Jazzmobile, which presents New York’s oldest continuous summer Jazz festival reaching approximately 100,000 annually, will kick off its 2009 summer season with a three-borough concert tour, featuring jazz great Randy Weston, on Sunday, June 21.
The performances, are part of the Make Music New York Festival, a free day of outdoor concerts throughout the five boroughs held each year to mark the first day of summer. The esteemed Harlem institution, which has been bringing its special brand of summer mobile concerts to the parks and streets of New York since 1964, is celebrating its 45th anniversary during Summerfest with headliners like Frank Wess, the Frank Foster Big Band, Wycliffe Gordon, Houston Person, Jimmy Heath, the Arturo O’Farrill Big Band, Eunice Newkirk, Lou Donaldson, Bobby Sanabria, Vanessa Rubin, Jeremy Pelt, the Jazzmobile Allstars with Cecil Bridgewater and The Duke Ellington Legacy Band, featuring Edward Ellington II.
The launch consists of the legendary jazz pianist Randy Weston performing a tribute in honor of the late Ghanaian drummer Kofi Ghanaba with an outdoor concert in partnership with the Jazz Gallery outside their location in SoHo at 3:30 p.m., as well as concerts by the Jose Obando Trio at the Bronx Museum of Art at 3:00 p.m. and saxophonist Lily White in the Flushing Town Hall Gardens at 4:00 p.m. Jazzmobile’s June 21 concerts herald its Summerfest, which begins on July 7 at Carl Schurz Park with a performance by Winard Harper and the Dion Parson 21st Century Band, with special guest appearance by Dr. Billy Taylor. Taylor’s last major concert on the Jazzmobile float was a performance with Duke Ellington. The June 21 performances are also in celebration of “Juneteenth,” (Galveston, Texas: June 19, 1865) the day when word was received that the Civil War had ended and that President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation speech freeing all slaves.
Beginning on July 8 and continuing through August 28, popular Jazzmobile performers will take to the stage each Wednesday and Friday night at 7:00 p.m. at Grant’s Tomb and Marcus Garvey Park respectively. Throughout the week, the group swings into the neighborhoods of New York, bringing with it some of the hottest names in Jazz.
“As the longest-running major Jazz festival in New York City, Jazzmobile is both proud and thankful to the musicians, our board members, the Jazzmobile team, our sponsors and the great citizens of New York, who have invested their time and support over the years,” said Jazzmobile President and CEO Robin Bell-Stevens. “Your dedication has inspired us to hold an 18-month celebration of this important milestone, our 45th Anniversary.”
This summer Jazzmobile will present two festivals, the Harlem International Jazz Festival (HIJF), celebrating international Jazz artists at venues across Harlem, and its annual Summerfest, a Big Apple tradition. Highlights include Great Jazz on the Great Hill, Jazzmobile’s summer concert in Central Park (July 11) and the popular Jazzmobile Jazz Vocal Competition (July 27) at the legendary Alhambra Ballroom, which crowns one singer the “best of the best” of jazz vocalists. During the annual Harlem Week celebration, the group will be featured at several performances during July and August.
Jazzmobile thanks Governor David A. Paterson and the New York State Council on the Arts, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and its lead sponsors the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corp. (UMEZ) and Chase Bank.
About Jazzmobile, Inc.:
Jazzmobile, Inc., the oldest not for profit arts organization created just for jazz in the country, was founded in 1964 by jazz master Dr. Billy Taylor and Daphne Arnstein. Its mission is to present, preserve, promote, and propagate Jazz – “America’s classical music.” This mission is implemented through quality jazz education and performance programs: workshops, master classes, lecture demonstrations, arts enrichment programs, as well as out-of-doors mobile Jazz performances and those in clubs and major concert halls here and abroad. Jazzmobile, www.jazzmobile.org, serves approximately 100,000 people in New York City and its outlying areas each year.