Satchmo in the Studio

April 30, 2018 | 6:30pm – 8:30pm

On International Jazz Day 2018, The Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Museum of the City of New York are teaming up for the first public screening of the only known film of Louis Armstrong in the studio, recording his 1959 album, Satchmo Plays King Oliver. The acquisition of the film made headlines in 2015 but it has never been shown publicly until now. Armstrong scholar Ricky Riccardi will provide commentary on the film before a special live performance by David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band.

About the Speaker and Performers:
Ricky Riccardi is the Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and author of What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years (Vintage, 2012). He runs the online blog, “The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong,” and has given lectures on Armstrong at venues around the world.

David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band has been performing since 1980, inspired by the noble jazz pioneers Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, and their colleagues.  They have a weekly engagement at New York City’s Birdland and have performed at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer’s Night Swing and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Cost: $20 for adults; $15 for seniors, students & educators (with ID); $10 for Museum members. Includes Museum admission.

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue btwn 103rd and 104th Streets
New York NY 10029

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Count Meets the Duke

Count Meets the Duke - JALC - May 19 2017.jpg

Friday, May 19, 2017 | 8:00pm – 9:30pm

Wynton Marsalis, Vincent Gardner, and Rodney Whitaker – all current or former members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – join a group of handpicked young artists to perform the music of Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Kansas City’s Count Basie Orchestra remains a standard-setting example of a hard-swinging big band, with iconic soloists, infectious tunes, and the eternally envied “All-American Rhythm Section” of Jo Jones, Freddie Green, and Walter Page. Duke Ellington, too, was an extraordinary bandleader, as well as a genius composer of incalculable influence. Throughout its incredible variety, Ellington’s music has a timeless quality and unmatched ability to uplift and enlighten, offering an ideal showcase a big band’s nuance and cohesion. The rising stars in tonight’s band are in early stages of what will surely be exciting musical careers, and each has earned a spot on stage through deep dedication. When the Count meets the Duke, it will be an inspiring multigenerational exploration of the jazz canon’s core. Free pre-concert discussion nightly, 7pm.

Cost: $50.50 to $140.50

Jazz at Lincoln Center – Rose Theater

33 West 60th Street, Floor 11

New York, NY 10023

Location Tel No: 212-721-6500

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June 11th – Happy Birthday Hazel Scott!

Pianist/vocalist Hazel Scott is born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 1920. Scott was not just a jazz pianist, nor a mere entertainer. She was among the first musicians to attempt to fuse jazz with classical music, and before the chazelscott-354x340ivil rights movement (in which she was an active participant), she–like Duke Ellington–insisted on defying racial stereotypes. Whether in a posh nightclub or a Hollywood soundstage, Scott reflected a positive stage and screen (for she made numerous film appearances) image, a mix of high-cheekboned beauty, glamor and elegance. Scott was classically trained and playing professionally in her early teens. By 16, she was a radio star, appearing on the prestigious Mutual Broadcasting Network and sharing a bill with the Count Basie Orchestra at the Roseland Ballroom. In the late 1930s, she appeared in the Broadway musicals Singing Out the News and Priorities of 1942; quickly followed by parts in the films Something to Shout About, I Dood it, Tropicana, and The Heat’s On (1943), Broadway Rhythm (1944), and the George Gershwin biopic Rhapsody in Blue (1945). Remarkably, Scott insisted on final cut of her appearance on every film in which she appeared, as well as her choice of costumes. She was a regular at the integrated nightclub Cafe Society. Her marriage to Harlem congressman Adam Clayton Powell was treated as a celebrity wedding.

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By The National Jazz Museum in Harlem

A Piece of Harlem History Turns to Dust

The Renaissance Theater and Casino in Harlem, where Duke Ellington performed, Joe Louis slugged opponents and the Black Fives basketball team called the Harlem Rens dominated games, is now mostly in piles of brick, metal and dust.

The developers who bought the property had hoped to salvage the tiles but now will not.

The developers who bought the property had hoped to salvage the tiles but now will not.

Efforts to preserve the building known as the Renny, which opened in 1921 and was at the heart of African-American culture at a time when racial segregation laws undermined black achievement, were the subject of a Dec. 21, 2014, Metropolitan article. Protesters stood outside the vacant theater on Sunday mornings for weeks, seeing in its demise yet another lost piece of Harlem culture. They organized a petition drive that garnered more than 1,000 signatures, calling on city officials to support the preservation effort. Though the block long brick structure along Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard at West 137th Street, adorned with North-African inspired mosaics, was considered for landmark status years ago, it never earned the designation.

The push to save the building came to an end on March 30, when the new owners began to tear it down.

“It sort of feels like a death in the family,” said Claude Johnson, founder and executive director of the Black Fives Foundation, a group devoted to the history of black basketball players and teams before the game was integrated. Mr. Johnson, who took part in the preservation effort, has returned again and again to the site as demolition slowly reduces the Renny to rubble.

