National Jazz Museum in Harlem June Schedule

We launch an exciting month of programming in conversation with Will Friedwald, one of the nation’s top jazz critics and authorities on jazz singing, for Jazz for Curious Readers. Next, we present a listening and learning session on a classic album by Bill Evans, the first of five classic recordings for discussion at Jazz for Curious Listeners in June.

Living legend Jon Hendricks, the reigning master of vocalese, truly embodies the notion of “living history.” Hear history come alive at Harlem Speaks with Hendricks, and, later in the month, the legendary bassist/educator Rufus Reid.

A special session of Harlem Speaks will be held at The Riverside Theater, as part of its annual Family Arts Festival. Young New Orleans trumpeter and composer Etienne Charles will lead the NJMH All-Stars in a groove we call Caribbean Swing.

Come to Connecticut to hear the NJMH All-Stars celebrate the music of Benny Carter and swing back to Harlem in late June as they focus their fire on the music of Duke Ellington. Our Saturday Panel discussion celebrates the centennial of the peerless pianist Art Tatum and the mighty tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, and their continued relevance ion the 21st century.

Our Harlem in the Himalayas concert features one of the younger stars in jazz, pianist Kevin Hays, in a wonderful acoustic setting at the Rubin Museum of Art.

Whether it’s live performance or discussion, our public programming guarantees you a good time in the joyful spirit of swing.

Monday, June 1, 2009

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

Dubbed (by Past Times magazine) as "The Poet Laureate of vintage pop music," Friedwald is internationally recognized as the leading authority on jazz singing and "adult" pop music. He is the author of three books on the subject, the most recent of which is Tony Bennett's autobiography, The Good Life (1998, Pocket Books) and also include Jazz Singing and Sinatra! The Song is You, both published in hardcover by Scribners (Simon and Schuster) and in paperback by Da Capo Press. Sinatra! The Song is You is the first full-length musical biography of Frank Sinatra and was hailed by The New York Times Book Review as the "single most important book on Sinatra ever published." In 1996, Sinatra! Received the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Excellence In Music Criticism.

Since 1984, Friedwald has written regularly about music for The Village Voice and also appears frequently in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Entertainment Weekly, Oxford American, New York, Entertainment Weekly, New York Newsday, L. A. Weekly, Mojo, BBC Music Magazine, Stereo Review, Fi(Delity), The New York Observer (where he was the resident jazz critic), Seven Days and numerous music and film journals.

With prolific television and radio experience under his belt, Friedwald has appeared on hundreds of programs in both mediums. He has served as a consultant and on-screen commentator on many television documentaries and news programs (including ABC Nightline, The MacNeil Lehrer Report, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, and A&E Biography's profiles of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Mel Tormé). On the radio, he has hosted many of his own regular disc jockey radio shows, and has also served as a commentator / "columnist" on the National Public Radio program Artbeat. He was a frequent guest with Stan Martin and Jonathan Schwartz on WQEW, and was the subject of an hour-long interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. He served as a consultant and interviewee on NPR's massive Ellington project as well as on dozens of installments of Jazz Profiles and other NPR documentary programs.

In addition, Friedwald has produced and annotated hundreds of compact disc reissues, including several Grammy-winning packages (out of a total of six Grammy nominations). Expect an insightful and humorous evening of wit and historical depth.

 
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Special Event
Dine Around Downtown with the NJMH All-Stars 11AM – 3PM

Location: Chase Manhattan Plaza, between Liberty & Pine and Nassau & William Sts.  The Downtown Alliance is pleased to present Dine Around Downtown 2009.

Savor some of the best food in town at the 11th annual Dine Around Downtown - a Downtown tradition showcasing over 50 of the finest restaurants in Lower Manhattan. Sample signature menu items for $3 to $6 while enjoying an array of live entertainment and music by the Jazz Museum throughout the day. Rain date is Wednesday, June 3.

