National Jazz Museum in Harlem February Schedule

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem's February 2010 schedule of events are chock full of choices for all from newcomers to the music to seasoned fans of music.

Three of the brightest emerging stars in jazz will be performing live—pianist Jonathan Batiste in a trio setting for the museum's latest public program, Jazz at the Players; and, on separate evenings, drummer Sunny Jain and bassist Ben Williams at Harlem in the Himalayas. These performances will display three approaches to modern jazz that may portend the future directions of the music!

Todd Bryant Weeks will discuss his work as a writer and author of a well-regarded bio of trumpeter/KC legend Oran "Hot Lips" Page for Jazz for Curious Readers. Veteran trumpeter Lew Soloff is the first guest of the flagship Harlem Speaks series this month, following by Harlem-based dancer and choreographer George Faison.

According to museum board member Dr. Billy Taylor, jazz is America's classical music. So it's no surprise that the jazz idiom touches other art forms such as dance and cinema. This month brings a particular focus on film, as Jazz for Curious Listeners features rarely seen footage and classic instances of Ornette Coleman, Sidney Bechet, Charles Mingus and Billie Holiday. Our monthly Saturday Panel focuses exclusively on the jazz/cinema dynamic. There's also a Special Event in which the Academy Award-nominated documentary, A Great Day in Harlem, will be screened, followed by a discussion with filmmaker Jean Bach.

There's something for everyone, so mark your calendars!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Jazz for Curious Readers
Todd Bryant Weeks
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Writer, educator and jazz historian Todd Bryant Weeks has taught Jazz History and Introduction to Music at Rutgers University-Newark and with the acclaimed Bard Prison Initiative. He has lectured at the Institute of Jazz Studies in Newark, New Jersey and at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, New York. His writing has appeared in The Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Allegro, Uptown Magazine and in liner notes for Rhino/Warner Bros. Weeks also wrote the chapter on jazz in Harlem for the book Forever Harlem: Celebrating America's Most Diverse Community (2007). He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.

But he may become best known for his first book, Luck's In My Corner: The Life and Music of Hot Lips Page, a comprehensive biography of one of the most compelling jazz musicians of the Swing Era, Oran “Hot Lips” Page, perhaps the greatest of the Kansas City trumpeters. Page blew a powerful, growling horn that made him the go-to man on that instrument during Count Basie's earliest days as a leader. Page went on to be a featured soloist with Artie Shaw, a star of New York's 52nd Street, and a pioneer of the burgeoning R&B scene of the 1950s.

Despite his many successes, Page's personal life was fraught with troubles. His father died when his son was eight, and the boy was forced to leave school and go to work to help support his family. Page's second wife, Myrtle, who by all accounts was the love of his life, died suddenly in New York in 1946 at the age of twenty-eight, leaving Hot Lips as the sole parent of their young son, Oran Jr. Throughout the 1940s, he struggled to maintain his audience as the popular style of music changed from Swing to Bebop to Rhythm and Blues. He died suddenly after a mysterious incident in 1954, at age forty-six.

Through interviews, anecdotes and oral histories, author Todd Bryant Weeks pieced together Page's personal story. He contacted dozens of people (many in their eighties and nineties) who knew Page personally, and spent many hours interviewing several of Page's family members, including his son, Oran Page, Jr., who is now a Municipal Judge in Jackson, Mississippi. Weeks was granted access to files, photographs and personal scrapbooks belonging to Page at the Institute of Jazz Studies in Newark, New Jersey. The book includes dozens of unpublished photographs, musical transcriptions and analysis and a complete new discography of Hot Lips Page, who, as a result of Weeks' excellent investigative and journalistic efforts, should no longer be considered unsung.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jazz for Curious Listeners
Jazz on Film: Ornette Coleman/Sidney Bechet
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Bechet was the first great saxophonist in jazz, Coleman a saxophone revolutionary in the second half of the history of jazz. From New Orleans to free jazz stylings, tonight's event covers a full range of the idiom.

Ornette Coleman --  Rarely does one person change the way we listen to music, but such a man is Ornette Coleman. Since the late 1950s, when he burst on the New York jazz scene with his legendary engagement at the Five Spot, Coleman has been teaching the world new ways of listening to music. His revolutionary musical ideas have been controversial, but today his enormous contribution to modern music is recognized throughout the world.

