Harlem Stage Announces 2014 Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival Lineup; Kicks Off 5/4
When the Harlem Renaissance was in vogue at the dawn of the 20th Century, the jazz clubs around Jungle Alley, between Lenox and Seventh Avenue - The Savoy Ballroom, Small's Paradise, Minton's Playhouse, Clark Monroe's Uptown House, The Ubangi Club, Park Palace, Connie's Inn, and others - were the place to be. These immortal nightclubs, concert halls, cabarets, speakeasies and ballrooms, will be channeled and showcased May 4 - 10 at the Fourth Annual Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival. A week-long, multi-venue partnership with the Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage and Jazzmobile, in collaboration with Columbia University, the festival revives the spirits and sounds of Harlem's historic jazz venues with swinging live performances, jam sessions, informative panel discussions, dance parties, films and more.
Highlights of the 2014 Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival include:
- The Apollo Theater presents Arturo O'Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and the world premiere of the Afro Latin Jazz Suite commissioned by the Apollo Theater. O'Farrill recasts his father, Chico O'Farrill's, Afro Cuban Jazz Suite with a new generation of jazz masters, marking the 65th anniversary of this watershed work. Rounding out this red-hot program is a new composition by Arturo O'Farrill honoring Randy Weston and a selection of ALJO repertory works showcasing the 18-member orchestra's virtuosity and breadth. The evening also includes special guests, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Freddy "Huevito" Lobatón, Café and Randy Weston with Billy Harper and Lewis Nash. (May 10)
- Harlem Stage presents The Vijay Iyer Trio featuring Stephen Crump and Marcus Gilmore paying homage to the Capitol Palace, in collaboration with the Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert Series. Labeled "brilliantly eclectic" by The New Yorker, and voted "Jazz Group of the Year" in 2012 by Downbeat magazine, the extravagantly talented trio has reached the pinnacle of the jazz world. The combo's inventive performance features complex, rhythmically exciting compositions alongside reinvented classics, and immerses the audience in harmonic, thundering melodies. (May 9)
- Jazzmobile presents a four-night tribute to Minton's Playhouse with Legends on the Bandstand: Late Night Jams at the recently-opened Minton's and Ginny's Supper Club at Red Rooster featuring Antonio Hart, Christian Sands, TS Monk, and Charenee Wade. (May 5-7, 9)
- The Apollo Theater gets into the groove with Showman's Jazz Club for five nights to present Nathan Lucas, Kimberly Thompson, Jazmyn, Fred McFarlane, and Claudia Hayden. (May 6-10)
- Harlem Stage presents one of jazz's most unique talents, Christian aTunde Adjuah Double Quartet's "Stretch Music." The performance introduces three completely new brass instruments, and extends the rhythmic, melodic and harmonic conventions of jazz to encompass a multitude of musical forms, languages and cultures. (May 8)
- Salute the Home of the Happy Feet when Jazzmobile presents Hopping at the Savoy Dance Party: Celebrating Frankie Manning's 100th Birthday with the Harlem Renaissance Band at MIST Harlem. (May 10)
Columbia University again collaborates with the three partners to bring humanities programming to the Festival. Tipping a hat to Gladys Bentley's gender bending at The Ubangi Club, Connie's Inn and the Clam House, one panel on "Gender and Identity in Jazz Music" will focus on jazz and its impact on these issues. Next panel, "The Key to the Language: James Baldwin and His Muse" will present Columbia faculty in a conversation on how the music of Harlem shaped Baldwin's writing, as part of the Year of James Baldwin celebration. Columbia University School of the Arts is also collaborating with Abyssinian Baptist Church in presenting Jazz Vespers. Abyssinian, 'the church of jazz musicians," will feature Brianna Thomas, showcasing the spiritual dimensions of jazz.
Celebrating the rich legacy of jazz in the uptown community while bringing both established and emerging artists to famed Harlem venues, the Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival is designed to draw a diverse audience of neighborhood residents, New Yorkers and tourists. All events are free or $10 and up, and concerts are scheduled to allow people the option of attending several events each day, continuing the tradition of non-stop jazz throughout Harlem.
"We will pay tribute to the Apollo's rich history in Latin Jazz by celebrating this complex and exciting music style," says Mikki Shepard, Executive Producer for the Apollo Theater. "The Apollo's rich legacy goes back to 1934 when Luis Russell performed, and includes Latin bands programmed as specialty acts within the variety show format and individual performers featured as guest soloists with jazz groups. Performances at the Apollo frequently paired African American and Latin music traditions in innovative ways and fostered new experimentation and stylistic mixing. In 1947, central figures in these newer trends were master Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo who worked with Dizzy Gillespie. Cuban bandleader Frank "Machito" Grillo and his Afro-Cubans were central to creating the collaborative space between Latino and black musicians. Not to mention the incomparable Celia Cruz's debut at the Apollo over 50 years ago and Tito Puente's first appearance at the Apollo in 1953."