Jazz for Curious Listeners
5 Classic Albums: Bill Evans Trio at the Village Vanguard
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Learn how to listen to classic jazz albums from a musician’s perspective. This live recording by the Bill Evans Trio at the Village Vanguard on June 25, 1961, marked the end of one of the most sublime instrumental combinations in jazz history when bassist Scott LaFaro died in a car accident 10 days later. This unit is underdocumented because Evans, a notorious perfectionist, was reluctant to record. The interchange between Evans on piano, LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums is balletic in its balance of emotional beauty and technical precision. Multiple takes of "Gloria's Step," "Alice in Wonderland," "All of You," and "Jade Visions" show how the invention these players brought to each performance makes repeated material sound like movements in a suite.
 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Harlem Speaks

Jon Hendricks, Vocalist
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Jon Hendricks has been called the "James Joyce of Jive" by Times Magazine and "The Poet Laureate of Jazz" by jazz critic and historian Leonard Feather. He has distinguished himself as a vocalist capable of transforming instrumental choruses into lyrically rich voices, an art form called vocalese.

Before Hendricks reached his teens, his family moved to Toledo, Ohio, where he began appearing on radio and where he encountered the pianist extraordinaire Art Tatum, who took a keen interest in Hendricks’ musical development. A brief encounter with another iconoclastic musical genius—Charlie Parker—caused Hendricks to pursue music professionally.

He was the key lyricist and principal member of the trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross formed in 1958. The group remained together for 6 years, during which time the trio toured widely and recorded extensively, featuring a repertory of jazz vocalese. The trio mastered the technique of adding words to jazz instrumental classics, including those of Basie and Ellington. After that, Hendricks performed with the new group, Jon Hendricks and Company. He moved to London in 1968 and performed in Europe and Africa for five years. He frequently performed on British television and appeared in the British film "Jazz is our Religion" and the french film "Hommage a Cole Porter".

He then moved to California where he was a jazz critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and taught classes at California State University at Sonoma and the University of California at Berkeley. His 1985 album Vocalese, featuring the Manhattan Transfer, won five Grammy Awards. His television documentary, Somewhere To Lay My Weary Head, received an Emmy, Iris and Peabody Award. His stage work, Evolution of the Blues, ran an unprecedented five years at the Broadway theatre in San Francisco.

Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Buck Clayton, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Wynton Marsalis, and Bobby McFerrin are among those with whom he has worked. As written in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, "He is a fine scat singer, and is also adept at imitating instrumental sounds that his improvisations often surpass the solos played by his accompanists." None other than Al Jarreau declared that Hendricks is “pound-for-pound the best jazz singer on the planet—maybe that's ever been.”

His legacy of song, scat and puissant lyricism is perhaps matched only by his story-telling talents, as you will find out in this historic discussion. Come early: we expect a full house.

 
Friday, June 5, 2009

Harlem Speaks
Caribbean Swing with Etienne Charles and the NJMH All-Stars
7:00 – 9:00pm
Location: The Riverside Theater
(91 Claremont Avenue)
FREE | Family Arts Festival box office: 212-870-6784

Join us for an interview with and then music from 2006 National Trumpet Competition winner Etienne Charles. One listen to his debut recording Culture Shock shows the depth and breadth of his varied musical heritage. From the Calypso and Caribbean steel pan grooves of his native Trinidad, to sophisticated swing firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, Charles deftly incorporates a multitude of styles while maintaining continuity, freshness, and maturity in his sound.

Charles comes from a rich legacy of musical tradition. His grandfather was seldom seen without his cuatro or guitar.  His father Francis was a member of Phase II Pan Groove, one of the world’s top steel bands and one that Etienne would later join himself. Music surrounded Charles as a child, emanating from his father’s record collection, and the sounds of calypso, steel pan, and African shango and tassa drumming.  These formative years inform Charles’s playing and are evident in his sound today.

For his first album, Culture Shock, Charles assembled an outstanding and seasoned band of veteran musicians to help him bring his vision of jazz fused with Afro-Caribbean rhythms to fruition. Pianist extraordinaire Marcus Roberts is featured, with Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra trombonist Vincent Gardner, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, Ralph MacDonald, vocalist Pam Laws, saxophonist Dayve Stewart, and the hard swinging and solid rhythm section of Rodney Jordan and Leon Anderson on bass and drums respectively. This all-star cast brings together Charles’s diverse influences and creates a unified, fresh, and urgent musical presentation on par with the best jazz being made today. Etienne Charles is a talented, creative soul with a vision and the will to bring it to the world, as heard on his most recent recording, Folklore, a suite of jazz-oriented compositions that address the mythical heritage of the Caribbean region.
 
