Alto saxophonist Darius Jones whose performances and recordings find a way to ignite emotions while bringing awareness to the mind will perform two nights on Oct. 27 and 28, at The Green Wood Cemetery’s Catacombs in Brooklyn. He will be performing pieces from his soon-to be released album, Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation). The performance will draw upon the work of musical icons, including Sun-Ra, Ornette Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, and Georgia Anne Muldrow. “I wanted to capture a moment in time,” said Jones. “To crystalize the beginning of something and the end of something else.” 

Attendees will ride on Green-Wood’s trolley to and from the Main Entrance (25th street and Fifth Avenue) and the Catacombs. There are two 50-minute concerts per evening: 6:30–8:00 p.m. and 8:00–9:30 p.m. Visit the website www.green-wood.com.

On Oct. 30, Rene McLean and Music of the Spirit Band will return to one of New York City’s most historic jazz clubs, Sista’s Place (456 Nostrand Ave.) in Brooklyn. Now in its 26th season. McLean, who like his mentor pianist and composer Randy Weston, brings spirited rhythms of the ancestors to each set with hard swinging riffs reminiscent of his father alto saxophonist Jackie McLean. 

The multi-reed instrumentalist, composer, band leader offers a surprise element when it comes to what instruments he may play. Of course, his alto is always at hand but then again, he may go to his tenor or soprano saxophones, or flute and perhaps the indigenous instruments the ney (middle Eastern flute) or shakuhachi (Japanese flute). 

The Spirit Band includes percussionist Baba Neil Clarke, the explosive South African trumpeter Lesedi Ntsane, pianist Humbert Eaves III, bassist Nat Reeves, drummer Will Calhoun, and spoken word artist Kewulay Kamara.

“I am looking forward to playing at Sista’s. It’s my favorite place: they understand the music and culture and they give Big love,” said McLean. 

There will be two sets at 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Admission is $20 in advance. For reservations call 718-398-1766.

Two sets, 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., $20 in advance, Call (718) 398-1766. 

On October 31, at Mt. Olive Baptist Church (201 Malcolm X Blvd., 120th Street), at 3 p.m. Thure trombonist, composer, arranger and community activist Craig Harris will perform with BREATHE, a 12-piece string ensemble and his trombone. There is a message in their music and an urgency to listen and activate your action chord. “BREATHE is a sonic statement in response to the long term and current injustices inflicted upon African American people. BREATHE is offered to support the community in staying resilient and persistent in fighting for justice.”  Free admission with Eventbrite invitation. This is the link for tickets. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breathe-were-still-stand-strong-tickets-196521720757 . NY State CDC guidelines will be observed.

On November 2, the legendary innovative alto saxophonist and composer Lou Donaldson, fondly known as “Sweet Lou” Or “Papa Lou” will celebrate his 95th birthday at Dizzy’s jazz club (Jazz at Lincoln Center 60th Street and Broadway). He is known for his blues approach with a kick of funk. His nickname “Sweet Lou,” is because he plays those ballads oh, so sweet someone in the audience yelled out dam “Sweet Lou.” Without hesitation he says, alto saxophonist Charlie Parker was his “greatest influence.”   

Donaldson, a native of Badin, North Carolina, attended North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, where he was a member of the band but his main interest was baseball. He was a star on the A&T team with hopes of playing in the big leagues until an injury put him in the bleachers. During his long association with Blue Note Records, the NEA Jazz Master recorded his biggest hit “Alligator Boogaloo (his good friend and Hammond B-3 organist Dr. Lonnie Smith also performed on the album), the title track from the (1967) album an anthem for jazzheads and R&B lovers. He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2012. 

The NEA Jazz Master’s performance includes a few jokes, “no rock and roll, no fusion, no Kenny G just straight-ahead jazz,” said in his distinctive high-pitched voice, along with a few belted out blues tunes with humorous lyrics. Sweet Lou has been a mentor to six generations of musicians and the numbers keep rising. For reservations visit the website jazz.org/dizzys

Recently, the pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill returned to midtown Manhattan’s Birdland jazz club after a forced 11-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This return engagement wasn’t related to his long running weekly Sunday evening residency with his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, it was to introduce the audience to his just released album “dreaming in lions….” (Blue Note Records). It is composed in 13 movements and features The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble, a 10-piece scaled down version of his renowned Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.
The album encompasses two inspired multi-movement suites that O’Farrill conceived in collaboration with the Cuban Malpaso Dance Company: “Despedida,” a meditation on farewells, and “Dreaming in Lions,” inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s novella “The Old Man and the Sea.” “Hemingway’s book was a great inspiration in my composing the music for Dreaming in Lions,” said O’Farrill. “The old man felt alienated at the end of his life, he had lots of prowess but felt lost. He wrote the book off the coast of Cuba and experienced the shores of Africa.” As I recall the book the old man was early in life a strong proud fisherman, but time had become his enemy. “I want my music to evoke memories, to bring back sights and sounds and affect people’s lives,” added the composer. 

Two inspired multi-movement suites O’Farrill conceived in collaboration with “Despedida,” a meditation on farewells, and goodbyes in five movements. “Del Mar” is mellow, “Intruso” picks up the pace with a swinging clarinet, trumpet blaring, percussions leaping and piano hittin, what a tremendous hip melodic rhythmic flow it’s all there the brass section gives it a big band sound in spurts. “Your Beauty Cocoon is My Confusion,” flute low key, trombone smooth then in comes dancing Latin beat, the sounds, the rhythms are layered in a beautiful concerto, moves like a New York salsa Hotel Diplomat dancefest but no sweat, not rushed, a mix of rhythms dance worthy.

“I am playing both piano and keyboards on this project. The keyboards allow me to create different textures and change colors which is very important,” explains O’Farrill. He combines the music traditions of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, and the African diaspora, leading some to describe his music as “Pan Latin.” He responds, “I have always been a firm believer, wherever enslaved people were, they brought along magic, it was bigger than hatred and that music continues to shape our lives. As Cornel West stated, enslaved people gave us love and culture.” The pianist has worked with the Malpaso Dance Company in the past and is friends with the Fernado Saez, executive director and dancer and co-founder Daileidys Carrazana. “Their dancing is very bluesy incorporating ballet, modern dance and they know all the Afro Cuban dances, as well,” noted O’Farrill.

After years of recording some extremely important and memorable albums, the pianist releases this debut album on the legendary Blue Note Records label. “It’s a huge honor to be a part of this incredible record label, it shaped my musical life with my heroes like Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter.” He adds, “It is deeply meaningful to have my wife and two sons perform with me on this debut, this is a great moment to share with them.”

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