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National Jazz Museum in Harlem Events, April 2011

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem cordially invites you to our April public programs, which we promise will warm your hearts as much as the weather of spring brings miles of smiles to your face.

Our bi-weekly discussion series first features flutist/saxophonist James Spaulding and then composer Maria Schneider, who will be premiering a large-scale works at Carnegie Hall in May. We continue in the spirit of celebration for our once-a-month Jazz for Curious Readers session, focusing on drummer Art Taylor's classic book of interviews, Notes and Tones.

For live performances, we direct you to The Rubin Museum's cherrywood-lined acoustic performance space, where Fred Hersch will play solo piano, and Scott Robinson will lead a quartet the likes of which you've never seen -  before for Harlem in the Himalayas. The Players Club is yet another beautiful setting for jazz players, which is why we point to this month's show by the National Jazz Museum in Harlem All Stars!

On the West Coast, at Stanford University, Executive Director Loren Schoenberg will lead a special class of Charles Mingus on film. And right here, at the Visitor's Center of the museum, we feature classes on the role of the rhythm section in jazz, from the 1930's to the 60's, in four Jazz for Curious Listeners sessions as well as our Saturday Panel, in which the Jonathan Batiste Trio will swing for you, and explain it at the same time.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Harlem in the Himalayas

Fred Hersch, solo piano

7:00pm
Location: Rubin Museum of Art
(150 West 17th Street)
$18 in advance | $20 at door | 
For tickets: RMA Box Office or call 212-620-5000 ext. 344

Pianist and composer Fred Hersch has been called "one of the small handful of brilliant musicians of his generation" by Downbeat and has earned a place among the foremost jazz artists in the world today. From the late 70's onward as a sideman to jazz legends including Joe Henderson, Art Farmer and Stan Getz, he has solidified a reputation as a versatile master of jazz piano, as well as a relentlessly probing composer and conceptualist. His career as a performer has been greatly enhanced by his composing activities, a vital part of nearly all of his live concerts and recordings May of 2011 will see the premiere of My Coma Dreams for actor/singer, animation/multimedia and mixed ensemble. Hersch is considered to be the most prolific and widely-praised solo jazz pianist of his generation. Palmetto has just released Alone at the Vanguard which documents his second solo engagement at the legendary club.  An early review in All Music Guide calls it "a once-in-a-decade album that will stay with you long after the final track fades out."

Don't miss this opportunity!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jazz for Curious Readers

Art Taylor: Notes and Tones, a celebration
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Notes and Tones is one of the most controversial, honest, and insightful books ever written about jazz. As a black musician himself, Arthur Taylor asked his subjects hard questions about the role of black artists in a majority white society. Free to speak their minds, these musicians offer startling insights into their music, their lives, and the creative process itself. Notes and Tones consists of twenty-nine no-holds-barred conversations which drummer Arthur Taylor held with some of the most influential jazz musicians in jazz—including: Thelonious Monk, Erroll Garner, Elvin Jones, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Dexter Gordon.

Arthur Taylor drummed with Coleman Hawkins, Bud Powell, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and dozens of others. He was called ”one of the great drummers to come out of the fertile Harlem bebop scene” (New York Times) and ”one of the best bandleaders living or dead” (Village Voice). His band, Taylor’s Wailers, recorded several albums, and was based in New York City up until Taylor's death in 1995.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jazz for Curious Listeners

It Don't Mean a Thing: Great Jazz Rhythm Sections

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

Count Basie's All American 4

The Count Basie Orchestra's All American rhythm section appropriately initiates our focus this month on great rhythm sections. Basie (piano), Walter Page (bass), Jo Jones (drums), and Freddie Green (guitar) together perfected what, after Louis Armstrong's style modeled it, became known as swing. From the mid-30's to early 40's, the Count Basie Orchestra popularized this feeling, contributing to the period of American history called the Swing Era. These four men blended into a "cohesive whole greater than the sum of its parts," as Loren Schoenberg, Executive Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem put it in The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Jazz.

We invite you to swing on through to our Visitor's Center for this free event in which the sounds of Lester Young and the All American rhythm section will reign once again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Harlem Speaks

James Spaulding, flutist/saxophonist

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

James Spaulding has established his reputation as a masterful soloist for ensemble performances, and for many years was among the busier sidemen for Blue Note Records. An exceptional saxophonist and flutist, he is one of the many fine artists to come out of the Indianapolis, Indiana area. James is a modernist, with solid roots in classical jazz; his saxophone style is an extension of the Charlie Parker influence, but his overall concept incorporates much of the broad jazz saxophone heritage.