Coleman was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1930 and taught himself to play the saxophone and read music by the age of 14. One year later he formed his own band. Finding a troublesome existence in Fort Worth surrounded by racial segregation and poverty, he took to the road at age 19. During the 1950s while in Los Angeles, Ornette's musical ideas were too controversial to find frequent public performance possibilities. He did, however, find a core of musicians who took to his musical concepts: trumpeters Don Cherry and Bobby Bradford, drummers Ed Blackwell and Billy Higgins, and bassist Charlie Haden.

In 1958, with the release of his debut album Something Else, it was immediately clear that Coleman had ushered in a new era in jazz history. This music, freed from the prevailing conventions of harmony, rhythm, and melody, often called 'free jazz', transformed the art form. Coleman called this concept Harmolodics. From 1959 through the rest of the 60s, Coleman released more than fifteen critically acclaimed albums on the Atlantic and Blue Note labels, most of which are now recognized as jazz classics. He also began writing string quartets, woodwind quintets, and symphonies based on Harmolodic theory.

In the early 1970s, Ornette traveled throughout Morocco and Nigeria playing with local musicians and interpreting the melodic and rhythmic complexities of their music into this Harmolodic approach. In 1975, seeking the fuller sound of an orchestra for his writing, Coleman constructed a new ensemble entitled Prime Time, which included the doubling of guitars, drums, and bass. Combining elements of ethnic and danceable sounds, this approach is now identified with a full genre of music and musicians. In the next decade, more surprises included trend-setting albums such as Song X with guitarist Pat Metheny, and Virgin Beauty featuring Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia.

The 1990s included other large works such as the premier of Architecture in Motion, Ornette's first Harmolodic ballet, as well as work on the soundtracks for the films Naked Lunch and Philadelphia.  With the dawning of the Harmolodic record label under Polygram, Ornette became heavily involved in new recordings including Tone Dialing, Sound Museum, and Colors. In 1997, New York City's Lincoln Center Festival featured the music and the various guises of Ornette over four days, including performances with the New York Philharmonic and Kurt Masur of his symphonic work, Skies of America.

There has been a tremendous outpouring of recognition bestowed upon Coleman for his work, including honorary degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, California Institute of the Arts, and Boston Conservatory, and an honorary doctorate from the New School for Social Research. In 1994, he was a recipient of the distinguished MacArthur Fellowship award, and in 1997, was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2001, Ornette Coleman received the prestigious Praemium Imperiale award from the Japanese government. Ornette won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his 2006 album, "Sound Grammar", the first jazz work to be bestowed with the honor. In 2008, he was inducted into the Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame. The NEJHF honors legendary musicians whose singular dedication and outstanding contribution to this art shaped the landscape of jazz.

Sidney Bechet -- In 1919 Bechet was discovered by Will Marion Cook, who was about to take his large concert band, the Southern Syncopated Orchestra, to Europe. The orchestra played mainly concert music in fixed arrangements with little improvising, but featured Bechet (who could not read music) in blues specialties. In London the Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet heard the band, and in an article that has been widely reprinted referred to Bechet as "an extraordinary clarinet virtuoso" and an "artist of genius."

Bechet first discovered the curved soprano saxophone in Chicago; while in London he purchased a straight model and taught himself to play it. It became his primary instrument for the rest of his life, though he continued to play clarinet frequently. The soprano, although difficult to play in tune, has a powerful, commanding voice, and with it Bechet was able to dominate jazz ensembles.

In 1919 Bechet broke away from the Southern Syncopated Orchestra to work in England and France with a small ragtime band led by Benny Peyton; throughout the 1920s he traveled constantly between Europe and the USA, even touring Russia with a jazz band. Crucially, in 1924, he worked for two or three months in New York with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. In 1923 the band had acquired the trumpeter Bubber Miley, a growl specialist under the influence of King Oliver. Miley had awakened Ellington's musicians to the new jazz music, but the band was in a transitional period, still playing much ordinary jazz-flavored popular music. Bechet had by this time acquired a capacity to swing that was matched only by that of Louis Armstrong, and his example led the band further towards jazz. Not long afterwards Bechet opened his own club, the Club Basha, in Harlem, and engaged Johnny Hodges from Boston to play in his band. Hodges was profoundly influenced by Bechet, and from his commanding position in the Ellington orchestra from 1928 he extended this influence widely and deeply.

