City Parks Foundation proudly announces the 21st edition of the beloved late summer jazz favorite, the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. In the world of modern music, few figures loom as large or cast as long a shadow as saxophonist Charlie Parker, best known as “Bird” (short for “Yardbird”) to generations of musicians. He was born in 1920, and almost sixty years since his death in 1955, he is universally celebrated for single-handedly inventing bebop and bringing jazz into the modern era.
The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival is an annual salute to the legendary saxophonist. City Parks Foundation is proud to produce this historic festival, and for the second year will have an expanded schedule featuring contemporaries of Charlie Parker as well as up and coming jazz musicians that continue to shape and drive the art form.
This year’s festivities will begin at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music’s Jazz Performance Space with screenings of two films important to jazz culture – “Beacons of Jazz” and “Girls in the Band.”
An interactive family Jazz concert will kick off the festival’s highlight: 3 days of brilliant jazz performances in the park, including the world premiere of a newly re-commissioned “Bird is the Word.” The original piece was commissioned by the festival in 2004, and now nearly 10 years later returns reworked for and performed by Jimmy Heath and his Big Band.
This year the festival falls just days before Parker’s birthday, with performances uptown on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon in historic Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park (in the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater), blocks from the clubs in which bebop was born; and downtown on Sunday afternoon in Tompkins Square Park, across the street from the apartment that Parker called home.
Join us to learn something new about Bird, listen to artists you love, discover some new favorites, and reconnect with old friends- but most of all to ENJOY the enduring legacy of Charlie Parker and jazz in New York City.
The complete Charlie Parker Jazz Festival schedule follows. For the most up-to-date scheduling and line-up for all SummerStage programming, follow SummerStage via the below links and visit www.SummerStage.org for festival information.
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival Lineup
Wednesday, August 21
Screening: “Beacons of Jazz”, 6:30 PM –8:30 PM, The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music’s Jazz Performance Space, 55 W. 13th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, 5th floor
Beginning in 1986, The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music has annually recognized jazz musicians and others who have “significantly contributed to the evolution of American music culture” with the Beacons in Jazz award. Recipients include Milt Hinton, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Joe Williams, Benny Carter, Max Roach, Chico Hamilton, and George and Joyce Wein. These gala events were attended by many musical luminaries and special guests, and prominently featured memorable performances by jazz legends.
In 1993, Cab Calloway was the recipient of the Beacons Award, and the evening’s festivities were filmed for posterity. Hosted by Bill Cosby, Donald Byrd and Milt Hinton were also present and captured live in-performance. Now, for the first time ever, the footage from this historic concert will finally be screened. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to view this fascinating piece of jazz history. Free. Seating is first-come, first-served.
Thursday, August 22
Screening & Conversation: “The Girls in the Band”, 6:30 – 9 PM, The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music’s Jazz Performance Space, 55 W. 13th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, 5th floor
“The Girls in the Band” tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists and their fascinating, groundbreaking journeys from the late 30’s to the present day. These incredibly talented women endured sexism, racism and diminished opportunities for decades, yet continue today to persevere, inspire and elevate their talents in a field that seldom welcomed them.
Conversation with: Sheila Jordan, Kim Thompson, and other special guests from the film. Moderated by Dr. Lara Pellegrini
Following the screening, Sheila Jordan and Kim Thompson, along with special guest panelists, will join Dr. Lara Pellegrini in a discussion about women in jazz and share their take on woman’s historic roles both in front and behind the scenes in the jazz world. Free. Seating is first-come, first-served.
Friday, August 23
Family Jazz Concert featuring Matt Wilson, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music’s Jazz Performance Space, 55 W. 13th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, 5th floor
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival & The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music invite you to a free interactive concert for families with children ages 8 months - 5 years. Bring your kids to this fun introduction to jazz music!
New York based drummer and Grammy nominee Matt Wilson is one of todays most celebrated jazz artists. He is universally recognized for his musical and melodic drumming style as well as being a gifted composer, bandleader, producer, and teaching artist. Matt’s positive energy, sense of humor and ability to explore a broad range of musical settings keeps him in constant demand. In addition, Wilson’s dedication to jazz has helped establish him as a beloved world ambassador for the music, on and off the bandstand.