"The Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival provides a vital outlet for building on the legacy and tradition of the art form that Harlem is most known for," said Harlem Stage Executive Director Pat Cruz. "This year's slate of offerings is especially exciting, allowing the audiences to see and engage with established and emerging musicians in a variety of styles. Having Vijay Iyer in our lineup, for a free concert no less, is a truly special event. Collectively, Vijay Iyer, Christian aTunde Adjuah and Aruán Ortiz prove that jazz has no boundaries. We are very happy to be reunited in our work with the Apollo, Jazzmobile and Columbia University. The Festival has been, no doubt, a boon to the contemporary jazz scene in New York City."
"In July of 2015, we celebrate 50 years of Dr. Billy Taylor's dream, Jazzmobile. In keeping with his community spirit, we are pleased to continue the partnership with these other important Harlem institutions," said Robin Bell-Stevens, Director of Jazzmobile. "It is a pleasure and a challenge to step out of the City parks and streets of Harlem to bring the mood, music and memory of Minton's Playhouse and the Savoy Ballroom inside to the elegant new Minton's, Ginny's Supper Club at the Red Rooster, MIST Harlem and Riverside Theatre. Our Legends on the Bandstand, Late Night Jam Sessions, dance party, discussions and other educational events, with special programs for children and seniors, are a perfect extension and celebration of Harlem's great musical legacy."
Tickets for many of the Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival events are available now. For tickets and more information on the Festival and its partners, visit the Harlem Jazz Shrines' website at www.harlemjazzshrines.org.
About the Apollo Theater: The Apollo Theater is one of Harlem's, New York City's, and America's most iconic and enduring cultural institutions. Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests 80 years ago in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in cultivating artists and in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Throughout its history, the Apollo has been a champion of jazz and jazz musicians. From the historic night in 1934 when Ella Fitzgerald first won Amateur Night, to performances by Benny Carter, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway, the list of jazz greats who played the Apollo goes on and on. The Apollo Theater's new vision builds on its legacy and supports both artists and curators, who are African American and culturally diverse and emerging, mid-career and established in their career. The Apollo will continue to present historically relevant work and increase our presentations of more forward looking, contemporary work. For more information, visit www.apollotheater.org.
About Harlem Stage: For more than 30 years Harlem Stage has been one of the nation's leading arts organizations, achieving this distinction through the commissioning, presenting, and now producing of challenging, relevant and topical performances by artists of color, and by bringing them to socially conscious audiences in the communities it serves. Harlem Stage has a long-standing tradition of supporting such artists from around the corner and across the globe, including legends such as Harry Belafonte, Max Roach, Sekou Sundiata, Abbey Lincoln, Sonia Sanchez, Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente, as well as contemporary artists like Bill T. Jones, Vijay Iyer, Nona Hendryx, Mike Ladd, Tania León, Carl Hancock Rux, Nora Chipaumire and Jason Moran. Its education programs each year provide thousands of New York City children with access to a world of diverse cultures through the performing arts. In 2006, Harlem Stage opened the landmarked, award-winning Harlem Stage Gatehouse in an abandoned space that was once the source of fresh water flowing to New York City, and is now a vital source of creativity, ideas and culture. For more information, visit www.harlemstage.org.
About Jazzmobile: July 2014 - December 2015 Jazzmobile, Inc., America's oldest not-for-profit arts organization created just for jazz, will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Founded in 1964 by NEA Jazz Master Dr. Billy Taylor and Daphne Arnstein, Jazzmobile's mission is to present, preserve, promote, and propagate Jazz - "America's classical music." Jazzmobile pioneered the concept of Jazz lecture-demonstrations and mobile Jazz performances that are presented across New York City, and continues to serve as a model for other Jazz music presentation-focused organizations around the country. Jazzmobile reaches approximately 50,000 people in New York City each year, consisting of multi-ethnic audiences of all ages and socio-economic levels, including the disabled. To reach the largest possible audience, all of Jazzmobile's programming is presented at no or low cost to participants. Other outreach includes instructional workshops and panels and symposia that provide a historical framework for Jazz and its significance to American culture. For more information, visit www.jazzmobile.org.