Newark’s rich jazz legacy, built on the genius of hometown artists such as Sarah Vaughan and James Moody, features major concerts, free events, WBGO’s annual Champions of Jazz gala and a free day of swing for the next generation of jazz artists and aficionados. The TD James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival is named for the revered saxophonist who helped put Newark music-making on a global stage.
Co-presented by NJPAC and WBGO Jazz88.3FM and composed of more than a dozen performances and special events citywide, the festival takes place from Nov. 4-10, opening with a free concert by the Jimmy Heath Quartet at Bethany Baptist Church. Christian McBride of Montclair, a GRAMMY-winning bassist, bandleader and composer, serves as NJPAC’s Jazz Advisor, guiding programming for over 20 NJPAC jazz events this season, including his big band, Al Jarreau, Dianne Reeves, Sérgio Mendes, Joe Lovano, Gerald Albright, Jimmy Heath, Esperanza Spalding, Geri Allen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bernie Williams, Vince Giordano and Barry Harris, among many others.
“Jazz is America’s music, and it is an honor and a privilege to present many of its greatest artists at the festival and all season long at the Arts Center,” said NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber.
Throughout the day on Saturday, Nov. 9, NJPAC’s Center for Arts Education hosts a free all-day Day of Swing – a family event where jazz aficionados of all ages are invited to participate in an exciting and fun-filled day of exploration and learning. Children and families will learn how to listen to jazz, sing the blues, improvise and distinguish what makes Latin Jazz Latin. There will be a master class with Christian McBride and R&B singer and songwriter Jeffrey Osborne and Swing Along with Bucky Pizzarelli, a conversation-performance with the legendary jazz guitarist. Kids will have the chance to participate in a spoken word “jazz slam,” showcasing their own work. Children ages 2 and up will enjoy an early entry into creative music-making with classes in “little-bopping,” while older kids can participate in Jazz House Kids’ Let’s Build a Jazz House Workshop®, and aspiring jazz musicians will delve into workshops for moderate to advanced improvisation, ensemble playing, developing one’s own voices as a musician, and jazz during the Civil Rights era. The Newark Museum will also screen the award-winning documentary The Girls in the Band.
A pair of concerts in NJPAC’s Prudential Hall are the star-studded heart and soul of the weeklong celebration. Jazz Meets Samba on Friday, Nov. 8 puts Brazilian bandleader Sérgio Mendes in the spotlight, along with all-star guests joining him: Joe Lovano, Marivaldo Dos Santos, Lee Ritenour and Eliane Elias. On Saturday, Nov. 9, McBride gathers guest artists for Sing, Swing, Sing!, a tribute to vocalists of the swing era, with the Christian McBride Big Band featuring a the top jazz vocalists around, including three-time Grammy Award-winner Dianne Reeves; seven-time Grammy Award-winner Al Jarreau, the hit-maker behind “After All,” “Moonlighting,” “We’re in This Love Together” and “So Good”; versatile, fast-rising songstress Cyrille Aimée, winner of NJPAC’s inaugural Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition; and Montclair volcalist Melissa Walker. Rounding out the bill are jazz marvels Jeffrey Osborne and Gerald Albright.
Free programs in and around Newark, including events at the Newark Museum, WBGO Jazz 88.3, Gateway Center, Bethany Baptist Church and area jazz clubs Shanghai Jazz, Trumpets Jazz Club and Restaurant, and the New Brunswick Jazz project, will complement the festival’s lineup.
The TD James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival’s title sponsor is TD Bank – America’s Most Convenient Bank®. It is sponsored, in part, by The Prudential Foundation, The PSEG Foundation, Audible.com, JAZZ ROOTS and Jazz Education Network (JEN). This performance is also made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and by Discover Jersey Arts.
The full schedule follows:
- On Nov. 4 at 7 p.m., saxophonist, composer and NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath brings his quartet to Newark’s Bethany Baptist Church, 275 W. Market St. The event also acknowledges the church’s year-round Jazz Vespers program, curated by WBGO personality Dorthaan Kirk. Admission to An Evening with Jimmy Heath is free.
- On Nov. 5 at 7pm avant-garde composer and trombonist Craig Harris will perform the world premiere of a full length NJPAC-commissioned work entitled “Keep Your Razor Sharp,” inspired by Blues People: Negro Music in White America, Amiri Baraka’s highly influential literary exploration of African-American music. The performance takes place at A Celebration of Amiri Baraka’s “Blues People” at 50. Baraka, Newark’s famed author, poet and activist, will lead a conversation tracing the impact of jazz and blues on our culture and history. “Keep Your Razor Sharp” celebrates the main topic of the book: the blues continuum, presenting a musical journey from the Malian deltas to the Mississippi deltas and from the rural plantations to the urban projects. The piece is comprised of music composed by Harris, themes from Blues People and poetry from one of Baraka’s other writings, Wise, Why’s, Y’s: The Griot’s Song Djeli Ya. The free event will take place at the Newark Museum, 49 Washington Street.
- On Nov. 6 at noon, the Dave Stryker Organ Trio gives a free concert, sponsored by WBGO at Newark’s Gateway Center, between Raymond Boulevard and Market Street.
- On Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m., WBGO holds its annual fund-raising gala, Champions of Jazz, in Prudential Hall. This year’s honorees are the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and the station’s President and CEO, Cephas Bowles. Thirty-four years of jazz broadcasting is celebrated with music by Christian McBride & Inside Straight, Kenny Barron, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Gretchen Parlato, Ray Vega and Michael Wolff & Mike Clark and Melissa Aldana, followed by Felix Hernandez’s Rhythm Revue Dance Party.