Free. Seating is first-come, first-served.
Friday, August 23
World Premiere of “Bird is the Word” by Jimmy Heath, performed by Jimmy Heath Big Band, 7:00 – 9:00 PM, Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem (Mount Morris Park West at West 122nd Street)
This exceptional night celebrates Charlie Parker’s historic compositions and will feature a newly updated version of the 2004 commissioned work, “Bird is The Word” performed by jazz legend, Jimmy Heath and the Jimmy Heath Big Band in addition to Heath’s special arrangements of Parker’s classic works. Jimmy Heath has long been recognized as a brilliant saxophonist, magnificent composer and arranger. He has performed with nearly all the jazz greats of the past fifty years, including Charlie Parker himself, Howard McGhee, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Wynton Marsalis. Heath has written more than 125 compositions, many of which have become jazz standards. During his career, he has performed on more than 100 recordings, including the most recent live big band CD “Togetherness” Live at the Blue Note on Jazz Legacy Productions. In 2003, Heath was the recipient of the NEA Jazz Master Award. Free. Seating is first-come, first-served.
Saturday, August 24
Kenny Garrett / Cécile McLorin Salvant / Kim Thompson / Jaleel Shaw, 3:00 – 7:00 PM, Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem (Mount Morris Park West at West 122nd Street)
Over the course of a stellar career that has spanned more than 30 years, saxophonist Kenny Garrett has become the preeminent alto saxophonist of his generation. Garrett has always brought a vigorous yet melodic, and truly distinctive, alto saxophone sound to each musical situation. Garret’s latest album, Seeds from the Underground, is a powerful return for Garrett to the straight-ahead, acoustic and propulsive quartet format that showcases Garrett’s extraordinary abilities. The Boston Globe raved of Garret’s work saying he has a “generous, enthusiastic playing style that makes him a concert favorite, he has become a quintessential jazz musician who will take on any challenge, and make the result sound good.”
Among many other awards, Garret is currently nominated for 2 GRAMMY Awards as well as an NAACP Image Award. Cecile McLorin Salvant’s unique interpretations of unknown and scarcely recorded jazz and blues compositions have helped her win the coveted Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010. She focuses on a theatrical portrayal of the Jazz standard and composes music and lyrics which she also sings in French, her native language as well as in Spanish. Stephen Holden of The New York Times describes: “Ms. Salvant has it all: perfect pitch and enunciation, a playful sense of humor, a rich and varied tonal palette, a supple sense of swing, exquisite taste in songs and phrasing, and a deep connection to lyrics.” Salvant’s official debut, WomanChild, was released in the U.S. in May, 2013.
World-renowned drummer Kim Thompson has taught and performed in over 33 countries, in addition to playing locally in many New York City’s most prestigious jazz clubs. With many music credits to her name, including being a part of Beyoncé’s all female band; Thompson has become the CEO of her own music production company, KT Music Productions. Thompson has also collaborated with Mike Stern in the album, Who Let The Cats Out?, which was nominated for a 2006 GRAMMY Award. In 2010, Thompson released her debut album, Like Clockwork, which features 33 songs written and produced by the drummer herself.
Alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw has quickly risen to become one of the premiere Jazz musicians today. The New York Times says Mr.Shaw’s music showcases his “stout, self-assured alto saxophone playing and his smartly conceived original compositions, without the taint of commercial pressure.” In 2005, Shaw joined world renowned drummer Roy Haynes’ Quartet and recorded the GRAMMY Nominated CD, Whereas. In 2008, Jaleel was nominated as one of the Up and Coming Jazz Musicians of the year by the Jazz Journalist Association. Shaw has also received two ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards, and in March, 2013, Shaw released his newest album, The Soundtrack of Things to Come.
Free. Seating is first-come, first-served.
