Newark’s major happening The TD James Moody Jazz Festival returns live to New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) with free and ticketed events Nov. 5 – 21, 2021. 

The 10th annual festival kicks off with the Django Festival Allstars offering their interpretations to the music of the legendary Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt whose swinging style became known as “hot jazz.” (8:30 p.m. in the Chase Room)

On Nov. 6, look for the legendary bassist Buster Williams, who has played with everyone from Sarah Vaughan to Dakota Stanton and Hank Jones. The native of Camden will perform at Bethany Baptist Church of Newark as part of the Saturday evening jazz Vesper series at 6 p.m. This concert is free to the public. 

Later the same evening NJPAC will feature the 10-time Grammy award winner singer Chaka Khan. Her repertoire will hopefully include interpretations of a few jazz standards, as well as iconic anthems like “I Feel for You,” “I’m Every Woman” and “Ain’t Nobody.” (8 p.m. Prudential Hall)  

On Nov. 11, NJPAC Jazz Adviser, bassist and composer Christian McBride will present his latest project: “The Movement Revisited,” a full-length work for jazz orchestra, vocalists and orators, celebrating influential leaders of The Civil Rights Movement. The words—and the praises—of Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama will be spoken and sung in his most ambitious project to date. Orators Sonia Sanchez, Willie Perdomo, John Murillo and Dion Graham will accompany the Christian McBride Big Band. The choir from the original recording, Voice of the Flame (VOTF), will also perform.

Performances will include the Last Poets: Abiodun Oyewole, Umar Bin Hassan and Babadon Babatunde, joined by Newark’s Honorable Mayor Ras J. Baraka. The Last Poets’ (1968) words hotter than the sun in the sky dropped sun beams of revolutionary Black consciousness making a path for the emergence of hip hop. Most recently they have collaborated with Kanye West, Common and Nas. (Prudential Hall 7:30 p.m.)

On Nov. 12, “Divine Sassy: Lillias White sings Sarah Vaughan.” The Emmy and Tony award winning singer and actress will lay down the sassiness of Vaughan with her Broadway flair.  (7:30 p.m. Chase Room)

On the same evening Grammy winner trumpeter Chris Botti takes to the stage. Botti has sold over 4 million albums, not an everyday occurrence in the jazz world. (Prudential Hall 8 p.m.)

The outstanding women of jazz will perform Nov. 13 featuring the unique jazz stylings and improvisational prowess of Dianne Reeves and the musicians of Artemis: pianist and music director Renee Rosnes, clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, tenor saxophonist Nicole Glover, bassist Noriko Ueda, and drummer Allison Miller. (Prudential Hall 8 p.m.)

On Nov. 14 it’s time to visit Dorthaan’s Place (NICO kitchen and bar), the popular jazz brunch series curated by Newark’s First Lady of Jazz Dorthaan Kirk. This edition features the piano of Cyrus Chestnut.  

There are two brunch seatings: 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

For complete listings and tickets visit the website njpac.org. All guests age 12+ must be fully vaccinated OR show a negative COVID-19 test at the door.

The November 2021 Residency benefiting the Hurricane Ida Relief Fund presented by the Jazz Foundation of America continues Nov. 10, at Chelsea Table and Stage (152 West 26th Street), featuring 2022 NEA Jazz Master, alto saxophonist and composer Donald Harrison. He will be joined by pianist Dan Kaufman, bassist Nori Naraoka and drummer Brian Richburg. Harrison says he will play a cross of multi-genre music that he terms omni-verse. “Omni verse means the music all comes together,” said the saxophonist. “The music is more connected than we can imagine.” He has a unique way of bringing funk, soul, jazz, the soul of New Orleans and his experiences into a new spectrum. 

He is preparing to release his classical piece “Congo Square” in the near future. It combines multi-verse, New Orleans chants, orchestral movements, and jazz with Afro New Orleans cultural music. “It all comes from my experiences in New Orleans and what my father passed down to me as a Chief,” said Harrison. 

For reservations visit the website chelseatableandstage.com.

The Lower East Side is no place for jazz police, it’s the real hip part of Gotham where the music swings inside out and you listen twice just to make sure you caught all the riffs and melodic harmonies. On Nov. 11-13, The Jazz Libre! Celebration Festival begins at Clemente’s Flamboyan Theater (107 Suffolk Street).

Opening night Nov. 11 kicks off with pianist, composer and bandleader Michele Rosewoman’s curated: “A Function at the Junction; Ancestral Bridge, Musical Streams / Una Función en el Cruce: Puente Ancestral, Corrientes Musicales.” It is a collaborative, multimedia event that will bring together Rosewoman’s New Yor-Uba ensemble, Francisco Mora Catlett’s Afro Horn and Román Díaz’s Rumba Ensemble in live performance with video documentation, a subsequent HotHouseGlobal broadcast and Habana/Harlem panels. 

A recipient of the Southarts Jazz Road Creative Residency grant, Rosewoman says, “With New Yor-Uba, we pay homage to the journey of centuries-old Yoruba traditions from Nigeria through Cuba to present-day New York, reflecting its contemporary manifestations.” (7 p.m. – 11 p.m.)

“This project is an expansion of things that I have done,” stated Rosewoman. “To share the stage and moment with so many friends, artists and associates all coming from the same roots goes beyond me.”

As part of a unique community of musicians here in NYC with ties to both spiritually based Cuban folkloric traditions and contemporary jazz, Rosewoman, Román Díaz and Francisco Mora Catlett share artistic and spiritual intersections. Master folklorist Román Díaz, a member of all three ensembles (leader of one) as well as a former member of Yoruba Andabo (Cuba), has been a featured and foundational member of her New Yor-Uba ensemble since 2008. “This project enables us to share Roman with the Cuban communities he is born of but separated from, as they experience his impact on the jazz community here in the U.S.,” said Rosewoman. “And by ‘taking’ this music to Cuba, we all return to the source & pay homage to the roots of our inspiration, nurturing this junction.” This is through a partnership with HotHouse Global and Arts For Art.

On Dec. 18, the event will be broadcast on Cuban national television (and beyond).

The Jazz Libre! Festival continues Nov. 12 and Nov. 13. Some of the performers include William Parker’s Southern Satellites and Juan Pablo Carletti’s Danza’s Band. 

For a complete schedule and tickets visit the website artsforart.org.

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