In 1924 and 1925 Bechet made a group of recordings with Armstrong which were variously issued under the names Clarence Williams's Blue Five and the Red Onion Jazz Babies. These constitute one of the most important bodies of New Orleans jazz, and were influential with musicians of the time. Through the next few years Bechet continued to wander, traveling in Europe and the USA. In the 1930s, as hot dance music lost its popularity to more sentimental styles, Bechet dropped into obscurity, playing when he could find work. He organized the New Orleans Feetwarmers in 1932 with Tommy Ladnier, but largely owing to the group's musical style it was short-lived, and the following year the two men briefly managed a tailor's shop. However, with the New Orleans revival, from about 1939 Bechet was extolled by critics as one of the greatest jazz pioneers and his fortunes improved. He made several recordings, notably several fine titles with the Big Four and a series with Mezz Mezzrow for King Jazz. In 1949 he returned to Europe for the first time in almost 20 years. He was received there with adulation and reverence, and in 1951 he settled permanently in France, where he lived out his final years as a show business star.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jazz for Curious Listeners

Jazz on Film: Charles Mingus/Billie Holiday
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Hearing is one thing – seeing is another. What better to spend an evening that watching these two iconic figures in all of their originality and genius?

Charles Mingus -- One of the most important figures in twentieth century American music, Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer. Born on a military base in Nogales, Arizona in 1922 and raised in Watts, California, his earliest musical influences came from the church—choir and group singing—and from "hearing Duke Ellington over the radio when I was eight years old." He studied double bass and composition in a formally while absorbing vernacular music from the great jazz masters, first-hand. His early professional experience, in the 40's, found him touring with bands like Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory and Lionel Hampton.

Eventually he settled in New York where he played and recorded with the leading musicians of the 1950's—Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington himself. One of the few bassists to do so, Mingus quickly developed as a leader of musicians. He was also an accomplished pianist who could have made a career playing that instrument. By the mid-50's he had formed his own publishing and recording companies to protect and document his growing repertoire of original music. He also founded the "Jazz Workshop," a group which enabled young composers to have their new works performed in concert and on recordings.

Mingus soon found himself at the forefront of the avant-garde. His recordings bear witness to the extraordinarily creative body of work that followed. They include: Pithecanthropus Erectus, The Clown, Tijuana Moods, Mingus Dynasty, Mingus Ah Um, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Cumbia and Jazz Fusion, Let My Children Hear Music. He recorded over a hundred albums and wrote over three hundred scores.

In 1971 Mingus was awarded the Slee Chair of Music and spent a semester teaching composition at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In the same year his autobiography, Beneath the Underdog, was published by Knopf. In 1972 it appeared in a Bantam paperback and was reissued after his death, in 1980, by Viking/Penguin and again by Pantheon Books, in 1991. In 1972 he also re-signed with Columbia Records. His music was performed frequently by ballet companies, and Alvin Ailey choreographed an hour program called "The Mingus Dances" during a 1972 collaboration with the Robert Joffrey Ballet Company.

From the 1960's until his death in 1979 at age 56, Mingus remained in the forefront of American music. When asked to comment on his accomplishments, Mingus said that his abilities as a bassist were the result of hard work but that his talent for composition came from God.

Billie Holiday -- Billie Holiday, one of the first and greatest of early American jazz singers, was known for her unique and laconic timing, her wistful and brassy vocals, and her troubled personal life. Holiday began singing in Harlem clubs as a teenager, and first recorded (with Benny Goodman) in 1933. She was a sensation at Harlem's famous venue, The Apollo, and sang with the bands of Artie Shaw and Count Basie, among others. Holiday was nicknamed "Lady Day" during this era by saxophonist Lester Young, with whom she often recorded. In the 1940s she began using heroin and opium, and her last years, regretfully, were marked by her decline in health as a result of drink and drugs. Her most famous songs include "God Bless the Child," "Lover Man" and "My Man." She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence in the year 2000.

