Ironically, New York City jazz fans have to live with not being able to see the alto saxophonist, composer Donald Harrison Jr. on a regular basis. But one thing is for sure when he does hit the big apple his performances are always an exciting journey, regardless of where it leads, it swings eternal.
On Aug. 19 – 21 Birdland jazz club presents Charlie Parker Centennial + 1 “Bird 101” Celebration. Harrison will lead his quartet through a program of Bird inspired material (7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.). This celebration is one year late, due to the NYC live music COVID-19 lockdown.
As the Big Chief of the Congo Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group Harrison has never been one to be categorized in a specific box which is almost impossible as a native of New Orleans. The music of the “Crescent City” has always been a myriad mix of styles and cultures. Dating back to its African roots in Congo Square in 1835 to European brass bands, the Second-Line and the influential pioneering music of “city sons” such as Buddy Bolton, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet and Jelly Roll Morton laid the groundwork for the New Orleans musical art forms.
As the saxophonist noted he will play lots of “Bird” and may include some of his own compositions. As the creator of “Nouveau Swing,” a blend of jazz with R&B, hip hop, rock, and soul, one can be sure “Bird’s” music will have a different tang. His quartet will include pianist Dan Kaufman, bassist Nori Naraoka and drummer Joe Dyson.
Harrison’s advocacy and contributions to jazz over the years has earned him the honor of being the recipient of the 2022 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy, the other honorees are Stanley Clarke, Billy Hart and Cassandra Wilson. In addition to receiving a $25,000 award, the recipients will be honored in a concert on March 31, 2022, held in collaboration with and produced by SFJAZZ.
Harrison played with jazz legends Roy Haynes, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (boot camp for young musicians of that era), Eddie Palmieri, Dr. John, Lena Horne, Miles Davis, and Guru’s Jazzmatazz before creating his own modern jazz take on the New Orleans Second-Line tradition, at the age of 19. He introduced his composition New York Second-Line to the jazz world in 1979. He has performed with over 200 jazz masters and created three influential styles of jazz.
For reservations call 212-581-3080. Birdland is a fully vaccinated venue as of Aug. 9th. All PATRONS must bring/ show proof of vaccine or verified medical exemption to enter. Located at 315 West 44th Street midtown Manhattan.
James Brown was the hardest working man in show business, but Rome Neal has to be the most persevering man in jazz and beyond. Neal wears hats as an actor, director, producer, jazz singer, jazz promoter and multi-AUDELCO winner. He is the recipient of the City Arts Corps grant.
On Aug. 22, Neal will celebrate his 18th Anniversary of Banana Puddin’ Jazz at the culturally historic Nuyorican Poet’s Café (236 East 3rd Street, Manhattan), at 6 p.m.
“It all started at the Nuyorican Café so we have come full-circle,” said Neal. The celebration will be co-chaired by multi-EMMY award winner Ron Cephas Jones and TONY/EMMY award winner LaChanze and hosted by Neal. Musical guests will include John di Martino, J.F. Seary, Yoshi Waki, Lonnie Plaxico, Nick Scheuble, Patience Higgins, Frank Senior, Andre Chez Lewis, Leonieke Scheuble, and Mimi Block. Video clips from past celebrations will also be shown. Past co-chairs have included multi-Grammy winner Dee Dee Bridgewater and actor Ethan Hawke. There will be a presentation of Neal’s Shakere Award given to those who carry on the tradition of jazz from their various platforms including the stage and activism.
For this performance at the Nuyorican…vaccinated or not ALL must show proof of NEGATIVE COVID TEST within 48 hours of the event to enter… limited seating!
RSVP required: firstname.lastname@example.org
On a hot day in August 1958, a snazzy dressed Thelonious Monk was leaving his apartment for a photo shoot in Harlem but before the cab could get around the corner, he directed the driver to return home so he could change his sports jacket and get another pair of shades. Fortunately, he wasn’t late and ended up standing on the first row next to his good friend and fellow-pianist Mary Lou Williams. That photograph “Harlem 1958” known as “A Great Day in Harlem” became the most iconic photo in jazz history and probably the most purchased.
The photograph conceptualized and shot by budding photographer Arthur Kanofsky “Art Kane” included coordinating 57 of America’s most incredible jazz musicians that included three women; Mary McPartland and Mary Sullivan, along with Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver and Lester Young. They all assembled at the ungodly musicians’ hour of 10 am at 7 East 126th street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues. The photograph was published in Esquire magazine in the January 1959 issue. In 2018, Wall of Sound published “A Great Day In Harlem––Art Kane 1958” a documentary directed by Jean Bach, co-produced by Matthew Seig and edited by Susan Peehl. A visual history of the iconic shoot was also edited by Jonathan Kane and Guido Harari.
August 12th marked the 63rd anniversary of Kane’s famous photograph “Harlem 1958.” In celebration of the photo’s unique gathering the Uptown Grand Central and Jazzmobile announced the Aug. 12, 2021 commemorative street co-naming of East 126th street between 5th and Madison Avenues as ‘Art Kane Harlem 1958 Place.’
“Uptown is proud to honor the deep-rooted history of jazz here in Harlem, along with the visionary man who conceived and took this iconic photo more than 60 years ago,” shared Diane Collier, chair of Uptown Grand Central. “Along with the Harlem/East Harlem residents, we are pleased to memorialize this wonderful event with a street sign on the block where it all happened.”
Jonathan Kane, son of Art Kane and author of the book “Art Kane: Harlem 1958,” delivered remarks. Prepared remarks by saxophonists Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins, the last remaining living subjects of the photograph were also shared.