The 22nd Annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival | Aug. 20th-23rd, 2015

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Charlie Parker Jazz Fest - 2015

City Parks Foundation Presents
August 21-23

New York, NY – City Parks Foundation is proud to announce the 22nd edition of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, made possible with the generous support of the Dalio Foundation. Founded in memoriam of beloved jazz musician Charlie Parker, this festival annually attracts thousands of fans to two historic parks in Manhattan. The festival will kick off the first of its three days on August 21st in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, blocks from the famous jazz clubs where Parker graced the stage, and move to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village on Sunday, just across the street from the late Parker’s apartment.

Prior to the launch of the festival, we invite fans to participate in a free panel hosted at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music celebrating the musical legacy of Charlie Parker featuring two musicians participating in the shows, Oliver Lake and Rudresh Mahanthappa.

In the words of Miles Davis, “You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.” Almost sixty years after his passing, Parker is celebrated and credited for his contribution to modern music through rhythmically and melodically complex solos and his creation of the bebop sound. The acts in this year’s festival will offer a wide range of performances reflective of Parker’s music and of the ever-changing genre of jazz. From Dr. Lonnie Smith to Myra Melford, this year’s lineup will feature both jazz veterans and up-and-coming stars alike.

Come join us to celebrate Charlie Parker’s legacy – both to New York City and to the world of jazz.

The complete Charlie Parker Jazz Festival schedule follows. For up-to-date scheduling and lineup for all SummerStage programming, follow SummerStage via the links below and

Twitter: @SummerStage
Instagram: @summerstage









Aug 20

6:30 PM

Panel: “In The Spirit – Dedicated to Bird”

Panel: “Bird Calls”

The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music




Aug 21

6:00 PM

Oliver Lake Big Band / King Solomon Hicks in association with Jazzmobile / Michela Taps, Bird Lives!

Marcus Garvey Park




Aug 22

3:00 PM

Dr Lonnie Smith / Andy Bey / Jeff “Tain” Watts / Camille Thurman

Marcus Garvey Park




Aug 23

3:00 PM

Joe Lovano / Rudresh Mahanthappa: Bird Calls / Myra Melford / Michael Mwenso

Tompkins Square Park




Thursday, August 20
“In The Spirit – Dedicated to Bird” & “Bird Calls”:
A conversation with Oliver Lake & Rudresh Mahanthappa
The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music’s
Jazz Performance Space, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
In celebration of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, join Oliver Lake and Rudresh Mahanthappa for a discussion on music and culture that has inspired them..

Oliver Lake is an American jazz saxophonist, flutist, composer and poet, and worked with the Black Artists Group in the 1960s. Rudresh Mahanthappa saxophonist and composer who has hybridizes progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid and forward-looking form that reflects Mahanthappa’s own experience growing up a second-generation Indian-American.

Q & A to follow. Space is limited so please rsvp to to reserve a seat. Seating is first come, first served.

Friday, August 21
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival: Oliver Lake Big Band / King Solomon Hicks in association with Jazzmobile / Michela Taps, Bird Lives!
Marcus Garvey Park, MN
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
For the past decade, Oliver Lake’s Big Band has served as one of his greatest achievements and most sophisticated compositional outlets. He is currently celebrating the second recorded release of his Big Band, entitled Wheels, which has been met with widespread critical acclaim. Lake attributes much of his diverse array of musical styles and disciplines to his experience with the Black Artists Group (BAG), the legendary multi-disciplined and innovative St. Louis collective he co-founded with poets Ajule Rutlin, and musicians Julius Hemphill and Floyd La Flore over 35 years ago. As a co-founder of the internationally acclaimed World Saxophone Quartet with Hemphill, Hamiet Bluiett and David Murray, Oliver continues to work with a variety of groups, and collaborates with several notable choreographers, poets and a veritable who’s who of the progressive jazz scene, performing all over the U.S., Europe, Japan, the Middle East, Africa and Australia. In addition to his musical endeavors, Oliver is also an accomplished poet, painter and performance artist.

Michela Marino Lerman is a star in the tap dance community. Born and raised in NYC and mentored by Buster Brown, Gregory Hines, Leroy Myers and Marion Coles, Lerman performs regularly at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Minton’s, Smalls (where she also runs the first and only acclaimed weekly tap jam) and countless other NYC jazz venues. Lerman has danced with musical greats such as Barry Harris, Benny Golson, Roy Haynes, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Harry Whitaker, Marcus Strickland, Ravi Coltrane, Reggie Workman, Revive the Live Big Band, Jon Batiste, Johnny O’Neal, Jennifer Holliday, and many more.