The films you'll witness tonight display the magic and artistic power of these two masters of jazz. Arrive early to get a good seat!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Harlem Speaks
Lew Soloff, Trumpeter
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

A consummate fixture on the New York jazz scene, Lew Soloff’s career is filled with a rich history of renowned sessions and world-class collaborations. From the time he eased into the east coast world of trend setting musicians in the mid 1960’s, Soloff’s creative ventures have resulted in a respected body of work that places him in a category of true accomplishment and keeps his elegant and lyrical signatures in constant demand. Soloff is known as a virtuoso with tremendous range and superior technical command, yet he exudes a exquisite taste for quietness and melody. Soloff’s expertise includes trumpet, flugelhorn, harmon mute, plunger mute and he is particularly recognized for his work on piccolo trumpet.

As a leader, Soloff puts his energy into some special projects including The Lew Soloff Quartet and Quintet. Lew Soloff Presents Sunday Jazz At Rhone was a weekly series he started for New York’s trendy lower west side lounge Rhone. The Sunday program included his own groups and surprise special guests. The artist has 8 solo recordings to his credit. "With A Song In My Heart, produced by Todd Barkan and Makoto Kimata, is probably my favorite personal project to date," comments Soloff. “We chose some wonderful songs for this CD and I was able to weave a tranquil spirit throughout the sessions.  My goal was to play the songs simply and beautifully.”  JazzTimes wrote about the release (Sept. 1999): “If this gem by Soloff, a musician at the peak of his maturity and expressiveness, is not one of the best records of the year, we have a surprising few months in store.”

His longtime collaboration with the late Gil Evans resulted in a new relationship with the Bohuslän Big Band in Sweden. The orchestra invited Soloff to perform George Gershwin’s Porgy And Bess, originally arranged by Evans for one of Soloff’s important influences, Miles Davis.  The suite was recorded and filmed live at The Göteborg Concerthouse in 2002. Besides his association with Gil Evans, Soloff considers his work with Ornette Coleman to be particularly pivotal.  In addition to being a featured trumpet soloist on several occasions with Coleman, he was also asked to perform with Coleman and The Kronos Quartet on a commission for trumpet and strings. Soloff was also the lead trumpeter of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band under the direction of Jon Faddis during its entire tenure and spent six years as first trumpet in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

Born in Brooklyn, on February 20, 1944, Soloff was raised in Lakewood, New Jersey and started studying piano at an early age. He took up the trumpet when he was 10 and his interest in the instrument surged, thanks to the record collections of his grandfather and uncle. Exposed to artists such as Roy Eldridge and Louis Armstrong as a youngster, Soloff recalls, “there was a scale I remember from Armstrong’s recording ‘I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music.’  He played this run with such finesse and beauty, without any grandstanding–I wanted to play like that.”  Soloff spent several years at Juilliard Preparatory until he entered the Eastman School of Music in 1961. Already a professional musician, he had spent his summers as a teenager playing hotels and country clubs in the Borscht Belt (the Catskill Mountains of New York).  After graduating from Eastman (where he found himself in practice bands with fellow students such as Chuck Mangione), he spent a year in graduate school at Julliard. It was the mid-1960’s and the fertile jazz scene in New York City ignited Soloff’s full-time career.

By 1966, he was performing with Maynard Ferguson and soon became a regular in the Joe Henderson/Kenny Dorham Big Band. That year he also joined the Gil Evans Group, an affiliation he considers his most influential.  “I first met Gil Evans when I was 22 and he became my musical Godfather,” remembers Soloff. It was a creative relationship that lasted until Evans death in 1988. In the large bands of the 1960’s, Soloff received his continuing education, joining groups led by Clark Terry, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri including the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band.  But it was in the popular groundbreaking group Blood, Sweat and Tears that Soloff’s trumpet solos became an indelible part of American culture.  He was an integral part of the band from 1968 to 1973, racking up 9 Gold records worldwide, a Grammy for “Record of The Year” (1969) and creating those searing horn lines in “Spinning Wheel.”

