Maybe the only thing that really keeps the Upper West Side swinging is the Smoke Jazz & Supper Club (2751 Broadway), which is defined by its regular lineup of noteworthy musicians. On April 4, vocalist and songwriter Cynthia Scott takes to the stage with tenor saxophonist Houston Person, pianist Jeb Patton, bassist Russell Hall, and drummer Willie Jones III.
For three decades, Scott has been telling stories through her mid-range contralto, swinging up-tempo songs that make you move, tap your feet; ballads that touch the heart; and gospel tunes may make you shout. Her soulful roots grew from her native Arkansas home and that rhythmic flow inspired by her father’s Sunday morning preaching. While making her home in Harlem for many years, she has accumulated a host of fans on her tours of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Her soulful timbre was enhanced by her two-year stint as a Raelette with the genius Ray Charles.
Over the years, the great saxophonist Person and Scott have become quite a duo, swinging through ballads, jazz classics, and R&B covers, along with some originals. Still wondering why Person hasn’t made it to NEA Jazz Master status, with more than 75 albums and as a leader from hard bop to soul jazz who has kept audiences on the edge from Harlem to Japan.
The band is made up of all-star bandleaders in their own right. Be prepared for a moving evening. “Most people sense that all is not well in the world we live in, and I’ve put these concerns to music,” said Scott. “My goal at this time is to lift the world with my music.”
For reservations, visit the website smokejazz.com or call 212-864-6662. Two shows, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Christian McBride’s New Jawn engagement, April 4–9 at Dizzy’s jazz club (10 Columbus Avenue; two shows each night, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.), is sure to be a complete sellout. New Jawn is McBride’s other band, collaborating with saxophonist Marcus Strickland, trumpeter Josh Evans, and drummer Nasheet Waits, who are bandleaders and like McBride ooze with soul—that tabasco sauce funk from the streets. The Philly sound that rocked the bassist’s neighborhood as a teenager, where Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff broke out with the Sound of Philadelphia (TSOP), the O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, and the Jones Girls, among others.
His Philadelphia is where Jocko Henderson called home after Baltimore, the pioneer of hip hop, smooth rap with jazz undertones. Where WDAS radio rocked the sound waves with Georgie Woods and Butterball (Joe Tamburo) and the Uptown Theater, where the live music took place. As a point of reference, “jawn” is a Philly term, slang for what is hip—could be a person, place, or thang. You dig.
This engagement will feature tunes from their new album release Prime (Brother Mister) on Mack Records. Eight of the nine album songs are originals written by bandmembers and one was written by Wayne Shorter. The Jawn performance will be loaded with hardcore swing, dips and hips, improvisation jazz and soul—hold on.
For reservations .visit the website jazz.org or call 212-258-9595.
The composer, pianist, arranger, and author Randy Weston would have celebrated his 97th birthday on April 6. In his honor, the celebration will commence on that date at the Central Library, Dweck Center (10 Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn) at 8 p.m.
For this special occasion, a quintet of Weston’s longtime collaborators will come together to play some of his compositions, many of which have become jazz standards. Some of the musicians will include pianist Danny Mixon, bassist Alex Blake, and longtime collaborating Gnawa musicians with Ma’ alem Hassan Ben Jaafer (sinter, tbal and vocals) and Naoffal Aliq (chorus and qraqeb) ,among others.
The birthday celebration is taking place in Weston’s native Brooklyn, where he was raised and graduated from Boys High School. His classmates included Max Roach and Dewey Redman. Weston, an NEA Jaz Master, recorded more than 40 albums as a leader. He was a spiritual improvisationalist whose chords reflected the motherland of Africa. He was a musician, our griot, who kept the music entwined in its ancestral roots. His commentary at every concert elaborated on the cultural history of this music called jazz and its significance in the context of Africa and its American lineage.
For more information. call 718-230-2100 or visit the website bklynlibrary.org.
Before the Jamaican songwriter/singer Jimmy Cliff, born James Chambers, made his starring debut in the breakthrough film “The Harder They Come,” he was already a prominent singer in his homeland of Jamaica, the site of the filming.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film’s premiere in New York City, the Public Theater (425 Lafayette Street) has extended the world premiere of “The Harder They Come,” a musical adaptation of the classic Jamaican film produced and directed by Perry Henzell and co-written with Trevor Rhone, from now through April 9. The musical features a book and additional new songs by Pulitzer Prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks. Tony Taccone directs this new musical, with co-direction by Tony Award-winner Sergio Trujillo and choreography by Edgar Godineaux.
Some cast members of “The Harder They Come” are Natey Jones (Ivan), Jeannette Bayardelle (Daisy), Shawn Bowers (ensemble), J. Bernard Calloway (Preacher), Andrew Clarke (Lyle), Meecah (Elsa), Jacob Ming-Trent (Pedro), Alysha Morgan (ensemble), and Ken Robinson (Hilton). The play features hit songs by Grammy award-winning Cliff that include “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” “Many Rivers to Cross,” and—of course—“The Harder They Come.”
“The Harder They Come” tells the story of Ivan, a young singer who leaves the hills of Jamaica in pursuit of stardom in the fast-paced city of Kingston. He quickly discovers that becoming a recording star is no easy task. The record business in the area is controlled by one avaricious music mogul (Hilton), who doesn’t believe in playing fair. After falling in love and having to support his woman, Ivan takes a job dealing marijuana that eventually lands him entrenched in turbulence that threatens his life and the inter-workings of Jamaican society.
Theater-goers can visit “Wheel and Come Again: The 50th Anniversary Art Exhibition of ‘The Harder They Come’” on the Public Theater’s Levin Mezzanine, an exhibition of art inspired by the original film. The exhibition of more than 50 pieces was originally mounted at Perry Henzell’s Kingston home and studio, where much of the film was shot. To honor the film’s significance and influence on Jamaican culture, select pieces will be on display at the Public Theater for all to visit through the show’s engagement.For tickets, visit the website publictheater.org, or call 212-967-7555.