 
Saturday, June 6, 2009

Special Event
Benny Carter Memorial Concert, NJMH All-Stars

Loren Schoenberg, tenor saxophone; Kris Bowers, piano, Yasushi Nakamura, bass; Marion Felder, drums

1:00pm
Location: Jewish Community Center
(9 Route 39 S Sherman, CT 06784-2026)
FREE | For more information: 860-355-8050

Join the NJMH All-Stars in a tribute to jazz giant Benny Carter, an original and influential alto saxophonist, who was also a masterly composer and arranger and an important bandleader, trumpeter, and clarinetist. Along with Johnny Hodges and Charlie Parker, he is considered one of the three most influential alto sax stylists of the jazz idiom.

Carter grew up in New York City and attended Wilberforce College briefly before joining, as alto saxophonist and arranger, a series of big bands, including those led by Charlie Johnson, Horace Henderson, Chick Webb, and Fletcher Henderson.

Carter had learned the trumpet during his youth and began doubling on that instrument while leading McKinney's Cotton Pickers (1931–32); he then led his own big band in 1932–34. He spent most of 1935–38 playing and arranging in Europe. When he returned to the United States, he formed big swing bands in New York and California. Carter settled permanently in Los Angeles in 1945, where he concentrated largely on compositions for films and television, though he sometimes played alto saxophone on jazz tours and recordings.

Carter's saxophone work at its best is characterized by purity of tone, elegant ornamentation, rhythmic precision and swing, and diatonic phrasing; often it features closely constructed lines based on the development of simple musical motifs. As an arranger he was especially noted for his scoring for woodwind sections, and he composed attractive songs such as “Waltzing the Blues,” “Blue Star,” and “When Lights Are Low.” Among Carter's most acclaimed recordings are of the songs “Six or Seven Times,” “Dee Blues,” and “I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me,” all of which were performed with the Chocolate Dandies; “Crazy Rhythm,” with Coleman Hawkins; “Shoe Shiner's Drag,” with Lionel Hampton; and a 1961 album led by Carter, Further Definitions.

Carter focused on composing and arranging during the 1960s, but he played with greater frequency from the mid-1970s. He maintained a highly active career well into the 1990s, when an octogenarian Carter was still regarded as one of the top alto saxophonists in the jazz world. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000.
 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
5 Classic Albums: Wayne Shorter, Speak No Evil
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Learn how to listen to classic jazz albums from a musician’s perspective. Tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter came into his own in 1964, the year of this classic recording as well as the year Miles Davis hired him away from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Up until that time he was known primarily through his association with Blakey, but the combination of three Blue Note albums in one year as a leader, and his new gig with the Miles Davis Quintet left no doubt about his unique abilities as a player and composer.

Speak No Evil is comprised of six original tunes written by Shorter and played by Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, and Elvin Jones. Herbie Hancock's classic Maiden Voyage was recorded just a few months earlier with the same basic group, and in many ways they are two sides of the same coin, with Shorter's collection having a darker tone. Over the next 40 years, Wayne Shorter would continue to explore the boundaries between traditional, free, and pop styles with Miles Davis, Weather Report and solo recordings, extending concepts that first came to light during this period in the early '60s.
 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
5 Classic Albums: Louis Armstrong plays W.C. Handy
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Learn how to listen to classic jazz albums from a musician’s perspective. A wonderful meeting of two institutions of American music, this 1954 album was perhaps the finest recording of Louis Armstrong's later career, with the great trumpeter-singer turning to material that was very close to his roots. Both W.C. Handy and Armstrong had a complex relationship with the blues, an essential source for both Handy's popular songs and Armstrong's improvisational art, and these recordings touch on the heart of the matter. On "Yellow Dog Blues," a product of Handy's own early and chance encounter with the rural blues, there's a majesty that recalls Armstrong's early recordings with Bessie Smith. Armstrong is clearly inspired by the classic material and the chance to stretch out on record, and his regular band of the period joins in perfectly. Trombonist Trummy Young, clarinetist Barney Bigard, pianist Billy Kyle, and singer Velma Middleton contribute stellar solos and support, while bassist Arvell Shaw and drummer Barrett Deems do an exceptional job of keeping the slower tempos rock steady. This is a deeply moving and consummately executed performance, as you will readily hear in this session of Jazz for Curious Listeners.
 