A respected educator as well, he continues to appear as guest soloist at universities around the country where he utilizes the Gil Evans arrangements that have been an essential element of his repertoire through the years.  He has been on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music for 20 or so years and has been an adjunct faculty member at Julliard and the New School.  “I want to continue developing my own personal artistic ventures,” notes Soloff.  “There are a thousand ideas I have for collaborative efforts. Music can be choreographed or spontaneous and I am most inspired when I have the opportunity to perform in a variety of settings.”

Friday, February 12, 2010

Harlem in the Himalayas
Sunny Jain
7:00pm
Location: Rubin Museum of Art
(150 West 17th Street)
$18 in advance | $20 at door |
Tickets:  Box Office: 212-620-5000 ext. 344

From the resounding hall of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, to the intimate setting of Smalls Jazz Club in New York City, to the massive applause on festival stages in India, Sunny Jain is a highly respected drummer, composer and educator.  Born to Punjabi immigrant parents and raised in Rochester, New York, Sunny has become an Indian-American musical trailblazer.

Sunny leads Red Baraat, a one-of-kind dhol 'n' brass band melding the infectious North Indian rhythm Bhangra with funk, soca, and dramatic improvisatory conducting.  His Sunny Jain Collective has been touted as a leading voice for the new music Indo Jazz (a movement of first-generation South Asians equally steeped in the jazz tradition and the music of their cultural heritage).

In 2002, Sunny was designated a Jazz Ambassador by the U.S. Department of State and The Kennedy Center. He then received the Arts International Award in both 2003 and 2005.  In 2005, Jazz Hot magazine (France) featured Jain in their drummer issue, along with Lewis Nash, Horacio 'El Negro' Hernandez and Winard Harper.  He was noted as a rising star for his fusion of jazz and Indian music.  In 2006, Traps magazine highlighted Sunny as a top New York City world jazz drummer.  Sunny was commissioned in 2006 by Chamber Music America's New Works to compose new music for a project he later named, Taboo. He closed out 2007 with a milestone performance with the famed Sufi-rock group Junoon at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway, playing for Al Gore. In 2008, Sunny was commissioned by the Aaron Copland Fund to record Taboo.

Sunny also plays the indigenous drum of Punjab, dhol, and made his professional debut as dholi playing in the first ever Indian Broadway show, Bombay Dreams (2004).  He has since gone on to perform with Masala Bhangra fitness guru, Sarina Jain (“The Indian Jane Fonda”), jazz legend Dewey Redman with Asha Puthli, and will make his Hollywood debut playing dhol in the movie, Accidental Husband, starring Uma Thurman, Colin Firth, and Isabella Rossellini.

In 2007 Sunny became the first ever artist endorser for India’s largest and oldest musical manufacturer, Bina Music and he exclusively uses Vater drumsticks.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jazz for Curious Listeners
Jazz on Film: Rarities - Pt. 1
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Spend an evening watching rare film clips of Bill “Bogangles” Robinson, Sid Catlett, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan, Benny Goodman, Christian McBride/Dave Holland, and others. Heaven!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Harlem in the Himalayas
Ben Williams and Company
7:00pm
Location: Rubin Museum of Art
(150 West 17th Street)
$18 in advance | $20 at door |
Tickets:  Box Office: 212-620-5000 ext. 344

Ben Williams, an acoustic and electric bassist, composer, and educator, is a native of Washington, DC, now living in New York City. He recently received a Master’s degree from the Juilliard School under the instruction of Ben Wolfe. He is a 2007 graduate of Michigan State University where he received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education with an emphasis in jazz studies under the instruction of Rodney Whitaker and Jack Budrow.

On October 11, 2009, Ben won the most prestigious award in the world for aspiring jazz musicians by winning first place at the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He was awarded a $20,000 Scholarship and a recording contract with Concord Records. The competition was judged by such iconic bassists as Ron Carter, Dave Holland and Christian McBride. Since the Monk competition, he debuted his band at the Jazz Gallery in New York, which received a great review in the New York Times by Nate Chinen.

Ben is currently touring with Stefon Harris and Blackout, and is featured on the group’s latest release “Urbanus,” which was recently nominated for a Grammy. He can also be heard on the newly released album by the Marcus Strickland trio entitled “Idiosyncrasies,” and will also be featured on the upcoming release by the Jacky Terrasson trio. He has traveled extensively over several continents with performances in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.

