The annual BRIC Jazz Festival returns live and in-person to the BRIC House (647 Fulton Avenue) in Brooklyn. The three-day marathon celebrating its seventh JazzFest, after being locked out last year due to the pandemic, takes place on October 21, 22 and 23. 

BRIC opens on Oct.21 with trumpeter Adam O’Farrell leading his quartet Stranger Days with saxophonist Xavier Del Castillo, bassist Walter Stinson and his brother drummer Zack O’Farrill. The fiery trumpeter Sean Jones appears with his Quartet. The singer and composer Cecile McLorin Salvant known for turning unfamiliar songs into jazz gems making the connection with vaudeville, blues, and jazz music. Thursday night single-show tickets are sold out. Three-day passes are still available along with single day passes for Friday and Saturday.

On Oct. 22, the JazzFest hosts the uniquely exciting Sun Ra Arkestra which has successfully remained in the limelight since the composer’s death in 1993, under the leadership of the masterful saxophonist Marshall Allen. The avant garde Arkestra is acknowledged as the beginning of the Black Futurism Movement. Samir Langus, born in Morocco, uses traditional instruments such as the lute-like sinter playing in the tradition of the Gnawa masters of Gnawa. The same music often played and celebrated by the legendary pianist and composer Randy Weston along with Gnawa musicians.

Oct. 23 features singer/songwriter Madison McFerrin, as the guest curator at BRIC this year, she brings new faces with an interesting flavor to the lineup. Fred Wesley & The New JBs will be jamming hard in the tradition of his former bandleader James Brown remember “can I take’em to the bridge Fred?” His music celebrates the roots of funk. The New JBs include drummer Bruce Cox, bassist Dwayne Dolphin, guitarist Reggie Ward, eclectic saxophonist Jay Rodriguez, keyboards Rose Ann Dimaianta and all-around jazz trumpeter Freddie Hendrix. 

For a complete listing and passes for the three-day Fest visit the website bric@BRICartsmedia.org or call 718-683-5600. Please note there is required proof of vaccination for entry.

The young Cuban pianist and composer Dayramir Gonzalez whose unabandoned energy keeps him jumping genres from Afro Cuban jazz to classical and his “Boogie down” Bronx funk which he experienced while living in that borough.   

On Oct. 23, at Flushing Town Hall (137-35 Northern Blvd.) in Queens, Gonzalez will perform a special program titled “Havana Today, Afro Cuban Jazz,” paying tribute to legends Chucho Valdés, Chico O’Farrill, and Chick Corea. He will be joined by bassist Dean Torrey, drummer Juan Chiavassa and percussionist Christian Moraga. 

Gonzalez says these three pianists were his biggest influences for arrangements and piano stylings. “Chucho Valdés was there since I was a kid in Cuba, he was my mentor as a bandleader and pianist,” said Gonzalez. “I was influenced by Corea’s electric band when I was in high school and the way he composed music was influential. Chico’s early involvement in Afro Cuban jazz, Cubop and working in New York City was a factor that brought me to New York.” For this concert Gonzalez will be playing his mentors’ music, some of which have become jazz standards and perhaps a tune or two from his new CD. 

The pianist is set for his Nov. 2021 release of “Dayramir González Tribute to Juan Formell & Los Van Van,” celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of the band. Juan Formell & Los Van Van are considered “the Rolling Stones of Cuba.” “This project is a tribute to Juan Formell but it goes far beyond that. It’s a tribute to a global and historical trajectory of Cuban music: from Bach to Ignacio Cervantes, to Chucho Valdés and Irakere, from Duke Ellington and Benny Moré to Juan Formell,” explained Gonzalez during a telephone interview. “Formell is an incredible songwriter whose songs are colorful stories.” 

For tickets call 718-463-700 or visit the website https://www.flushingtownhall.org/dayramir-gonzalez

The COVID-19 pandemic caused some popular jazz clubs around the country to close their doors permanently. As these clubs battle to return and begin to show a profit, a new cabaret club the Chelsea Table and Stage (152 W. 26th Street, inside the Hilton Fashion District Hotel) opened earlier in 2021. It is Broadway’s newest spot for dining and cross-genre music that defy the jazz police. Featuring a wide variety of performances every night from noted Broadway stars, as well as a healthy appetite of jazz on Wednesday nights. One can also enjoy dining on the main level before heading downstairs for the live music. 

The venue’s open space allows a good stage view of performances regardless of seating that is comfortable, no squeezing. There is state-of-the-art sound and lighting, a 10-seat in-theatre bar, lofted VIP mezzanine for private groups, and table seating. The ambience is inviting for a first-date or anything in between. The menu food offers a selection that should appeal to the city’s varied palates. Chef Eric is in the house.

On a recent “Jazz Wednesday” my first visit to the club, the pianist and composer Elio Villafranca and The Jass Syncopators made his debut at the Chelsea Table and Stage. The large ensemble of established musicians opened with Villafranca’s original “Havana Blue Chronicle.” It was an uptempo tune focused on a blaring Afro Cuban sound with heavy drums by Domo Branch and percussionist Miguelo Valdes, the quiet star alto saxophonist/flautist Vincent Herring infused his unique embellishment. “Honey Cone” (in honor of the bees) featured Villafranca crossing lanes as he played classic melodies to straight-ahead jazz always in an Afro Cuban flow, that featured tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens and trumpeter Scott Wendholt. In 2020 Villafranca captured the attention of a much younger audience with his debut children’s book entitled “Who Ate the Pie?”

On Oct. 29, guitarist and vocalist Felicia Collins performs at the Table. Let’s not categorize her as a jazz musician but as an exceptional musician, who works her strings from blues to rock and all about. She was a member of Al Jarreau’s band but best known internationally as a member of the CBS Orchestra on the “Late Show with David Letterman” as part of the World’s Most Dangerous Band with Paul Shaffer.  

Saxophonist/flautist Don Braden Quartet plays on Nov. 11 within the jazz realm he explores the music of Earth, Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder.

For the month of November, theJazz Foundation of America has partnered with Chelsea Table + Stage. TheJFA will host concerts at 7 p.m. everyWednesday.The series will feature a most engrossing lineup of jazz musicians and composers kicking off the month-long residency will be the harpist Brandee Younger Trio (11/3), the composer, saxophonist and arranger Donald Harrison Quartet (11/10), the pianist Cyrus Chestnut Trio (11/17) and Raul Midón, a blind jazz guitarist with a variety of enticing   sounds, making him a captivating solo act. (11/24).

All ticket sales will support JFA artists, hundreds of jazz and blues musicians severely impacted by Hurricane Ida, not only in Louisiana, but also in New York and New Jersey. 

All guests 12 and up are required to be fully vaccinated in order to enter our venue.

For reservations visit the website at (chelseatableandstage.com).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.