- On Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m., Newark native Lorraine Gordon, owner of the legendary nightspot the Village Vanguard, is the subject of a jazz tribute, A Good Place: Celebrating Lorraine Gordon and the Village Vanguard. Joining in the all-star salute in the Victoria Theater are the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and special guests Christian McBride, NEA Jazz Master and pianist Barry Harris, organist Rhoda Scott, and clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen and her quartet. For this special evening, East Orange’s NEA Jazz Master and GRAMMY-winner Slide Hampton wrote a new arrangement of James Moody’s “Last Train From Overbrook.”
- On Nov. 8 at 8 p.m., Jazz Meets Samba headlines two multi-talented Brazilian pianists and singers: the hit-making Sérgio Mendes, one of the original bossa nova pianists, and scintillating pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias. Also on the bill are guitarist Lee Ritenour, percussionist Marivaldo Dos Santos and special guest saxophonist Joe Lovano.
- On Nov. 9 at 10 a.m., a free Day of Swing is open to families and children of all ages at NJPAC’s Center for Arts Education. This fun-filled day of jazz exploration, presented in partnership with the jazz education nonprofit Jazz House Kids of Montclair, includes workshops in improvisation, swing dancing and rhythmic storytelling; a screening of the award-winning documentary The Girls in the Band; a master class with Christian McBride and R&B singer and songwriter Jeffrey Osborne, and Swing Along with Bucky Pizzarelli, a conversation-performance with the legendary jazz guitarist.
- On Nov. 9 at 2 p.m., Portrait of Duke, led by journalist and playwright Terry Teachout (author of the new biography Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington), is a conversation about the great bandleader, including a panel discussion in the Victoria Theater. Musical selections from the 1920s-1950s, by Ellington and his chief collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, will be performed by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, an 11-piece band expanded to 17 pieces to authentically replicate Ellington’s latter-day sound. Giordano is the GRAMMY-winning musical director for the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
- On Nov. 9 at 8 p.m., Sing, Swing, Sing! showcases the Christian McBride Big Band with jazz vocalist Melissa Walker and a stellar gathering of singers: Dianne Reeves, Al Jarreau, Jeffrey Osborne and Cyrille Aimée. Sharing the program is acclaimed alto saxophonist Gerald Albright. “One of the main things we’re trying to show in this concert is the idea that the big band swing tradition always included singers,” says McBride. The performance will also pay tribute to the late keyboardist, composer and singer George Duke, who was originally scheduled to appear.
- On Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Dorthaan’s Place, a Sunday jazz brunch series held at NICO Kitchen + Bar at NJPAC, opens with New Jersey saxophone and clarinet virtuoso Paquito D’Rivera and his quartet. Hosted by Dorthaan Kirk, WBGO’s special events coordinator and Newark’s “First Lady of Jazz,” the series continues through April with five additional concerts, featuring such artists as drummer Cecil Brooks III, trombonist Steve Turre, trumpeter Jon Faddis and singer Antoinette Montague.
- On Nov. 10 at 3 p.m., the second annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in the Victoria Theater is the place to hear five talented women compete for the “Sassy Award” and its $5,000 prize. The event, hosted by WBGO’s Rhonda Hamilton, is a 21st century version of the amateur night at the Apollo Theater that helped launch the career of Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan – a teenager from Newark – more than 70 years ago. This year’s finalists are Teira Church of Los Angeles, Lydia Harrell of Boston, Barbra Lica of Toronto and Camille Thurman and Jazzmeia Horn, both of New York City. A panel of guest judges includes singers Al Jarreau, Janis Siegel and Gretchen Parlato, JAZZ ROOTS producer Larry Rosen and WBGO’s Gary Walker. Kate Davis, an outstanding young vocalist from New York City, is the recipient of the Rising Star award.
The music and memories of last year’s Moody Festival are chronicled in a free display of large-format photographs and colorful murals by Tony Graves and George Wirt in WBGO’s lobby, 54 Park Place, Newark. Images depict the 10th anniversary gala of Jazz House Kids with Pat Matheny, Angélique Kidjo and actress S. Epatha Merkerson, several jazz all-star concerts, and the launch of Dorthaan’s Place, a series of Sunday jazz brunches at NICO Kitchen + Bar at NJPAC. The exhibit is open through Dec. 31 during business hours.
Other Jazz Clubs
NJPAC has partnered with New Jersey jazz clubs Shanghai Jazz in Madison, Trumpets Jazz Club & Restaurant in Montclair, The Priory, Bethany Baptist Church Jazz Vespers in Newark and the New Brunswick Jazz Project to kick off the festival around the area the weekend before it opens.
- On Nov. 1, New Brunswick Groove Fusion will play at The New Brunswick Jazz Project, Nicki Denner brings her trio to Shanghai Jazz for Shades of Buena Vista Social Club, the Kate Baker Quartet featuring Vic Juris takes the stage at Trumpets and Jan Carden will play at The Priory.
- On Nov. 2, Victor Jones Orchestrio headlines a WBGO Kids Jazz Series performance at Clinton Elementary School, cellist Akua Dixon performs at Bethany Baptist Church Jazz Vesper Series, multi-GRAMMY-winning pianist Helio Alves and his trio perform at Shanghai Jazz, and Mel Davis & Friends perform at Trumpets.
- On Nov. 3, vocalist Alison Kurtz and guitarist Arturo Trio will perform at Shanghai Jazz as well.
Information about each of these events is on the club’s website and at www.njpac.org/Moody
All free concerts are on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets for all other festival performances are available now and may be purchased by telephone at 1-888-GO-NJPAC (466-5722), at the NJPAC Box Office, One Center St., Newark (open Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.) or online at www.njpac.org.
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