The singer/songwriter Eugenie Jones, who doesn’t perform in New York City enough, will return to debut her new two-set CD, “Players,” during a three-day stand in various sections of the city; on April 1 at Pangea (178 2nd Ave.) on Manhattan’s lower eastside; April 2, Harlem’s Cloak Room (126 Hamilton Place, 142nd Street), the cozy spot dates back to when Harlem was better than heaven and cocktail bars like this were dimly light for intimate jazz stylings. On April 3, Jones closes out at noted jazz club, The Jazz Forum (1 Dixon, Tarrytown, N.Y.).
Her repertoire will primarily consist of songs from “Players.” “I’m very tenacious about doing what it takes to achieve an aspiration. In many ways this CD is a continuation of my last two recordings in that it only contains songs that truly resonate with me, namely hard-swinging songs, earthy emotive ballads, and uplifting songs of inspiration. These themes consistently flow through all my recordings.”
For the three-day performances she will be joined by an all-star cast: pianist Jason Yeager, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and percussionist Bobby Sanabria (latter two musicians are also on CD).
This “Players” 15-track double-CD has been an adventurous labor of love that was four years in the making (including through COVID-19 delays). Jones independently produced and recorded on her own Open Mic Records label. She recorded in four cities within the United States—New York City, Dallas, Seattle and Chicago. Her 32 established musicians called on to play in the various cities included NEA Jazz Master Reggie Workman (her mentor and fan); archetypal elder trombonist Julian Priester (who’s played in the bands of Max Roach, Duke Ellington, and Herbie Hancock); drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, trumpeter Marquis Hill, trombonist Jovan Johnson, pianist James Wideman and bassist Stanley Banks. These outstanding players join the singer on her magical tour as they swing standards by Irving Berlin, Billy Strayhorn, George Gershwin, and Nina Simone, and 10 of Jones’ original compositions.
Having resided in Seattle for some time, Jones was born and raised in Morgantown, West Virginia. Her singing career began later in life after the death of her mother in 2008. “At one stage of my grief, I recognized a void, a void I attributed to missing the sound of my mother singing. Seeking solace and a positive way forward, I found myself wondering if I could carry on that part of her.” That speculation led Jones to the Seattle jazz scene and ultimately to the pursuit of something she had never before imagined—a singing career.
“As a lifelong learner in pursuit of being better today than I was yesterday,” she says, “I will always look to answer that internal question of ‘what’s next?’”
For tickets and information, email email@example.com or call 347-733-8326.
On April 7 the New Amsterdam Musical Association (107 W. 130th St.) presents vocalist Keith A. Dames and the Richard Clements Quartet in a birthday tribute to Billie Holiday entitled “Happy Birthday Lady Day: Paying Homage To Billie Holiday,” at 7 p.m.
The pianist Clements is a protégé of the late NEA Jazz Master Barry Harris. His quartet will include the consummate go-to bassist Curtis Lundy, guitarist Daryl Pooser and drummer John Cooksey. Although Clements has played with such notables as Charlie Persip, Clifford Jordan, Abbey Lincoln and Archie Shepp during his stay in Paris, he remains a great but under-rated pianist. Dames, a Billie Holiday aficionado, began singing at The New Amsterdam Musical Association, and progressed to The Apollo Theater, Metropolitan Room, and Club Bonafide.
The show, produced by SeMad Productions, will feature special guest vocalists Steph Walker, Mel Greenwich, and Michael Morgan. All vocalists and instrumentalists are welcome to sit in.
During a time in history when America was committed to segregation and inequality the NAMA was founded in Harlem in 1904. It is the oldest African American musical organization in the United States. Its formation was in response to the American Federation of Musicians Local 310 not accepting Black musicians. The association was booming from 1904 to 1970; it was the only place musicians had to socialize. After the building’s purchase (at its current location) it also became a rooming house for out-of- town Black musicians since they weren’t allowed to rent in downtown hotels. It was a headquarters where they could exchange ideas, make contacts for engagements, and enjoy social events. The Kansas City Musician’s Foundation, originally home to the Black Musicians’ Protective Union Local 627 A.F. of M., is the second oldest Black musicians’ union founded in the 1930s. Like NAMA it is still active at its original address in Kansas City known for its all-night jam sessions.
A $10 suggested donation is requested at the door and $5 donation for students and seniors, cash only. RSVP, masks & temperature checks will be required. Contact NAMA at 212-281-1350, 347-746-9749 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The pianist/composer and NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston kept us close to our ancestors with his long-standing group African Rhythms. In celebration of his birthday and musical contribution, his long-time percussionist Neil Clarke will pay tribute to him at the Iridium (1650 Broadway), on April 7, Neil Clarke Trio Plus: Westonism.
For this unique memorial outing Clarke will be joined by his former band mate bassist Alex Blake, vibraphonist Bryan Carrott and Khuent Rose on steel pan. During the 90-minute set, the band will play Weston’s music from another perspective but with his spirit dancing in the midst of the ancestors.
“I had the pleasure of playing with Randy for many years and the percussionist beat was most important to him, the sound of the African drum, as he noted, was the soul of the community; the melodic beats spread news, celebrated birthdays and weddings,” said Clarke. “Randy was one of the few jazz bands that always included African percussion.” Clarke went on a musical journey around the world studying many forms of drumming from Africa to Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. During his instruction in Africa with the elders Neil was acknowledged with the title of Chief Baba Neil Clarke.
Clarke and his tight knit group were all inspired by Weston and with the addition of the steel pan, the music of the NEA Jazz Master is sure to swing in the heart of the African diaspora.
For tickets visit the website https://bit.ly/cbnciridium2022 or call 212-582-2121.