Spaulding's musical training started early, as he came from a musical family in his place of birth Indiana (his father was a professional musician who played the guitar and led his own big band, traveling throughout the country). Jamesbegan playing a bugle when he was in grade school. He later took up the trumpet and saxophone on his own, and while in high school studied clarinet. He made his professional debut playing around Indianapolis with an R&B group.

From 1954 to 1957, Spaulding was in the army playing in service bands. When he was discharged, he settled in Chicago where he performed in clubs leading his own group, and had a stay with the Sun Ra Orchestra. He also furthered his flute studies there at the Chicago Cosmopolitan School of Music. In 1962, he arrived in New York City, and subsequently was associated with notables such as Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Max Roach and the Ellington Orchestra.

In 1975, he received a bachelor's degree in music from Livingston College in New Jerseywhere he taught flute as an adjunct professor. James' daughters, Gina and Yvonne Spaulding were on the cover of his very first recording: The Legacy of Duke Ellington, recorded in 1975. Mr. Spaulding's range of performance experiences extends nationally and internationally, from the concert stage to jazz clubs to colleges and street fairs. His original music, a suite entitled "A Song of Courage," was performed by him with full orchestra and choir at the Voorhees Chapel at the RutgersUniversitycampus from funds awarded him by the National Endowment for the Arts. He has been recorded on over 100 recordings.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Special Event: Mingus on Film with Loren Schoenberg

Sunday, April 10, 2011 | 2:00pm
Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University | FREE

Loren Schoenberg, Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, concludes the Remember Mingus series with an afternoon of rare film footage, live concert clips, and lively discussion about Charles Mingus’ music, life and legacy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jazz for Curious Listeners

It Don't Mean a Thing: Great Jazz Rhythm Sections

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

Duke Jordan/Tommy Potter/Max Roach

After Charlie "Bird" Parker and Dizzy Gillespie parted ways on the bandstand, Bird formed a quintet featuring Miles Davis and Jordan (piano), Potter (bass) and Roach (drums). Although they maintained the swing of their forebears as heard in last week's class, the way they dealt with accents and tempo transformed to perform the style that became known as bebop. Join us to hear the sonic transformation that revolutionized jazz.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jazz at the Players

Melba Joyce and The National Jazz Museum in Harlem All Stars 7:00pm

Location: The Players

(16 Gramercy Park S. | get directions)
$20 | Reservations: reservations@theplayersnyc.org or 212-475-6116

If you've never been to the elegant setting of The Players, we urge you to reserve a seat asap, because the down-home swing of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem All Stars will make you tap your feet with glee, most happily, and swing your troubles away.

Melba Joyce was born in Dallas, Texas where she grew up under the warm and instructive musical influence of her mother and grand-parents.  Her father, Melvin Moore, a prominent vocalist with the jazz and swing bands of his era (including Dizzy Gillespie, with whom he toured and recorded )was also one of Melba's influences. After her family moved to Los Angeles, Melba was immediately noticed by musicians and soon found herself opening for such renowned artists as Miles Davis, Freddy Hubbard and Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.

Melba tirelessly toured the war-torn fields of Vietnam to entertain the troops at the height of that horrid conflict, an experience that raised her social conscience to new heights.  When Melba returned, she was appointed panelist for the Congressional Black Caucus of Women in Jazz Forum. She produced the first Women in Jazz Festival at Harlem's Schomburg Center for Black Culture; and became a principal in the Day of the Child Series for UNICEF.  With funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ms. Joyce produced Jazz For Special People, a musical education series for the handicapped.

In 2008, The Central Park Conservancy presented Melba with a very special recognition through the City of New York for creating and producing The First Women's Jazz Festival. The program, held in Harlem at the park's Dana House, featured  Kunle Abodunde reading of a chapter from his unreleased book.  During Melba's tour assignment in Nigeria as a Jazz Ambassador, Abodunde  attended her performance and being deeply impressed included a chapter in the book describing what he felt about the evening.

