The Harlem Jazz Boxx, presenting the most adventurous jazz series in Harlem, continues with its Sept. 3, 10, 17, and 24 lineup featuring Craig Harris and Harlem Nightsongs Big Band. Sets are Tuesday afternoons, noon–12:45 p.m. with second sets from 1-1:45 p.m. Admission is $15.
The trombonist, composer, and bandleader Harris has always been a jazz warrior forging his own path. Whether its his latest two-CD set “Brown Butterfly” (Afro Future Concept, 2019) that swings with the outrageous sounds of motion of Muhammed Ali, to The Tailgaters Tails, to his funk of it all Nation of Imagination which weaves its way through jazz and the soul of Black music, it is clearly a unique creation. All concerts held at Greater Calvary Baptist Church, 43-55 West 124th Street.
Sept. 20 (Friday evening) will feature William Parker and the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. Parker is a bassist, composer, writer, poet and educator from New York City, whose music is an exciting exploratory expedition. Parker’s current bands include; In Order to Survive, Raining on the Moon, Stan’s Hat Flapping in the Wind, and the Cosmic Mountain Quartet with Hamid Drake, Kidd Jordan and Cooper-Moore. Unfortunately for us he seldom plays in Harlem, or uptown period, so it becomes a matter of obligation to attend. Plus, every time Parker plays it becomes another rare moment in jazz. Two sets at: 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Admission is $20.
On Sept. 10, the singer/songwriter Michelle Coltrane makes her debut at Manhattan’s Jazz Standard (116 East 27th Street). “I have always loved singing and I feel songwriting is the strongest part of myself,” said Coltrane. “I am really looking forward to this upcoming date in New York. I will also be using different musicians so it will be very exciting.” Accompanying her on the bandstand will be trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, pianist Uri Caine, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and drummer Gerry Gibbs.
Her repertoire will include songs from her recent CD Awakening (BlueJazz, 2017). One of her favorite tunes from the CD is “Moments Notice.” “My stepfather composed the song and I added the lyrics. It is up-tempo using his solos,” said Coltrane talking to me by phone from Greensboro, North Carolina where she was performing at the John Coltrane Festival. “I am also including ‘Tin Man’ by the pop group America which is relative to my time.”
Coltrane says although her parents, mother Alice Coltrane and step-father John encouraged her and Ravi to play instruments, she became interested in singing early on. “Although I have the Coltrane name it was about me and lots of practice and preparation,” said Coltrane. “The recording ‘Awakening’ refers to my having to wake up and get busy to do something to fulfill my dream of being a singer after being [in] a long hiatus of having a family.” She remembers the pianist and composer Geri Allen saying to her, “You want to enjoy this music and be a part of it like the rest of us.”
Coltrane will perform two sets at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. For reservations, call 212-576-2232.
On Sept. 12-14 the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis kicks off the opening weekend at the Rose Theater (60th Street and Broadway) with The South African Songbook: Celebrating 25 Years of Democracy, a musical celebration that documents a very crucial time in world history which was also a direct response from the activism of Blacks in the United States.
A diverse group of top South African musicians will join the orchestra to perform essential South African music, with each song chosen by a guest performer and newly arranged for the show by the JLCO.
Special guests will include
three New York-based South African vocalists—Nonhlanhla Kheswa, Melanie Scholtz, and Jazz at Lincoln Center fan-favorite Vuyo Sotashe—and five top instrumentalists from South Africa: trumpeter Feya Faku, saxophonist McCoy Mrubata, pianist Nduduzo Makhathini, vocalist and pianist Thandi Ntuli, and indigenous African classical multi-instrumentalist Tlokwe Sehume on vocals, guitar and percussion.
South Africa has long been a vibrant and unique jazz hub that was originally jump started by the sounds and styles of Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim, Brenda Fassie and Solomon Linda. Most of the guests featured are extending their predecessors sound of jazz as the country continues to redefine itself anew.
There will be a free pre-concert discussion about the music and artists at 7 p.m. For tickets and reservations visit the website jazz.org.
On Sept. 12-15 the Woodlawn Conservancy, in conjunction with the Celia Cruz Estate and Celia Cruz Legacy Project, will host the “Celia Cruz, the Queen of Salsa exhibit” featuring costumes, wigs, stage hats, shoes, personal photographs and a documentary video which tells the story of the “Queen of Salsa.”
The Celia Cruz & Pedro Knight mausoleum will be open for viewing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the Woodlawn Conservancy Trolley will escort passengers to and from the exhibit to the mausoleum. The exhibition and concert are are free, but registration is required at www.WoodlawnEvents.org.
On Sept. 15, the Cruz celebration continues with the “Celia Cruz, the Queen of Salsa, Concert,” the rain-or-shine outdoor concert (3 p.m.–5 p.m.) will feature the music of Celia Cruz and other Latin American artists. Cruz was the most popular Latina artist of the 20th century. She was renowned internationally as the “Queen of Salsa,” as well as the “Queen of Latin Music.” If you had to compare her musicianship to any other woman it would have to be Tina Turner, their showmanship, stamina and incredible wardrobe were undeniable. Sitting down at either of their concerts was not an option they were far too electrifying for just viewing—dancing was a must. Cruz, a Cuban native, died July 16, 2003, at the age of 77, in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Please bring your own lawn chair and/or blanket to sit upon. Chairs will not be provided and plan to bring a picnic-style meal, as there will be no food or beverages available for purchase on-site. The cemetery is located in the East Bronx.
For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-920-1470.