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Panels
Art Tatum and Ben Webster: A 2009 Centennial Celebration
10:00am – 4:00pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300

Tatum was blessed a prodigious technique and ironic sensibility that remained unsurpassed; Webster played in a fashion that exuded warmth, strength, passion and simplicity, but they were close friends and made one of the great albums of all times together, just months before Tatum died. Join us for panel discussions, rare film, and a lot of love directed at these two masters.

Art Tatum was among the most extraordinary of all jazz musicians, a pianist with wondrous technique who could not only play incredibly rapid lines with both hands (his 1933 solo version of "Tiger Rag" sounds as if there were three pianists jamming together) but was harmonically 30 years ahead of his time; all pianists have to deal to a certain extent with Tatum's innovations in order to be taken seriously. Able to play stride, swing, and boogie-woogie with speed and complexity that could only previously be imagined, Tatum's quick reflexes and boundless imagination kept his improvisations filled with fresh (and sometimes futuristic) ideas that put him way ahead of his contemporaries.

Born nearly blind, Tatum gained some formal piano training at the Toledo School of Music in Ohio but was largely self-taught. He first played professionally in Toledo in the mid-'20s and had a radio show during 1929-1930. In 1932 Tatum traveled with singer Adelaide Hall to New York and made his recording debut accompanying Hall (as one of two pianists). But for those who had never heard him in person, it was his solos of 1933 (including "Tiger Rag") that announced the arrival of a truly major talent. In the 1930s, Tatum spent periods working in Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and (in 1938) England.

Although he led a popular trio with guitarist Tiny Grimes (later Everett Barksdale) and bassist Slam Stewart in the mid-'40s, Tatum spent most of his life as a solo pianist who could always scare the competition. Some observers criticized him for having too much technique (is such a thing possible?), working out and then keeping the same arrangements for particular songs, and for using too many notes, but those minor reservations pale when compared to Tatum's reworkings of such tunes as "Yesterdays," "Begin the Beguine," and even "Humoresque." Although he was not a composer, Tatum's rearrangements of standards made even warhorses sound like new compositions.

Art Tatum, who recorded for Decca throughout the 1930s and Capitol in the late '40s, starred at the Esquire Metropolitan Opera House concert of 1944 and appeared briefly in his only film in 1947, The Fabulous Dorseys (leading a jam session on a heated blues). He recorded extensively for Norman Granz near the end of his life in the 1950s, both solo and with all-star groups; all of the music has been reissued by Pablo on a six-CD box set. The best of these feature a collaboration with tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, “whose economy of means made for a perfect contrast with Tatum,” writes Executive Director Loren Schoenberg in his The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Jazz. Tatum’s premature death from uremia has not resulted in any loss of fame, for his recordings still have the ability to scare modern pianists.

Ben Webster was considered one of the "big three" of swing tenors along with Coleman Hawkins (his main influence) and Lester Young. He had a tough, raspy, and brutal tone on stomps (with his own distinctive growls) yet on ballads he would play with warmth and sentiment and deep romanticism.

After violin lessons as a child, Webster learned how to play rudimentary piano (his neighbor Pete Johnson taught him to play blues). But after Budd Johnson showed him some basics on the saxophone, Webster played sax in the Young Family Band (which at the time included Lester Young). He had stints with Jap Allen and Blanche Calloway (making his recording debut with the latter) before joining Bennie Moten's Orchestra in time to be one of the stars on a classic session in 1932. Webster spent time with quite a few orchestras in the 1930s (including Andy Kirk, Fletcher Henderson in 1934, Benny Carter, Willie Bryant, Cab Calloway, and the short-lived Teddy Wilson big band).