In recent years, Lerman has performed and taught in Brazil, Canada, Italy, Korea, Peru, Spain, and Sweden as well as at U.S. venues throughout the East, South, Midwest, and West Coast. Recognizing that tap and bebop share the same historic language of rhythm, she has dedicated herself to accentuating the bonds between them. Lerman is honored to perform at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival this summer. “He was such an innovator and a driving force in this music, as well as an important influence on tap. We hope to contribute, in some way, to his tremendous legacy.”

Saturday, August 22
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival: Dr. Lonnie Smith / Andy Bey / Jeff “Tain” Watts / Camille Thurman / Norma Miller / Master Class: Samuel Coleman
Marcus Garvey Park, MN
3:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Dr. Lonnie Smith is an unparalleled musician, composer, performer and recording artist. An authentic master and guru of the Hammond B-3 organ for over five decades, he has been featured on over seventy albums, and has recorded and performed with a virtual “Who’s Who” of the greatest jazz, blues and R&B giants in the industry. Consequently, he has often been hailed as a “Legend,” a “Living Musical Icon,” and as the most creative jazz organist by a slew of music publications. Jazz Times magazine describes him as “a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a turban!” His unpredictable, insatiable musical taste illustrates that no genre is safe, as Lonnie has recorded everything from covers of the Beatles, the Stylistics and the Eurythmics, to tribute albums of Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane and Beck–all by employing ensembles ranging from a trio to a fifteen-piece big band. Always ahead of the curve, it is no surprise Dr. Smith’s fan-base is truly worldwide.

Andy Bey’s silky baritone has become one of the finest instruments in jazz, resonating through decades of American standards. A lyrical storyteller, he possesses “a film noir voice: languid, mysterious, and surpassingly beautiful” (The New York Times). Bay’s four-octave range starts at a low C and he is virtually alone today in his ability to summon the deep, manly burnish of some of the great band baritones, like Billy Eckstine. But singing softly seems to be his comfort zone now, and his voice often has a kind of musical iridescence, slipping between croon and falsetto. He extends a word by letting the tone trail off in a long exhalation or through a springy vibrato that shakes all the accumulated meaning from a phrase built up by years of interpretation.Though well known and respected among musicians, Andy Bey was not all that well represented on records until 1996’s “Ballads, Blues and Bey,” at that time his first solo recording in 22 years. He feels that his obscurity is partly due to not going along with what he calls the ”black male singer syndrome” — record producers and club owners expecting him to sing nothing but the blues, and he explains, he holds a de facto role as a natural outsider in jazz. Bey’s roots are in the era before categories.

Jeff Watts, the drummer they call “Tain,” spent his formative years with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and his compositional skills now command equal attention. Jeff initially majored in classical percussion at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University, where he was primarily a timpanist, followed by enrollment at the Berklee School of Music. Jeff joined the Wynton Marsalis Quartet in 1981 and proceeded to win three Grammy Awards with the ensemble for Black Codes From The Underground, J Mood and Marsalis Standard Time – Volume 1. Watts left Wynton Marsalis in 1988. After working with George Benson, Harry Connick. Jr. and McCoy Tyner, he joined the Branford Marsalis Quartet in 1989, winning Grammy’s for I Heard You Twice the First Time and Contemporary Jazz. In the film and television industry Jeff has appeared as both a musician on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and as an actor, Rhythm Jones in Spike Lee’s “Mo Better Blues”. Jeff joined Kenny Garrett’s band after returning to New York in 1995 and continued to record and tour with Branford Marsalis as well as Danilo Perez, Michael Brecker, Betty Carter, Kenny Kirkland, Courtney Pine, Geri Allen, Alice Coltrane, Greg Osby, McCoy Tyner, Steve Coleman, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Harry Connick Jr, and Ravi Coltrane.

Camille Thurman, multi-talented saxophonist, flutist, vocalist, composer and educator is a young musician emerging on the horizon, acquiring an impressive list of accomplishments that extend well beyond her years. Her lush, velvety, rich & warm sound on the tenor saxophone has eluded others to compare her sound to the likeness of tenor greats Gene Ammons, Dexter Gordon and Lester Young to name a few. Camille’s ability to sing 4 octaves and perform vocalese has given her the capability to influence audiences with melodies reminiscent to the sounds of Minnie Riperton, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Her ability to take the sounds evocative of yesteryear’s legends and creatively pair them with the nuances, edge ad freshness of today’s music has not only expanded the possibilities of jazz in the upcoming generation but also gained her the respect of audiences in Israel, Switzerland and around the world.

