conductor and activist contributions. Let’s say, first Google Sanabria, and then make sure you make this gig, or you will miss out on a historical jazz moment.
He was the drummer for the acknowledged creator of Afro-Cuban jazz, Mario Bauzá, touring and recording three CDs with him. His other collaborations include artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Paquito D’Rivera, Candido, The Mills Brothers, Henry Threadgill, Larry Harlow, Celia Cruz and Pedrito Martinez.
Sanabria’s 2012 big band recording, inspired by the writings of Mexican author Octavio Paz, entitled “MultiVerse,” was nominated for two Grammys.
His latest recording released in July 2018 is a monumental Latin jazz reworking of the entire score of “West Side Story” entitled “West Side Story Reimagined” (Jazzheads), in celebration of the show’s recent 60th anniversary (2017) and its composer’s, Maestro Leonard Bernstein, centennial (2018). Partial proceeds from the sale of this two-CD set go to the Jazz Foundation of America’s Puerto Rico Relief Fund to aid Sanabria’s ancestral homeland after the devastation from hurricanes Irma and Maria.
For more information and the lineup, visit visit Jazzmobile.org.
The Harlem Jazz Series is artistically directed by Craig Harris. The trombonist and longtime Harlem resident’s goal is to keep the flames of Harlem’s live music tradition burning high.
The series takes place at the Greater Calvary Baptist Church (53-55 West 124th St.) every Tuesday afternoon. The first set is noon to 12:45 p.m. and the second set is 1 p.m.to 1:45 p.m. Admission is $15.
Friday evenings, the first set is 7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. and the second set is 8 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Admission is $20.
During Friday evenings, the music, like Harris, will venture across genres as invited musicians from the traditional and improvisational twilight take you on unforeseen journeys of visual, spoken word, theater and dance. These exciting artistic meetups make Friday’s Harlem Jazz Series a cultural indulgence with unique experiences for all the senses, meant to uplift mentally and spiritually.
Sept. 7, the multi-instrumentalist Kali. Z. Fasteau will perform. Specializing in spontaneous composition, she performs on nai, kaval and shakuhachi flutes and piano. She also sings. She has studied the music of Asia, Africa and 20th century Europe along with jazz
Sept. 11, the pianist Yoichi Uzeki performs. The Tokyo native has performed with Pharoah Sanders, James Spaulding, Vanessa Rubin and Chanda Rule (from noon to 12:45 p.m.).
For a complete listing, visit the website https://www.harlemjazzboxx.com.
The third annual Sugar Hill Music
Festival, “Strings & Things,” jumps off Sept. 8 at the Sugar Hill Luminaries Lawn (155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue) at 3 p.m.
The line-up will include Regina Carter, her violin brilliance of sublime blues, Detroit swing and straight-ahead rhythms will have you moving on the edge of your lawn chair. The pianist Xavier Davis has played with everyone from Betty Carter to Christian McBride Big Band and the Ron Blake Quartet. The way he plays the pearly whites tickles your toes. The Sugar Hill Quartet, with vocalist T.C. the 3rd, is always a winner. T.C. has a unique vocal instrument.
Rounding out the festival will be the Firey String Sistas!, a highly intuitive and energetic ensemble. The ensemble is committed to pushing the limits of string, ensemble playing and improvisation to the next level. Founder and cellist Nioka Workman is joined by violinist Marlene Rice, bassist Melissa Slocum, vocalist/pianist Mala Waldron and percussionist Camille Gainer-Jones. This event has the makings of one of the outstanding festivals of the summer.
Matana Roberts is one of the most emotionally moving alto saxophonists of this century. Recently, she appeared for two days at the Jazz Gallery in Manhattan. The first night she played solo as she usually does. The second night the drummer Gerald Cleaver accompanied her.
They were an improvisational duo listening to each other as if in a real relationship, giving each other a platform on which to be themselves. Her saxophone roared with forceful riffs and his cymbals shattered like lightning. Drums and sax met at the pass, as she flurried on, intoxicating my mind with real thought while his drum rattled my ear canals with melodic beats.
When Roberts plays solo, her tone is rich and bold, with deliberate rhythms that take liberties with your inner being. I feel the notes running through my veins. Then she stops.
“I’ve been playing this horn for 20 years and still can’t play it the way I want,” she said, one of the comments she makes during her solo breaks. “I promise not to go on an Omarosa commentary.” She laughed.
Some observations are personal, some political, some related to her music experiences. You will not be bored with her music pushing you into her world of colossal music.
She has recorded nine albums as a solo bandleader and four with Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar, plus collaborations and as a guest artist. She formed a trio, Sticks and Stones, with bassist Josh Abrams and drummer Chad Taylor.
Roberts is the composer of “Coin Coin” (Constellation), a multichapter musical work-in-progress exploring themes of history, memory and ancestry that to date includes three CDs, all worth hearing and feeling. See her when you can.