Aside from the recent Monk Competition Award, he won first place in the International Society of Bassists Competition in 2005. He is a two-time winner of the Fish Middleton Jazz Scholarship Awards Competition at the (now defunct) East Coast Jazz Festival, having won second place in 2002 and third place in 2000 when he was ages 15 and 17. He won first place in 1999 in the DC Piano Competition Scholarship Award in the Intermediary category and again first place in the Advanced category in 2000. In 2002 he was a scholarship recipient of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) at their annual conference in Long Beach, CA; and also in 2002 he was a scholarship recipient of the Duke Ellington Jazz Society Annual Awards of Washington. In 2003 he was a scholarship recipient of the Steans Institute in Chicago. Numerous awards and scholarships were also presented to him during his continuing education at Michigan State University.

Ben started his musical career at age 11 while studying bass under Martha Vance at the Fillmore Arts Center, a DC Public School program. He was introduced to jazz by Fred Foss, the director of the Fillmore Jazz Band. The Thelonious Monk Institute partnered with Fillmore's jazz studies program and provided him with weekly one-on-one jazz bass instructions under DC area jazz musicians like Keter Betts, Steve Novosel, Michael Bowie, Emphriam Wolfolk, James King, and Paul Robinson.

The Monk Institute's mentoring partnership program provided workshops to young students like Ben where he was able to participate. By age 12, Ben had received one-on-one instructions from the great Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and others. Before he entered high school at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts he had already performed at numerous venues throughout the DC metropolitan area such as at the White House, the Vice President's House, the State Department, the Kennedy Center, Congressional Black Caucus, and many others. Following his first two years of jazz studies he decided he would make a "lifetime commitment of learning" for a career in music. He went to the Duke Ellington School prepared for rigorous bass instructions from Ms. Carolyn Kellock along with jazz studies and performance training from Davey Yarborough. He graduated in 2002 with academic honors as well as awarded the First Honors in Instrumental Music.

Ben is honored to have had the opportunity to perform with Wynton Marsalis, Benny Golson, Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride Big Band, Roy Hargrove, Bilal, Mulgrew Miller, Cyrus Chestnut, Steve Wilson, Gretchen Parlato, Hamiet Bluiett, Eric Reed, Sean Jones, Ron Blake, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Donald Harrison, James Williams, Rodney Jones, and Steve Nelson, to name a few.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jazz for Curious Listeners

Jazz on Film: Rarities - Pt. 2
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Hosted by Loren Schoenberg, NJMH Executive Director

Another evening of rare film clips – bringing Bessie Smith, Eubie Blake/Noble Sissle, Zora Neale Hurston, Benny Goodman, Art Tatum, Django Reinhardt, Lucky Thompson, Ben Webster, Booker Little, Max Roach, and others back to Harlem.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jazz at the Playershttp://www.theplayersnyc.org/members/
Jonathan Batiste Trio
7:00pm
Location: The Players
(16 Gramercy Park S. | get directions)
$20 | Reservations or 212-475-6116

Jonathan Batiste is part of a culturally rich and significant lineage of musicians and musical families known worldwide: he is the most recent arrival from the Batiste family of New Orleans. At the age of 8, he was already featured singing with his family in Japan. He later performed with them on percussion, and by 12 had found his destiny—the piano. His family has been respected for generations as one of the top in the creation of the city's musical landscapes. These were the roots of his musical beginnings. Since then he has performed, recorded and toured over 30 countries with artists such as Harry Connick Jr., Abbey Lincoln, Jimmy Buffett, Lenny Kravitz, Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, The Batiste Brothers, Alvin Batiste, and currently with Cassandra Wilson and Roy Hargrove. He has three CD releases under his own name, the first released when he was 17 and still studying at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA) High School in New Orleans. Batiste is also a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City.