In 1940 (after short stints in 1935 and 1936), Ben Webster became Duke Ellington's first major tenor soloist. During the next three years he was on many famous recordings, including "Cotton Tail" (which in addition to his memorable solo had a saxophone ensemble arranged by Webster) and "All Too Soon." After leaving Ellington in 1943 (he would return for a time in 1948-1949), Webster worked on 52nd Street; recorded frequently as both a leader and a sideman; had short periods with Raymond Scott, John Kirby, and Sid Catlett; and toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic during several seasons in the 1950s. In this period, Webster's work on ballads became quite popular and Norman Granz recorded him on many memorable sessions.
Webster recorded a classic set with Art Tatum and generally worked steadily, but in 1964 he moved permanently to Copenhagen where he played when he pleased during his last decade. Webster could swing with the best and his tone was a later influence on such diverse players as Archie Shepp, Lew Tabackin, Scott Hamilton, and Bennie Wallace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
5 Classic Albums: Paul Motian on Broadway
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Learn how to listen to classic jazz albums from a musician’s perspective. Paul Motian's On Broadway, Volume 1, released in 1989 is one of the best albums in Motian's long and varied career. Paul Motian is the drummer who played in Bill Evans' trio on such legendary albums like Waltz For Debby, Sunday Afternoon At The Village Vanguard, and Portrait In Jazz, to name a few. Motian has also recorded three more "On Broadway" sessions.

Motian is joined by guitarist Bill Frisell, saxophonist Joe Lovano, and bassist Charlie Haden. This recording is critically acclaimed for its fresh takes on jazz standards. Come discover why this modern recording deserves the designation of “classic.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Harlem Speaks
Rufus Reid, Bassist/Educator
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Rufus Reid, one of today's premiere bassists on the international jazz scene, with his reputation firmly established in the education arena, now adds composition to his vitae. For several years, Reid has been a participant in the BMI Jazz Composer's Workshop which has empowered him to move more deeply into the composing arena. He won the Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Award for his composition, "Skies Over Emilia." His composition, "Whims of the Blue Bird" is the result of this award's commission. This has led to further commissions. He is writing for string orchestra, jazz ensembles large and small, and double bass ensemble pieces.

Rufus Reid received a 2006 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to enable him to continue composing, and he received The ASCAP/IAJE Commission for Established Jazz Composers, which was premiered at the 2007 IAJE Conference in New York City.

The 2006 Sackler Commission Prize was awarded to Rufus which allowed him to fulfill a dream he has had to compose a work dedicated to the artist, Elizabeth Catlett. Her life and work inspired in Rufus a desire to honor her and introduce her to people who might not know about her. This four movement work for Jazz Big Band, inspired by four of her sculptures, premiered at The University of Connecticut at Storrs and at Stamford in March, 2007.

Reid's book, The Evolving Bassist, published since 1974, continues to be recognized as the industry standard as the definitive bass method. As of January, 2000, the book is available in its millennium edition.

Rufus Reid is equally known as an exceptional educator as well, teaching clinics since 1971, holding associations with Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, the Stanford University Jazz Workshop, and the Lake Placid Institute, to name a few. Reid was on the faculty of William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, as Full Professor and Director of the Jazz Studies and Performance program for twenty years completing his tenure in 1999.

Rufus Reid's major professional career began in Chicago and continues, since 1976, in New York City. Along with performing and recording with the remaining giants of jazz of today, he was privileged to share many musical moments with some that have passed on: Gene Ammons, Kenny Dorham, Eddie Harris, Sonny Stitt, Don Byas, Philly Joe Jones, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, and Art Farmer.

Born on February 10, 1944 in Atlanta, GA, Rufus Reid was raised in Sacramento, California where he played the trumpet through junior high and high school. Upon graduation from Sacramento High School, he entered the United States Air Force as a trumpet player. During that period he began to be seriously interested in the bass. After fulfilling his duties in the military, Rufus had decided he wanted to pursue a career as a professional bassist. He moved to Seattle, Washington, where he began serious study with James Harnett of the Seattle Symphony. He continued his education at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he studied with Warren Benfield and principal bassist, Joseph Guastefeste, both of the Chicago Symphony. He graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Music Degree as a Performance Major on the Double Bass.

In 1997, The International Association of Jazz Educators awarded Rufus with the Humanitarian Award. BASS PLAYER magazine, awarded Rufus the 1998 Jazz Educator Achievement Award, and DOWN BEAT magazine in March 1999, had a feature story on Rufus Reid as a legendary thirty year veteran. In November 1999, The New Jersey Chapter of the IAJE named him OUTSTANDING EDUCATOR of 1999.

