But after sheltering in place for over a year, jazz fans don’t mind traveling at least a few hours to see the live happenings. While some may not be ready to check out those exciting international jazz festivals in Europe or South Africa, the Washington, D.C. jazz festival is only three hours away by Amtrak.
This year the DC Jazz Fest takes place during Labor Day weekend Sept. 1-5 at The Wharf, a waterfront destination with restaurants, shops, and stunning views. In this new normal pandemic world the festival is a hybrid conjunction of in-person up close and live-streamed performances. Festival experiences will include “Meet the Artist” conversations, and the DCJazzPrix international jazz band competition.
The largest festival in the nation’s capital will feature a robust line-up of performers including violinist Regina Carter, John Scofield, Maria Schneider Orchestra, the ever-rising saxophonist/composer Lakecia Benjamin Presents: “Pursuance,” The Spanish Harlem Orchestra, D-Nice, The String Queens, Orrin Evans Presents “Terreno Comum,” and Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez among others.
The festival will pay homage to the late D.C. and global jazz composer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew White. The concert will take place at the Westminster Presbyterian Church Sept. 2 and feature the Grammy-nominated pianist and Blackbyrds founding member Kevin Toney, bassist Steve Novosel, drummer Keith Killgo, saxophonist Antonio Parker, and special guest saxophonist Marcus Strickland.
White is most known for his virtuosic ability on the alto saxophone and his extensive published transcriptions of John Coltrane’s solos. He later founded Andrew’s Musical Enterprises Incorporated record label and publishing house. Over a 49-year period, White released over 40 of his own original works on the label, many of them with Kevin Toney, Keith Killgo, and Steve Novosel as his rhythm section. Despite his passing in November of last year, White’s importance to D.C. as a jazz city remains vivid.
For a complete listing of the festival and tickets, visit the website dcjazzfest.org.
Since the late writer, poet, and Rutgers University professor Miguel Algarín founded the Nuyorican Poets Café in 1973 it became an exploratory workshop and forum for Puerto Ricans and people of color in poetry, music, jazz, video, visual arts, comedy and theater. Over the years it has never been duplicated and is now a mecca to showcase creative works.
On Sept. 11 (at 3 p.m.), the Nuyorican Poets Cafe will celebrate the founder’s 80th birthday through his poetry, “In the Words of Miguel Algarin.” Curated and hosted by Rome Neal, this event will bring together fellow poets, friends and family members who will read Algarin’s poems from several of his poetry books such as “Mongo Affair,” “On Call,” “Body Bee Calling from the 21st Century,” in front of the Café (236 East 3rd Street on Manhattan’s lower eastside).
Some of the participants are: Dael Orlandersmith, Carl Hancock Rux, Vinie Burrows, Bob Holman, Lois Elaine Griffith, Mariposa, Nancy Mercado, Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Judge John Howard Algarin, Carmen Algarin, Dr. Helena D. Lewis, Willie Martinez, and Chembo Corniel.
This is an outdoor free event. RSVP is required ONLY for the live streaming link of the event. For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flushing Town Hall is known for all genres of music but on Sept. 12 (1 p.m.) they will take the world music route as they present their Common Ground: Mini-Global Mashup #1 featuring Haiti Meets Middle East both in person and virtual.
Common Ground features artists seemingly different in discipline, practice, or cultural identity who explore global connections, celebrating distinctions that make cultures unique. This new series Common Ground: Mini-Global Mashups are curated by trumpeter and composer Frank London (The Klezmatics) bringing together two amazing global music artists along with accompanists for an afternoon of music, conversation and exploration.
Called “The Joni Mitchell of Haiti,” songstress Emeline Michel is internationally acclaimed for merging native Haitian compas and rara music with jazz, pop, bossa nova, and samba into deeply moving, joyful music. Bandleader and solo artist Dan Nadel’s style combines flamenco, jazz, and Middle Eastern influences. He also collaborates with Gypsy/Neo-Balkan, Macedonian band Tavche Gravche. This is music to peak your interest and tap to another beat. In person tickets are $15, $12 for members. Virtual tickets are $7 and $5 for members. For more information visit the website /www.flushingtownhall.org/common-ground-mini-global-mashup-1. Flushing Town Hall is located at 137-35 Northern Blvd.
Kansas City is so hip and played such a force in jazz there are songs claiming the city’s prominence, but the city’s native son alto saxophonist and composer Charlie Parker has a treasure chest of compositions named in his honor as well. But ever since Johnnie Garry (manager and later Jazzmobile) suggested the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival be held in Harlem, New York City has offered its own annual praises.
This year the CPJF celebrated Parker’s centennial birthday; actually due to the pandemic we missed a year and this was his 101st birthday, but who was counting. The multiple days of music that included co-sponsorships with Jazzmobile and the Jazz Museum in Harlem were outstanding. The Festival’s final two days presented by SummerStage had more alto saxophonists than the entire duration of the annual festival.
Saturday night featured the most beautiful music Parker ever recorded, that being his two recordings for Mercury Records in 1950 “Charlie Parker with Strings,” produced by Norman Grantz. The strings featured the Harlem Symphony Orchestra with music director and founder Amardi Azikiwe and composer, alto saxophonist and NEA Jazz Master 2022 Donald Harrison and his quartet. Their sound was sweet as sweet potato pie, so divine it could have come from heaven, maybe Parker had something to do with that. The Orchestra and Harrison played a string of standards from the two albums including “Laura,” “Just Friends,” “Summertime” and “I’m in the Mood for Love.”
During the opening Harrison boosted his quartet that included the youngest beboppers in jazz (pianist Dan Kaufman, bassist Nori Naraoka and drummer Joe Dyson). His statement was easily confirmed after their first Parker tune “Groovin’ High,” and to prove their musicianship they came back with a blazing Harrison original, “One for Bird.”
The following evening featured the “Four Altos” that included Justin Roberts, Erena Terakubo, Godwin Louis and Sarah Hanahan with pianist Donald Vega, bassist Endea Owens and drummer music director Willie Jones III. The four altos flawlessly played Parker tunes with exciting riffs and stunning musicianship and the rhythm section was no joke.
It was a magical festival; years from now someone may ask, “Hey were you at that Charlie Parker Centennial in Marcus Garvey Park, it was phenomenal.” Every year the festival demonstrates most vividly “Bird Lives” and his tradition is in good hands.