His ability to communicate to a wide range of audiences is apparent. He debuted at Carnegie Hall when he was 18 years old, has performed at major music festivals worldwide, and was the youngest featured performer at the 2008 NBA All-Star game alongside other New Orleans' musical icons on his instrument: Dr. John, Allen Tousiannt, Ellis Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr, and the Neville Brothers. He is a young man of poise, character, intelligence, charm, and sophistication, all of which will be clearly in evidence this evening at Jazz at the Players.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Harlem Speaks
George Faison, Dancer/choreographer
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Broadway dancer and choreographer George William Faison was born on December 21, 1945 in Washington, D.C. He attended Dunbar High School, where he studied with the Jones-Haywood Capitol Ballet and Carolyn Tate of Howard University. His first performance was with the American Light Opera Company. After graduating from high school, Faison attended Howard University with plans of becoming a dentist. He also worked in theater with the acclaimed African American theater director Owen Dodson.

In 1966, two years after he entered Howard, Faison saw a production of the Alvin Ailey Company. Within one week, he had decided to become a professional dancer and left Howard University to move to New York City. There, he studied at the School of American Ballet, where he took classes with Arthur Mitchell, June Taylor, Claude Thompson, Dudley Williams, Charles Moore and James Truitte, among others. He began his first professional jobs with the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Connecticut, and continued studying dance with Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (HARYOU) and Harkness House.

In 1967, Faison auditioned with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where he would remain for the next three years. In 1970, Faison left the Alvin Ailey dance company to pursue his own career. After a part in the Broadway musical "Purlie," Faison created the George Faison Universal Dance Experience with only $600 dollars. The group's dancers included such notables as Renee Rose, Debbie Allen, Al Perryman and Gary DeLoatch. Faison was the artistic director, choreographer and dancer for the group.

In 1972, Faison made his choreographic debut with Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope on Broadway, which was the start of a series of successful choreography jobs. These included Via Galactica, Tilt and 1974's all-black retelling of The Wizard of Oz entitled The Wiz. The Wiz was a huge success, and helped to launch the careers of singer Stephanie Mills and actor Geoffrey Holder. That year, Faison became the first African American to win a Tony award. The George Faison Universal Dance Experience disbanded the following year, and Faison began focusing on musical theater. He also worked as a choreographer for entertainers like Earth, Wind and Fire, Ashford and Simpson, Dionne Warwick, Patti Labelle and Cameo, among others. 1981 brought the massive critical success of Apollo, Just Like Magic, an off-Broadway production that transitioned him from choreographer to director. In 1997, he directed and choreographed King, a musical performed at President Clinton's inauguration. In 1996, he founded the American Performing Arts Collaborative (A-PAC). Since that time, Faison constructed an arts center called the Faison Firehouse Theater, a project of A-PAC which has committed its resources to Harlem.

Look for insightful discussion of the intersection between jazz music and American dance as well as Faison's plans for productions with jazz as a main theme.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday Panels
Jammin' the Blues: A Look at Jazz and Cinema
Noon - 4PM
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Jazz came to life in the 20th century, as did cinema, and the two have been intertwined ever since their earliest days. Whether it was as a subject, an influence, or the topic itself, jazz and cinema reflect upon each other in myriad ways.

Join us for screening of film, panel discussions, and more. Panelists to include: Herb Boyd, Jonathan Scheuer, Scott DeVeaux and others. Updates at www.jmih.org and in our weekly emails as well.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Special Event
A Great Day in Harlem
1:00 – 3:30pm
Location: New York Historical Society
(170 Central Park West)
FREE | For more information: 212-485-9275

Interview with the filmmaker, Jean Bach by NJMH Executive Director Loren Schoenberg.

Come discover the rich story and hear the engrossing sounds behind the most famous photo in the history of jazz, in which photographer Art Kane coordinated a group photograph of many of the top jazz musicians in NYC in 1958 for Esquire magazine. The documentary features interviews of many of the musicians in the photograph who talk about the day the now iconic photograph was taken, and shows film footage taken that day by Milt Hinton and his wife. The film was nominated in 1995 for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

The photo was also a key object in Steven Spielberg's film, The Terminal,  starring Tom Hanks as Viktor Navorski, a character who comes to the United States in search of Benny Golson's autograph, with which he can complete his deceased father's collection of autographs from the musicians pictured in the photo.

The afternoon screening of the documentary of the same title (1994) will be followed by an interview with the filmmaker, Jean Bach by NJMH Executive Director Loren Schoenberg.

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