The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival annually assembles some of the finest musicians in the world who reflect Parkerâ€™s musical individuality and genius, to promote appreciation for this highly influential and world-renowned artist. The two days of free concerts take place in neighborhoods where Charlie Parker lived and worked, in Harlemâ€™s Marcus Garvey Park and the Lower East Side’s Tompkins Square Park. On both days, the music starts at 3:00 PM.
Saturday, August 29
Marcus Garvey Park
124th St. & Mt. Morris Park
Frank Wess Quintet
In 1953 legendary saxophone and flute player Frank Wess joined the famed Count Basie Orchestra. He utilized the popularity of the Basie band to introduce the flute as an independent voice to jazz audiences, becoming one of its first major soloists. In 1964 he moved to New York City to lead his own groups and play with bands such as the New York Jazz Quartet and Dameronia. He held a contract with ABC for ten years, performing for Saturday Night Live, The Dick Cavett Show, and The Sammy Davis Jr. Show. For almost twenty years he played in a quintet called â€œTwo Franksâ€ with Frank Foster, his colleague from the Basie days. Wess remains a highly respected figure of the New York jazz scene while continuing to play gigs worldwide.
Grammy Award-winning alto-saxophonist Gary Bartz has had a long, noteworthy career in jazz. His distinguished body of work, spawning over fifty years, has made him one of the most esteemed saxophone players of his generation. Bartz has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Abbey Lincoln, Charles Mingus, McCoy Tyner, and Max Roach, among several others. A student of John Coltrane, Bartz frequently cites Charlie Parker as the reason why he plays the alto sax. Produced in association with Jill Newman Productions.
Newcomer JosÃ© James has been winning over fans with his deft combination of soul, hip hop, and jazz since emerging on the scene in 2008. Possessing a warm, rich baritone voice reminiscent of such artists as Terry Callier, Jon Lucien, and Gil-Scott Heron, James has made his mark on the international stage by performing at such venues as Central Park SummerStage (also produced by City Parks Foundation), North Sea Jazz Festival (Netherlands), Victoria Jazz Festival (Canada), Billboard Live (Tokyo), Centro Cultural (Brazil), the Hermitage (Russia), and Royal Festival Hall (UK). His debut album The Dreamer ranked number twenty-one on JazzTimesâ€™ Top 50 Jazz Albums of 2008.
Pianist Aaron Parks made a splash in 2008 with his debut Invisible Cinema. The album showcases his virtuosity and harmonic complexity even as it references a wider world of contemporary music-making. Parks first came to public attention during his tenure with Terence Blanchard, and he appeared on three of the acclaimed trumpeterâ€™s albums. With his technically involved yet boundlessly melodic and sensitive playing, the young musician is setting a new standard for jazz piano expression.
Sunday, August 30
Tompkins Square Park
E. 8th St. Between Aves. A & B
Cedar Walton Quartet
Cedar Walton is one of the most universally respected jazz pianists active today, having played in the bands of Lou Donaldson, Kenny Dorham, J.J. Johnson, Art Farmer, and Art Blakey, and recorded with Freddie Hubbard, John Coltrane, and Joe Henderson. As a player, Walton is a post-bopper whose solos can be pensive and exciting – often at the same time. In terms of consistency, lyricism, and tastefulness, he recalls Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan. In addition to his abilities as an instrumentalist, Walton has amassed an impressive body of original compositions. Produced in association with Jill Newman Productions.
Papo Vazquez Pirates Troubadores
Papo Vazquezâ€™s ability to fuse Afro-Caribbean rhythms, especially those from Puerto Rico and Cuba, with freer melodic and harmonic elements of progressive jazz has insured his popularity on many fronts. As a composer, Papo Vasquez showcased his talents on the soundtracks for the movies Free Enterprise, Moâ€™ Better Blues, and The Mambo Kings, as well as on recordings for Ruben Blades and Hilton Ruiz. Papo Vazquez Pirates Troubadours boasts a twisted variation on traditional themes and use terms like Jibaro Waltz, Plena Funk, Bomba Jazz, and Mapeye Jazz to help describe their music.
Singer/composer Pyeng Threadgill is making waves with her sultry voice and vivid compositions. Her third album Portholes To A Love & Other Short Stories is a group of original songs all based on short stories by world-renowned authors. From the lulling sensation of locomotion, to the secrets of the sea, to the hopeless romantic, to the immigrant experience, Pyeng uses lyrics lush in metaphor to depict a wondrous universe.
Dred Scott Trio
Dred Scott first earned his reputation as an innovative and eclectic pianist and multi-instrumentalist in San Francisco. He has recorded seven self-produced albums and has performed on over thirty-five others. Now based in New York City, Scott regularly performs with his own Dred Scott Trio, Jay Collins, Rene Risque, Carol Lipnik, Sasha Dobson, and the Bari Koral Family Band. The San Francisco Examiner calls Scott, â€œa fineâ€”in fact, magnificentâ€”pianist.â€
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