Dr. Billy Taylor (306264)
Credit: Jazzmobile Archives photos

After missing last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic Harlem’s favorite jazz series returns, Jazzmobile SUMMERFEST celebrating its 57th annual festival, dedicated to co-founder Dr. Billy Taylor in honor of his 100th birthday. This season will also salute the “futuristic galaxy-star interpreter,” poet, composer and musician Sun Ra.

“Many of our audience members have been attending our concerts for all five decades,” said Robin Bell-Stevens, Jazzmobile director and Summerfest executive producer. “They enjoyed our virtual concerts, but have let us know that they are eager to join us in the parks and other outdoor venues. Jazzmobile is thrilled to welcome back artists, audiences and live music on July 7.”

On Wednesdays, Jazzmobile will be in residence at Grant’s Tomb (Riverside Dr. @ W. 122nd St. 7-8:30 p.m.) and on Fridays they “return home” to the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park (5th Ave. at 124th St. 7-8:30 p.m.). Jazzmobile reunites with Co-Op City, Snug Harbor, The Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park and Bryant Park for concerts. This year SUMMERFEST is travelling to Westchester County and two of their main events include “Taylor-Made” a tribute to the music of Dr. Billy Taylor.

The line-up of artists that Jazzmobile is presenting, June through August, include T.K. Blue, Wycliffe Gordon, Winard Harper, Antonio Hart, Sipho Kunene & Woza Masekela, Ray Martinez, Bobby Sanabria, Camille Thurman, Alyson Williams and the Dizzy Gillespie Band. A partial list of upcoming performances will include July 9, at Marcus Garvey Park, the trumpeter and composer Jeremy Pelt (audience will be in for a treat providing Pelt plays tunes from his newly released “Griot: This is Important,” High Note Records). On July 10 vocalist Antoinette Montague performs in Brooklyn (McDonough Street, 500 Block Association). On July 14 vibraphonist Jay Hoggard Quartet plays at Grant’s Tomb, on July 16, The Jazz Power initiative pay tribute to Sun Ra with musician instructors and students at 7 p.m.

Also on July 16 at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park: “Lincoln Center Restart Stages” will present “Taylor Made: A 100th Birthday Tribute to Dr. Billy Taylor,” with pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Chip Jackson, drummer Winard Harper, trumpeter Jon Faddis, saxophonist Antonio Hart, and pianist Aaron Diehl (* Former Billy Taylor Trio band members; also played with Taylor). For a complete SUMMERFEST schedule check the website Jazzmobile.org.

For a complete SUMMERFEST listing visit the website Jazzmobile.org.

During the pandemic it was touch and go for Birdland jazz club but thanks to loyal jazz fans the legendary club located in the heart of Times Square (315 West 44th Street) opened its doors on July 1 to the public for the first time since March 2020. To mark the grand reopening, Birdland is bringing back 1949 prices as a thank you to returning patrons.

The month-long celebration reopening will include Harlem’s own velvet soulful vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Allan Harris performing July 8-10. After witnessing his vocal style performing his tributes to Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine and his Cross That River a tribute to Black cowboys and the country/western genre one realizes Harris isn’t to be categorized. He’s not a jazz singer but more a singer who is contributing to the soul of Black music.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris has remained out front with his weekly live stream concert series “Harlem After Dark, Unplugged.”

“Since this is our first major NYC date in a year, I wanted to pull out all the heavy hitters so I’ve got eight of the finest musicians playing with me, to help introduce all the songs from my newest recording ‘Kates Soulfood,’” stated Harris. His abled band will include pianist Arcoiris Sandoval, bassist Marty Kenney, drummer Norman Edwards, trumpeter Bruce Harris, saxophonist Irwin Hall, percussionist Jhair Sala and Gregoire Maret on harmonica.

Harris’ “Kates Soulfood” is a soulful pot of playing in the streets of Harlem, taking to the streets and shoutin’ out their names (Run Through America), to the spirited warmth of “Wash Away My Sins.” There’s a little touch of Lou Rawls wrapped up in this one.

Harris will perform downstairs at the Birdland Theater 7 p.m. on Thursday and two shows each night on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

On July 15 -16 the trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet makes a rare appearance at Birdland. The family trombonist and record producer has produced over 120 recordings, having toured with Ray Charles and Elvin Jones. The native of New Orleans blends the funky swing of the Crescent City with a twist of jazz and a taste of front line to keep everyone on their toes. The quintet performs at 7 p.m. on July 15 and two shows at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on July 16.

The Orrin Evans Quartet will close out the month July 29-31. After three years with The Bad Plus, the pianist and composer Evans has stepped out on his own. His newest project is “The Magic of Now,” a new quartet album due out later this year with Smoke Sessions Records. Evans’ hard-hitting group features: alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins (noted as a rising star his debut album “Omega” was released last year on Blue Note), and drummer Bill Stewart. With Evans at the helm accompanied by his group of intuitive bold players everything is possible. Two shows each night on Friday and Saturday. There is a $30 cover charge.

Every Sunday in July (11, 18, 25) at 7 p.m. Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble will perform featuring pianist, composer and educator O’Farrill-leads an Octet version of the GRAMMY award winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO), who represent the drama and virtuosity of big band jazz and the culture of Latin music. The ALJO carries on in the creative interpretation of Tito Puente, Frank “Machito” Grillo, and Chico O’Farrill, as well as the driving force behind new commissions from Latin music’s most talented composers and arrangers.

This series offers Birdland’s all 1949 special pricing which is 
.99 cents advance and $10 at door.

For a complete schedule of shows and for reservations call 212-581-3080 or visit the website birdlandjazz.com.

The venue will adhere to the reopening guidelines as set forth by the City of New York, New York State, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).