Buster Williams Credit: Courtesy photo

On Aug. 20, the 6th annual Ode to the Black Fiddler String Music Festival returns to the Bronx Brewery (841 E. 135th St., outdoor courtyard) for an all-day event featuring the artistry and versatility of young, professional string musicians of color. This unique festival does not discriminate against genres but offers many of these classically trained string musicians an opportunity to embrace their creativity by expressing their feelings and experiences through whatever music they feel: jazz, hip hop, soul, Latin, and alternative perspectives. 

“This is our first year of starting a three-year residency at the Bronx Brewery which I am very proud and excited about,” said OBF festival founder Iymaani Abdul Hamid. “This year we are introducing a few new musicians to the line-up like Natie, a violinist from Reunion Island (east of the island of Madagascar) and cellist Zachary Brown.”   

In addition, the event showcases DJ sets, local vendors and interactive stations for children and adults. There will also be an experimental musical collaboration with Classique (self-taught violinist, singer/songwriter and 3X winner “Showtime at the Apollo”) and DJ Showoff (Brooklyn-born, music producer).

History tells us violins and banjos were played by Blacks dating back to slavery but it still remains somewhat of a secret; when one scans today’s classical music scene and ventures into the philharmonic symphony orchestra concerts throughout the U.S., black faces are rarely seen performing onstage.

The concept of OBF was born out of a history of unrecognized Black string musicians or “fiddlers” during U.S. slavery—a history not known to most. Festival founder Abdul Hamid, a native of the Bronx, professional violist and music instructor says, “My idea was driven by the current need for diversity and exposure of today’s top string musicians of color to local communities, and to empower the next generation of music makers.”  

To attend, give a donation, or for further information, go to: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/obf2022/664117 or contact Yvette Berry, publicist, at yberry567@gmail.com or call 718.991.7564.

One of New York’s most popular summer jazz festivals “Jazz in the Valley,” isn’t in the hustle bustle siren screaming taxi honking Big Apple, no it takes place in the quiet city of Poughkeepsie, in Waryas Park, a serene river view to keep you mellow as the music seeps into your sound buds, on Aug. 21, 12 noon to 6 p.m.

The day-long festival led by guest curator trombonist and composer Craig Harris will celebrate the legacy, history and the future of jazz and the centennial of bassist/composer/bandleader Charles Mingus (1922-1979) with Harris, NEA Jazz Master bassist Buster Williams (who continues to set the standard for generations to come), violinist and composer Regina Carter, jazz vocalist and intense tenor saxophonist Camille Thurman, plus vocalist Carla Cook, Chicago pianist Michael King and conga player Joaquin Pozo. These are musicians who don’t just swing but are inventing new melodic concepts, in the tradition of Mingus.    

This year’s festival is a return to live audiences after a virtual presentation of the festival during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We pick up where we left off last year, when we presented a triumphant homecoming back to the Valley,” said Greer Smith, festival founder, producer and recipient of the Jazz Journalist Association’s 2021 Jazz Heroes Award. 

Harris, the festival’s guest curator, comes from generations of musicians influenced by Mingus, and like Mingus he continues to be a force in the spectrum of avant-garde and straight-ahead jazz. The trombonist is a creative source who follows his own path, never missing an opportunity to introduce new musical concepts to the forefront whether it’s new melodic concepts or his incredible chord changes. The recipient of the 2022 Jazz Journalist Association’s Jazz Heroes Award, Harris has nine recordings as a leader; his latest CD is “Managing the Mask.” As a Harlem community activist, he curates a weekly jazz series as a collaborator and co-founder of Harlem Jazz Boxx. He composed and performed the score for the Oscar-nominated film “Judas and the Black Messiah.”         

“Mingus has always inspired me as a musician-composer; the sacred space he creates where improvisation and composition intersect is a major influence on my own work,” Harris says. “Mingus also brings the balance of content and concept, which is consciousness. Using music to promote social justice is ingrained in every breath I take, so the triple C factor—Content, Concept and Consciousness—will be highly celebrated in our centennial salute of Charles Mingus. Joining me in this celebration are people who bring these same elements, Content, Concept and Consciousness, to their work.”  

Mingus was one of the most important musicians in 20th-century American music as a virtuoso bass player, pianist, bandleader and prolific composer. This centennial will be a great showcase for the bassist whose works have not been recorded as often as other jazz composers. Mingus was in the forefront of the avant-garde movement while maintaining a deep love affair with classical music, playing the cello throughout his life. If not for the racist social structure he most likely would have become a classical musician. His music was often performed by ballet companies and Alvin Ailey choreographed “The Mingus Dances” during a 1972 collaboration with the Robert Joffrey Ballet Company. He recorded over 100 albums and wrote over 300 compositions. His wife Sue Mingus founded three working repertory bands called the Mingus Dynasty, Mingus Orchestra and the Mingus Big Band, which continue to perform his music.  

For tickets visit the website jazzinthevalley.org, for more information regarding the festival visit info@transartin.org or call 845-384-6350. 

Allan Harris’ honey toned timbre will grasp the attention of all attending Jazzmobile’s Summerfest on Aug. 24, at Grant’s Tomb (122nd Street and Riverside Drive), 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The native born Harlemite has become an international entertainer with fans from here to Italy, Germany, China, Japan and France. Well, one thing for sure we don’t have to worry about him returning since he lives here and his aunt Kate owned Kate’s SoulFood that was right down the block. He named his last album after her and that great food spot. It was one of the best vocal CDs of 2020. He has his own style, a voice that encompasses those feelings that bring up memories long gone, something hip and sweet from yesterday or that person last night. The top and bottom of shout out blues, and soul jazzy rhythms. He has a touch of Arthur Prysock happening up in that timbre. The Allan Harris Quartet will include pianist Arcoiris Sandoval, bassist Marty Kenny, guitarist Alicyn Yaffee, saxophonist Irwin Hall and drummer Norman Edwards.

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