Sunday, August 25
Lee Konitz Quartet/ Sheila Jordan / Christian Scott / Aaron Diehl Quartet, 3:00 – 7:00 PM, Tompkins Square Park, East Village (East 7th Street between Avenues A and B)
Alto Saxophonist Lee Konitz has enjoyed one of the most creative and prolific careers in modern jazz. While remaining on the cutting edge of improvisation, Konitz has had the opportunity to lead several groups that has included the “who’s who” of the jazz world. The New York Times declares Konitz “is able to erase context and preconceptions, and more or less blow your mind.” Konitz was awarded the NEA Jazz Master Award in 2009, voted “Alto Saxophonist of the Year” by Downbeat Magazine’s “Critics Poll” in 2010, and will also be recognized with the Germany Jazz Price Award in 2013. At a young 85 years old, Konitz is still selling out concerts all around the world as he continues showcase his unique, rhythmic style.
Sheila Jordan, an American singer and songwriter, has been a student of Jazz her whole life and has become one of the most respected musicians around. Jordan’s first great influence and mentor was Charlie Parker. Jazz Times describes Jordan as “a one-of-a-kind artist who possesses the power to captivate audiences, inviting all to join her on a magical mystery tour of jazz history.” In 2012, Jordan accepted the NEA Jazz Masters Award, which was given to her because of her lifelong commitment to Jazz and its teachings. Jordan has received several other honors, including the 2008 Mary Lou Williams Award for a Lifetime of Service to Jazz. In 2012, she released her latest album, Yesterdays, which blends imaginative music making and deeply felt, richly emotional story telling.
At a young age, trumpeter Christian Scott launched a music career that has positioned him as one of the great innovators of his generation. In 2006, Scott released Rewind That, which was a mixture of modern Jazz, Rock and R&B and garnered both criticism and praise – but ultimately a GRAMMY nomination. Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, Scott’s 2010 release, reflects the legacy of some of his musical heroes of the 1960s, and at the same time wields the music as a tool to address some of the very important issues of contemporary culture. Scott’s most recent album, Christian aTunde Adjuah, was released in 2012 and allmusic says it “creates a seamless, holistic 21st century jazz that confidently points toward new harmonic horizons.”
Aaron Diehl is the 2011 Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz of the American Pianists Association. Hailed by The New York Times as a “Revelation,” and the Chicago Tribune as “The most promising discovery that [Wynton] Marsalis has made since Eric Reed,” Aaron Diehl’s distinctive interpretations of the music of Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, and other masters pays homage to the tradition while establishing his own original voice. Diehl has performed with the Wynton Marsalis Septet, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Benny Golson, Hank Jones, Wycliffe Gordon, and has been featured on Marian McPartland’s NPR radio show Piano Jazz. His latest trio CD is entitled Live at the Players. Free. Seating is first-come, first-served.
About the Jazz Foundation of America
For 23 years, the Jazz Foundation has kept Jazz and Blues alive. We are the only national organization dedicated to saving the lives and homes of elder Jazz and Blues musicians in crisis – musicians who have made our world richer through their music. JFA has grown to support over 6,000 cases a year with emergency assistance and work opportunities. Every day, we help clients in need who often have nowhere else to turn: our Emergency Assistance program keeps the electricity on, the rent or mortgage paid, and food on the table, in addition to providing counseling and referrals for pro bono services. We help to reestablish a musician’s sense of dignity and purpose through performance opportunities with our Agnes Varis Jazz in the Schools program which brings music to schools, nursing homes, hospitals and other venues throughout the country. We also save lives through our partnership with Englewood Hospital and Medical Center doctors and staff who have been serving JFA clients for 18 years. With this network of caring professionals, JFA social workers provide crucial services that keep many of these accomplished music veterans alive and productive, doing what they love to do – make music.
About The New School
The New School, a leading progressive university in New York City, was founded in 1919 as a center of intellectual and artistic freedom. Today The New School is still in the vanguard of innovation and experimentation in higher education, with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students in design and the social sciences, the humanities, management, and the performing arts and thousands of adult learners in continuing education courses. Committed to public engagement, The New School welcomes thousands of New Yorkers yearly to its celebrated public programs and maintains a global presence through its online learning programs, research institutes, and international partnerships.