Norma Miller is one of the creators of the acrobatic style of swing dancing known as the Lindy Hop. As a child, she watched the dancers at the legendary Savoy Ballroom perched on the fire escape outside her mother’s Harlem apartment. When she was 12, she was “discovered” dancing outside the Savoy, and in 1934 was invited to join Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, soon to make an extended tour of Europe. Upon her return, she appeared in the Marx Brothers’ movie A Day at the Races (1937), and from 1937 to 1940 Miller performed with Ethel Waters. Pursuing a career in both dance and comedy, she began working with comedian Redd Foxx in 1963 and later joined him on the 1970’s television series Sanford and Son serving as both a stand-up comic and choreographer. In addition to a rich and long career as a dancer, Miller has become a seminal historian of swing dance. Her biography, Swingin’ at the Savoy: A Memoir of a Jazz Dancer, documents the swing dance era, and her recollections on Ken Burns’s Jazz documentaries provided a first-hand account of the Harlem music and dance scene. She has taught swing dance, including master classes at Stanford University and the University of Hawaii, and has choreographed dance scenes in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and Debbie Allen’s Stompin’ at the Savoy.

Samuel Coleman is an Alvin Ailey School trained dancer and teacher, with a focus on lindy hop (swing) dancing. Coleman teaches in Harlem and Albany, and performs with the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers and the Rhythm Stompers. Coleman was a 2011 Frankie Manning Ambassador scholarship recipient.

Sunday, August 23
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival: Joe Lovano / Rudresh Mahanthappa: Bird Calls / Myra Melford / Michael Mwenso
Tompkins Square Park, MN
3:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Grammy-winning saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano stands alone at the vanguard of large and small group jazz. In 2015 alone, two major ensembles will be on display: Joe Lovano’s Village Rhythms Band – a natural extension of the tenor giant’s evolving body of work where West African influences and party atmospheres connect New York City and Lagos, and the acclaimed Wayne Shorter-influenced Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas Quintet: Sound Prints. From his Grammy-nominated symphonic work to his role as Gary Burton Chair of Jazz Performance at Berklee College of Music, the Cleveland native fearlessly challenges and pushes his conceptual and thematic ventures in a quest for new modes of artistic expression and new ways to define the jazz idiom. In 2014 Lovano won awards for Multi-reeds Player and Tenor Saxophonist of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association and Tenor Saxophonist of the Year from Down Beat Magazine. He has released 23 celebrated albums on the Blue Note label; with the last three focusing on his quintet Us Five.

Few musicians share the ability of alto saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa to embody the expansive possibilities of his music with his culture. What has materialized is a sound that hybridizes progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid and forward-looking form that reflects Mahanthappa’s own experience growing up a second-generation Indian-American. The current manifestations of that trajectory include his latest project Bird Calls, which issued its first release in February 2015. Mahanthappa has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and numerous commissions. He has been named alto saxophonist of the year for three years running in Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics Polls and for five years running by the Jazz Journalists’ Association. In April 2013, he received a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, one of the most prominent arts awards in the world.

Pianist, composer and Guggenheim fellow Myra Melford draws inspiration from a vast spectrum of cultural and spiritual traditions and artistic disciplines. In 2013, she released her first solo recording, Life Carries Me This Way and premiered Language of Dreams, her most ambitious project to date, combining narration, dance, and video with music for her quintet, Snowy Egret, which has a new release out in March 2015 (Enja/Yellowbird). Melford also performs in the collective Trio M with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson, and the duo, Dialogue, with clarinetist Ben Goldberg. In 2013, Melford was named a Guggenheim Fellow and received both the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and a Doris Duke Residency to Build Demand for the Arts at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where she was the Artistic Director of the New Frequencies Fest:Jazz@YBCA in February 2015. She won the 2012 Alpert Award in the Arts for Music and has been honored numerous times in DownBeat’s Critics Poll.

Jazz vocalist and bandleader Michael Mwenso is a fixture of the Uptown jazz scene but is making his way downtown with his signature style and vocal chops. From a young age, the Sierra Leone-born singer has held his own with artists like James Brown in addition to playing and leading his own bands around the world. In 2010, Mwenso, personally invited by Wynton Marsalis, joined the programming team at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where he now heads the After-Hours program at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Mwenso has performed with Jon Hendricks, Jamie Cullum, Reginald Veal, Maceo Parker, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Marsalis and more.

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