Her long and impressive career has spanned three decades in the company of and sharing top billing with such giants of the music world as Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughn, Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and so many others.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Harlem in the Himalayas

Scott Robinson Quartet

7:00pm
Location: Rubin Museum of Art
(150 West 17th Street)
$18 in advance | $20 at door | 
For tickets: RMA Box Office or call 212-620-5000 ext. 344

Scott Robinson, bass saxophone
JD Parran, basssaxophone
Vinny Golia, bass saxophone
Warren Smith, drums, percussion

A respected performer in all areas of jazz, from traditional to avant-garde, Scott Robinson brings audiences an unusual pairing of three bass saxophones with percussion for this raucous and soulful concert—his encore performance at the Rubin Museum. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, Robinson, who is known for his work on unusual and obscure styles of saxophones, has been the winner of a number ofDown Beat Critics Polls and Jazz Journalists Association awards in recent years.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jazz for Curious Listeners

It Don't Mean a Thing: Great Jazz Rhythm Sections

7:00 – 8:30pm

Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Red Garland/Paul Chambers/Philly Joe Jones

Miles Davis was a key member of the Charlie Parker Quintet, whose rhythm section was the focus of last week's class. This week we'll hear how Davis and other giants came into their own with the solid yet flexible support of one of the most grooving and soulful rhythm sections in the history of the idiom. The mid-50’s classics we'll listen to tonight are never old, but hearing them could make you feel younger. Don't miss it!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Harlem Speaks

Maria Schneider, Composer

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

Maria Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and beyond categorization.” She and her orchestra became widely known starting in 1994 when they released their debut recording, Evanescence. With that recording, Schneider began to develop a highly personal way of writing for her 17-member collective, tailoring her compositions to distinctly highlight the unique voices of the group. Subsequently, the Maria Schneider Orchestra has performed at festivals and concert halls worldwide. She has received numerous commissions and guest conducting invites, working with more than 85 groups from over 30 countries spanning Europe, South America, Australia, Asia and North America.

Schneider’s music blurs the lines between genres, and as a result, her long list of commissioners has become quite varied. They include the Norrbotten Big Band and Danish Radio Orchestra with Toots Thielemans and Ivan Lins, the Metropole Orchestra in the Netherlands (several works), Orchestra National de Jazz (Recapitulation), Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra (El Viento), Monterey Jazz Festival (Scenes from Childhood, Willow Lake), The American Dance Festival (for dance company, Pilobolus–Dissolution), University of Miami Concert Jazz Band (Three Romances), Jazz at Lincoln Center (Buleria, Soleá y Rumba), Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (Aires de Lando), Peter Sellars’ New Crowned Hope Festival (Vienna’s Mozart Festival–Cerulean Skies), Kronos Quartet (String Quartet No. 1) and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra with soprano, Dawn Upshaw (Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories), a work that will receive its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall, May 13th, 2011, conducted by Schneider.

Schneider’s most recent work (premiering June 12th, 2011), co-commissioned by the Ojai Festival, The Australian Chamber Orchestra and Cal Performances, will blur boundaries further as it features the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Dawn Upshaw, and two musicians long associated with Schneider’s own orchestra: pianist Frank Kimbrough, and multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson. For this work, she is incorporating poems by poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser, from his book ”Winter Morning Walks.”

Schneider continues to be a pioneer in funding her projects. She recently composed two works for her own orchestra with the involvement of commissioners, not from arts organizations, but directly from her ArtistShare® fan base. "Concert in the Garden" and her orchestra’s latest album, "Sky Blue" (on which Cerulean Skies was recorded) were both named “Jazz Album of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association and the DOWNBEAT Critics Poll.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Panels

The Beat Goes On: The Jonathan Batiste Trio Demonstrates What The Rhythm Section does

12:00 – 4:00pm

Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

This Saturday panel is a perfect complement to and extension of our Jazz for Curious Listener's focus on great rhythm sections. Jonathan Batiste’s Trio will demonstrate how the piano comps, the bass walks and the drums ride the cymbals, yes, but that's only the start. You'll witness, live, how the bass and drums lock-in together creating the basis for the swing; how the trio ebbs and flows and communicates non-verbally to create musical magic. Not only should this class not be missed, it's also a chance to introduce jazz music to those curious about it, but haven't heard it up close and personal enough yet to connect with it. Do them and yourself a favor!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jazz for Curious Listeners

It Don't Mean a Thing: Great Jazz Rhythm Sections

7:00 – 8:30pm

Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

 McCoy Tyner/Jimmy Garrison/Elvin Jones

We started in the 30's with the rhythm section fronted by Count Basie, then moved to the 40's with a foundational group of three, and thereafter transitioned to the 50's. For our last session of this month's Great Jazz Rhythm Sections theme, we land on the doorstep of a classic 60's rhythm section that supported the Great John Coltrane. McCoy's percussive style, with Garrison's booming bass, and Jones' polyrhythmic fire combined to change the course of the music yet again.