Rufus Reid's new CD/DVD recording, Live at Kennedy Center, by noted Independent label, Motema Music was recorded October 13, 2006, at Washington, DC's venerable national home for the performing arts, and released May 29, 2007. This CD/DVD set features diverse moods and textures ranging from his dynamic opening jaunt "Come Out and Play," one of many compelling, accessible original compositions on the disc to "Ode to Angela," by Harold Land, "Heroes" by Billy Childs, and a sensitive solo bass interpretation of Duke Ellington's classic, "Sophisticated Lady." This package also includes a special in-depth feature, "Meet Rufus Reid," our sentiment exactly for this session of Harlem Speaks.
 

Friday, June 26, 2009

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

Pianist/Composer Kevin Hays has recorded 10 CDs as a leader and is featured on dozens of recordings with a variety of leading jazz artists. Included in his leader discography are 3 critically acclaimed recordings for Blue Note Records. His 'Seventh Sense' was praised by The New York Times and recognized as one of the “Top 40 Jazz Releases of the Year” by Musician Magazine.

Kevin has performed and recorded with some of the most prominent and influential musicians in Jazz, including Sonny Rollins, John Scofield, Benny Golson, Roy Haynes, Chris Potter, Al Foster, Joe Henderson, Buster Williams, Art Farmer and Joshua Redman.

Born May 1st of 1968 in New York City and raised in Connecticut, he began studying piano at the age of 6 and was playing professionally by 15. At 17 he began playing with baritone saxophone great Nick Brignola. After spending a year at The Manhattan School of Music, he began traveling in the U.S., Japan, and Europe with various bands including The Harper Brothers, Benny Golson, Joe Henderson and Eddie Gomez. In 1995 Sonny Rollins invited him to join his group; a year and a half later he began touring with guitarist John Scofield in his celebrated “Quiet” band.

Today, Kevin continues to perform worldwide in Solo concerts, with his Trio which includes bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Bill Stewart, and with The Sangha Quartet which features Seamus Blake, Larry Grenadier, and Bill Stewart. He also conducts Master Classes in the U.S. and overseas.

Kevin's recent recording activity includes a new Solo Piano CD Open Range on the ACT label; the launching of PinonDisk Records, his own label on which he has released his latest Trio CD What Survives; a new trio project with the groundbreaking web-based company, and two releases under the JazzEyes label: For Heaven's Sake (2006) and the recently released You've Got a Friend.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Special Event
NJMH Big Band Ellington Tribute
2:00 – 4:00pm
Location: Harlem Meer, just outside The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (Central Park at 110th between Lenox and 5th Avenues)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Featuring the NJMH All-Star Big band directed by Loren Schoenberg

As a fine art, jazz is timeless. What makes this so? One great example is Duke Ellington’s genius as a composer, arranger, big band leader, and pianist. Duke’s compositions, which capture the spirit of America in sound, will be the focus of this free Saturday concert. Come, bring some friends, and don’t forget your dancing shoes!
 

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jazz for Curious Listeners
5 Classic Albums: Common, Like Water for Chocolate
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300 or register online

Learn how to listen to classic jazz albums from a musician’s perspective. Common is a hip hop lyricist and spoken word artist known for his integration of political, cultural and educational themes in a socially conscious musical package that eschews the necessity of a “gangsta” pose for legitimacy or to cow-tow to a minstrel aesthetic.

As is the case with his Brooklyn homeboy, Mos Def, Common draws from a wide palette of musical styles in his recordings, including jazz. The title Like Water for Chocolate, is a double entendre: one meaning is derived from the movie of the same title, the other from the Gordan Parks photo of a black girl drinking from a “Colored Only” water fountain, used as the CD cover.

The recording is known for its Afrocentric focus, and features collaborations with guest stars from rap, eliciting a range of themes from love songs (“The Light,”) to a flip-the-script discussion between a pimp and a potential employee that humorously belies his rep as a “conscious rapper,” to a tribute to real hip hop history (“Nag Champa”), as well as a hat’s off to Fela Kuti and Assata Shakur.

This album was Common’s commercial breakthrough recording in 2000; he demonstrated that he could maintain his artistic integrity and get “large” at the same time. Come discover a jazz perspective on a hip hop classic.

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