Summertime for jazz lovers offers as many opportunities to see great outdoor concerts and festivals as birds chirping their favorite songs. Now through Aug. 10, the Montclair Jazz Festival is busting out, celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Territorial New Yorkers don’t frown, it is that musical jazz bridge that connects us to New Jersey, and Montclair is less than two hours away by car or NJ Transit—and the lineup is kicking.
On Aug. 1, one of the music’s most invigorating young musicians, pianist and organist Matthew Whitaker (B-3 Organ Party), will perform at Montclair Brewery, 7:30 p.m. The music prodigy is also a Jazz House Kids alumnus.
On Aug. 2 Jazz House Classics film series with Montclair Films features its second film ”Anatomy Of A Murder,” a legendary score by pianist/composer Duke Ellington. A pre-film performance will be presented by Jazz House Kids at 7 p.m., 30 minutes before showtime.
On Aug. 3 the young vocalist Candice Reyes Quartet featuring Nathan Eklund, she is gaining an impressive fan base in the Tri-State area with CRQ. Her recent album ”Your Way” features MJF’s artistic director Christian McBride on bass and Grammy-nominated trumpeter Nathan Eklund.
At 8:30 p.m. the pianist Oscar Pérez Quintet takes the stage. The native New Yorker received his formal education at New England Conservatory and the Aaron Copland School of Music under the guidance of Danilo Pérez (no relation) and Sir Roland Hanna.
On Aug. 10 the Grand Finale outdoor concert (12 p.m.–9 p.m.) celebrates the 100th year of jazz master drummer Art Blakey with the theme “Free For All,” at Nishuane Park. Performers will include the eclectic interpreter of soul music Bettye LaVette making her debut festival appearance on the Bravitas Group Main stage, the salsa and Latin jazz proprietor ten-time Grammy Award-winning pianist, composer and NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri, plus over 150 International Jazz House Kids.
The festival’s artistic director, bassist and composer Christian McBride will perform in honor of the centennial of the iconic Art Blakey under the theme “Free For All” with his powerhouse quartet: Hammond B-3 organist Joey DeFrancesco, guitarist Mark Whitfield, and drummer Quincy Phillips.
The finale will be hosted by actress (NBC-TV “Law and Order” series) S. Epatha Merkerson and WBGO FM host Gary Walker and live streamed on the Festival’s Facebook page.
“I’m thrilled to be bringing nonstop music, dance, fun, food and festivities to the people of Montclair, of New Jersey, of New York City, of my home state of Pennsylvania and to the people nationwide and worldwide who will be with us throughout the Festival,” said McBride. “I’ve performed at just about every jazz festival there is, and I have to say that this homegrown festival that Melissa and I created is one of a kind and extra joyful. We are grateful to everyone who makes it happen especially this year as we extend the jazz party to two weeks and celebrate one of my jazz heroes, Art Blakey.”
Jazz House Kids has served over 50,000 New Jersey kids and has been swinging doors open for 16 years, and their emerging musicians are soloing and singing their way to greatness. Annual programs help over 1500 young people from all backgrounds gain an artistic edge through music, mentoring, education and apprenticeship.
For a complete schedule and tickets visit the website montclairjazzfestival.org.
Recently, the New York Young Lords Party came together at Harlem’s landmark Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to recognize the 50th anniversary of their chapter formation July 26, 1969.
Gloria Rodriguez and Alina Serrano opened by remembering the departed Young Lords and the ancestors. There was a video greeting by José Cha-Cha Jiménez, who formed the Young Lords in Chicago on Sept. 23, 1968, as a national civil and human rights movement. It was formed 10 months before its New York chapter and two years after the Black Panthers.
“Young Lords don’t retire, they are forever,” stated Jiménez. Young Lord, educator and historian, poet and lecturer Felipe Luciano discussed the urgency of now and how significant our current struggle is in light of today’s politics. The Black Panther, filmmaker, producer, author (“Panther Baby,” “Algonquin”), and professor at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program Jamal Joseph discussed the common cause of the Black Panthers and Young Lords. He noted that while both organizations had specific goals the fight was the same: from free lunch in schools to free health care for all, community control and police brutality.
The Young Lords grew into a national movement under a leadership that included José Cha-Cha Jiménez, Angela Lind Adorno, Alberto Chavarria, Marta Chavarria, Andrés Núñez, Edwin Diaz, Jose (Cosmo) Torres, Eddie Ramirez, Raul Lugo, Juan Gonzalez, Felipe Luciano, Iris Morales, Judy Cordero, Denise Oliver-Velez, Pablo Yoruba Guzmán, Hilda Ignatin, Maria Romero, Omar Lopez, David Rivera, Tony Baez, Richie Pérez and Juan Fi Ortiz.
While listening to the Young Lords 13 Point Program enthusiastically read by Martha Aguello, Olguie Robles-Toro and Minerva Solla it became more evident that the struggle has been elevated in the last 50 years. This new regime traded in their white robes and hoods for red caps or black suits and red ties.
They are armed and ready to seek out those who speak against the new government—just listen to the daily tweets. The shame and trickery in elections didn’t just begin, remember Al Gore. This is the same government that used the counterintelligence program/COINTELPRO to infiltrate, discredit, imprison or kill Black Panthers, Young Lords, Fred Hampton, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. And remember Attica. With so many dreadful examples how can America be shocked at something that’s been going on all along.
The immigration crisis has turned inhumane, young children, babies separated from their parents, women separated from husbands and men all held in cages, overcrowded camps. Young Black kids in overcrowded juvenile centers, in family/juvenile courts and young Black men and women part of the new corporate profit-making penal system. There is a similarity of Black and Brown people being imprisoned for different reasons, but the same goal from above is intact. Is this a coincidence or conspiracy. It is time for people of color to become Young Lords and Black Panthers: stand together as a united front. It’s time for a change, and crumbs can’t be accepted as a compromise. The struggle continues. All Power to the People! The People shouldn’t be afraid of the government. The government should be afraid of the People.