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Charlie Parker Jazz Festival at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem


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There comes a moment during all the Charlie Parker Jazz Festivals I have seen in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem when the crowd decides it is truly happy, and pockets of excitement form like chemical reactions onstage and in the audience. The crowd tends to be middle-aged or older — wise, skeptical, funny, good at staging an outburst.

It happened this summer at around 5:30 on Saturday afternoon during a set by the singer Rene Marie. We’d seen Erimaj, a changeable, still-evolving band led by the drummer Jamire Williams that crosses up about 40 years of pop and jazz in good ways. It can sound like Stevie Wonder’s 1970s band jamming on new-jazz harmonies with Spoon. (Its new album is “Conflict of a Man.”) And then the bassist Derrick Hodge, leading a band including the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, playing tight virtuosic funk and gospel.

Ms. Marie has a smart, clear voice; she pushes her principles to the front of her work and playfully demands respect. Early on she sang “This for Joe,” defending the right to sing her own songs. But then she sang older songs, and when she and her band elaborated on “Them There Eyes,” the older couples began to come to the front and dance, interpreting the flow of the music. The energy settled around one particular pair of dancers, and every time they developed a new move, the crowd roared.



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