City Parks Foundation is proud to announce the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. The festival is New York City's annual salute to the legendary late saxophonist, featuring storied veteran players as well as young jazz musicians who continue to shape and drive the art form. This year's festival runs August 23 through August 27 at parks and venues around Manhattan and will include free concerts, artist discussions, a film screening, and for the first time in the festival's history, a dedicated evening of dance.
"We are thrilled to celebrate 25 years of the beloved Charlie Parker Jazz Festival," said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. "In honor of this milestone we have expanded the program to 5 days, partnered with local institutions on family jazz events and open jam sessions, and are presenting a full evening of dance on the lineup for the first time. We hope all New Yorkers, young and old, jazz aficionados and new fans alike will join us in honoring the legacy of Charlie Parker and jazz in New York City."
The festival kicks off on Wednesday, August 23 at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music with "Bird With Strings," a tribute performance featuring an ensemble of students and veteran jazz players honoring Parker's 1950 recording, Charlie Parker With Strings.
On Thursday, August 24, the festival heads uptown to Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem for Jason Samuels Smith's Chasin' The Bird Remixed, an added evening of programming in honor of the 25th Anniversary, and the first full evening of dance in the festival's history. Emmy award-winning tap dance virtuoso, Jason Samuels Smith, and Broadway veterans, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Derick K. Grant, bring Parker's music to life through dance in this special performance featuring live music.
The festival continues in Marcus Garvey Park on Friday, August 25 with world-renowned clarinet player & saxophonist Anat Cohen, who will lead a consortium of strings, horns, percussion, and keyboards with her jazz-folk troupe, and Camille Thurman, a multi-talented saxophonist, flutist and vocalist.
On Saturday afternoon, veteran alto-saxophonist player Lee Konitz, a contemporary of Charlie Parker when bebop came on the scene, will perform with his quartet in Marcus Garvey Park joined by drumming prodigy and pioneering female percussionist Terri Lyne Carrington, one of the most recorded jazz drummers of all time Louis Hayes (who has played with the likes of John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Cannonball Adderley), and rising vocalist Charenee Wade, a brave new voice on the modern jazz frontier intent on using her gift to address social change.
On Sunday, August 27, the festival travels back downtown to the place where it all began, Tompkins Square Park, home to the inaugural Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in 1993, and located just blocks away from Charlie Parker's home in the East Village. Joshua Redman, one of the most important contemporary horn players and widely considered to be the top sax man of his generation, will make his Charlie Parker Jazz Festival debut. NEA Jazz Master Lou Donaldson, revered by many as one the greatest alto saxophonists of all time; saxophone virtuosa Tia Fuller, one of the world's best jazz multi-instrumentalists, full-time professor and one-time member of the all-female band that toured with Beyoncé; and vocalist Alicia Olatuja, who performed with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir at President Obama's second inauguration and has been in high demand ever since, will also perform to close out the final day of the festival.
In honor of the 25th Anniversary, City Parks Foundation has also partnered with local institutions to present free and open-to-the-public jazz events around the city. Events include an all ages Family Jazz Party with Festival performer Charenee Wade and a "Harlem Speaks" interview with Lee Konitz at The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, a screening at The New School of the 2016 film, I Called Him Morgan, about the life and tragic death of jazz musician Lee Morgan, live jazz in the gardens at The Harlem Rose Garden and 6BC Botanical Garden, and jam sessions at Gin Fizz Harlem and Ginny's Supper Club.
The complete Charlie Parker Jazz Festival schedule follows or can be found on the City Parks Foundation website here: Charlie Parker Jazz Festival
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City Parks Foundation (CPF) is the only independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to offer programs in public parks throughout the five boroughs of New York City. At CPF, we are dedicated to invigorating and transforming parks into dynamic, vibrant centers of urban life through sports, arts, community development and education programs for all New Yorkers. Our programs and community building initiatives — located in more than 350 parks, recreation centers and public schools across New York City — reach 425,000 people each year. Our ethos is simple: we believe thriving parks mean thriving communities.