Harlem Speaks Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald May 18, 2006 at The Jazz Museum in Harlem


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The Jazz Museum in Harlem
104 East 126th Street
New York, NY 10035
212 348-8300

Harlem Speaks Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald Tribute Concert
May 18, 2006*

Arthur Barnes, Arts Advocate
May 25, 2006

Olu Dara, Cornetist/Guitarist/Singer
June 8, 2006

Hank Jones, Pianist
June 29, 2006

Ella Fitzgerald exploded onto the national stage right from the Apollo Theater into the hearts of America and the world. The Jazz Museum in Harlem All Stars, featuring vocalist Delores King-Williams, will present a concert tribute to America's First Lady of Song on Thursday, May 18th. With a repertoire reflecting both her well-known hits and many of the lesser performed masterpieces she recorded, you will not want to miss this special free live performance. When this concert tribute premiered at the Smithsonian last month, the Washington Post said, “... from the outset, Williams imbued her performances with her own personality and interpretative finesse. Most of the tunes were drawn from Fitzgerald's classic songbook collections, neatly arranged by Chris Madsen for a seven-piece ensemble. And thanks to some lesser-known ballads--'A Ship Without a Sail,' for example--the concert offered listeners more than just usual hit parade of standards."

This free concert is made possible through the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, which also provides funding for the Harmony in Harlem Youth Band (http://www.jazzmuseuminharlem.org/harmonyAPP.html). The museum thanks the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation for its general support as well.

Arthur H. Barnes has been HIP Health Plan of New York's Senior Vice President for External Affairs and Corporate Contributions since 1993, promoting the health and well-being of the diverse communities that make up New York City. Through him, HIP provides grants, scholarships, contributions, sponsorships and in-kind services to nonprofit organizations striving to improve the quality of life for NYC residents. For almost 20 years before joining HIP, Mr. Barnes was President and CEO of the New York Urban Coalition.

He is former Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Jazz and Contemporary Music Program at New School University, which makes a lot of sense, given his intimate knowledge of the music and the musicians who created it.

Born and raised in Harlem, New York City, Mr. Barnes attended the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn College. At the October 20, 2005 Harlem Speaks night, which honored Congressman Charles Rangel, Barnes joined his childhood friend on stage and recounted the swinging times of their teenage years in Harlem. His night in the Harlem Speaks spotlight is May 25, 2006.

Olu Dara (born Charles Jones III in Natchez, Mississippi in 1941) first became known as a jazz musician, playing alongside musicians such as David Murray and Henry Threadgill. He also spent a year playing with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. His unique approach to art and life will be self-evident when he joins us on June 8, 2006.

With his first album under his own name, In the World: From Natchez to New York (1998), Dara was the leader and singer of a band that played a mix of blues, folk, jazz and funk, African popular music and even reggae. Neighborhoods, with guest appearances by Dr. John and Cassandra Wilson, followed in a similar vein in 2001.

His son, rapper Nas, encouraged his father to record the music he was playing with his band, and contributed a track on In the World. In 2004, his vocals were featured on Nas's single “Bridging the Gap," from the album Street's Disciple.

One of world's greatest pianists, Hank Jones, is the special guest of Harlem Speaks on June 29, 2006. Born Henry W. Jones in 1918 in Mississippi, but raised in Pontiac, Michigan, Jones received classical piano training from Charlotte Franzell during his childhood.

By the age of 13, he was already performing with territory bands, and by 1944 he moved to New York at the recommendation of Lucky Thompson, to join the band of Hot Lips Page, with whom he made his first recordings for the Continental label.

While freelancing with Andy Kirk, Billy Eckstein, John Kirby, Coleman Hawkins and Howard McGhee, Jones developed his own style. Freely mixing the newer idioms of Bud Powell and Al Haig with that of his main mentor, Art Tatum, Jones rose quickly to the top shelf of jazz pianists.

In late 1947, he joined the Jazz at the Philharmonic, and from 1948 to 1953 he became the pianist for Ella Fitzgerald. During this period Jones also made several recordings for Norman Granz's various labels, including historical sessions with Charlie Parker and Lester Young. After leaving Ella, he formed a steady rhythm section with Barry Galbraith, Milt Hinton and Osie Johnson. This unit recorded with some of the finest talent in New York at the time, like Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, Rex Stewart and many others.

He displayed his mastery recently at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola, playing stunning duets along with tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano. Don't miss this stately gentleman of jazz on June 29th at the offices of the Jazz Museum in Harlem.

The April 27, 2006 Harlem Speaks guest, cultural historian and producer Delilah Jackson, delightfully shared memories of her youth while attending P.S. 157 in Harlem and growing up on 126th Street. She recalled seeing Ray Robinson “tap dancing in the street with Scatman Crothers," and witnessing her first show at the Apollo at the age of six. By the age of ten she was working with Butterfly McQueen at Henry Street Settlement. “She was in Gone with the Wind, and told me that Clark Gable said, 'If anyone bothers you, come tell me.'"

She spoke with a historian's precision about Count Basie sitting on the side of the Braddock Hotel in between performances at the Apollo Theater; Charlie Parker hanging out at Andy Kirk's apartment at 555 Edgecombe Avenue as well as Andy Kirk's son, a tremendous tenor saxophone talent who died too early; the role of Mafia gangsters in jazz club ownership; working with Marlon Brando at Mary Bruce's Dance Studio; Teddy Hill and his hilarious tales about a young Dizzy Gillespie; the greatest Vaudeville performer or her day, Florence Mills; and meeting Loren Schoenberg when he was a young lover of jazz at the Overseas Press Club. They didn't want to let him in. Delilah persuaded them to do so.

She was joined by many close friends (i.e., Harold Cromer and Marcia Durham, daughter of Eddie Durham) and admirers, a number of who were previous Harlem Speaks honorees: Fred Staton, Jacqui “Tajah" Murdock, Cobi Narita, Larry Ridley, Sarah McLawler, and Jean Bach, who years ago gave Ms. Jackson $400 to begin buying her collection of dance films and memorabilia.

The free bi-weekly Harlem Speaks series is produced by the Jazz Museum in Harlem's Executive Director, Loren Schoenberg, Co-Director Christian McBride, and Greg Thomas Associates. The series occurs at the offices of the Jazz Museum in Harlem, located at 104 East 126th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, from 6:30pm-8:00pm. *Location for 5/18 only: Nubian Heritage, 2037 5th Ave. between 125th/126th St., NY, NY. Harlem Speaks photo archives: http://www.jazzmuseuminharlem.org/ hs_photos.html

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz Publicity.
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