“I am just going there out of sorrow because I felt like you pay your last respects,” Mr. Johnson said.


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Kids Exhibit on Harlem’s Jazz History Opens

larger jazzUPPER WEST SIDE — Kids can learn about the history of Harlem’s jazz scene by tap dancing, learning how to scat or composing their own tune at an exhibit opening Friday at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

“Jazzed! The Changing Beat of 125th Street,” aims to transport visitors to Harlem in the 1920s-’40s through photos, music, writing and memorabilia.

In partnership with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, the exhibit centers on the work of legendary artists Ella Fitzgerald, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Duke Ellington. It runs through the end of the year.

Though the exhibit is filled with details about the performers, organizers want “Jazzed!” to feel more like an immersive experience than an academic exhibit, said Thomas Quaranta, the director of exhibitions and museum operations.

Visitors can make their own tap shoes with bottle caps, scat like Fitzgerald on a newly created stage, and compose a new piece for a live pianist to play.

“Jazz is accessible. It’s alive today and it’s about this beat that can be your own,” Quaranta said. “It’s about the moment.”

In that vein, the museum will pipe in classic tunes from the Harlem Renaissance, but also feature live artists performing in the gallery.

Local high school and college students will play jazz sets and improvisations during the day, while more seasoned pros will take the stage on select nights, Quaranta explained.

“When you see somebody like that doing a jazz piece… it really leaves an impression that you otherwise wouldn’t have,” he said, adding that he hoped the musicians would inspire young visitors.

“Jazzed!” also draws the connection between today’s artists — not only musicians but painters, dancers and poets — and those of the Harlem Renaissance.

Through diagrams and text on the walls, kids can learn what it means to influence other artists and how musical legacies live on, Quaranta noted.

“You’ll hopefully get to see how you can get from Eminem to Bojangles,” he said.

Tickets are $11 each and children under 1 can attend for free. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

By Emily Frost on May 22, 2014 11:27am

Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater celebrates its 80th anniversary

For decades it was the place you could see future superstars as working musicians, like Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, the Tempations, the Supremes and James Brown

What Carnegie Hall is to a classical pianist, the Metropolitan Opera is to a mezzo-soprano and Yankee Stadium is to a third baseman, the Apollo Theater was to a jazz musician, tap dancer, rhythm and blues group or an urban comedian.

James Brown struts his stuff at the Apollo Theater.

James Brown struts his stuff at the Apollo Theater.

“It was the pinnacle,” says Smokey Robinson, who sang there countless times with the Miracles and solo. “It was the most important theater in the world. Once you could say you’d played the Apollo, you could get in any door anywhere. You had made it.”

That stature was by no means assured, or even foreseen, when the Apollo opened its doors on Jan. 26, 1934. Then it was just one among dozens of vaudeville and burlesque theaters offering a quick, cheap relief from the Depression.

As it prepares to mark its 80th anniversary this month, it’s still one of the half dozen most famous theaters in the world. While it’s true that hyperbole and exaggeration flow easily in nostalgic talk of bygone cultural institutions, the Apollo needs neither.

The biggest stars did play there. For a buck or two you could arrive before lunch and stay until after midnight, watching five or six shows by the likes of Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, the Nicholas Brothers, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Bill Robinson. Or, a few years later, the Temptations, the Supremes and James Brown.

Nor, with the exception of a few marquee gigs years later, did these artists play the Apollo as superstars, with catering in their dressing rooms. They played as working artists: singers, musicians, comedians and dancers who stayed on the circuit 40-50 weeks a year, playing to a few hundred or a few thousand people at a time.

The Apollo was a week of paying work.

It thrived in part because many of these world-class artists couldn’t get enough work from white clubs, theaters or radio networks.

Still, the Apollo was never a consolation prize. It was a theater full of fans who appreciated some of America’s most original and enduring talent. It was a mecca of mostly black culture on America’s most famous black street.

When Sammy Davis Jr. had the devastating car accident that cost him his left eye in 1954, he booked his first comeback show at the Apollo, where he had tap-danced for years as a child prodigy with the Will Mastin Trio.

“This,” he told the audience, “is where I come home.”

Longtime entertainer, community leader Al Stiles has died

Song-and-dance man and community leader Al Stiles has performed his swan song.Stiles, who was declared a living legend in 2002 by the Apollo Theater in Harlem and performed with some of the nation’s best-known entertainers, died Jan. 2. He was 91.bildeBorn in 1924 and raised in Tampa, Fla., Stiles started his entertainment career as a child performer in a five-member jug band. At age 12, he took a bus to New York City with a 9-year-old jug band partner, Nathaniel Reese. Without their parents’ knowledge, they auditioned and played on CBS Radio’s “Major Bowes Amateur Hour.” They won the show’s talent contest.

He performed with a vaudeville novelty and comedy act before touring with a song-and-dance team. In 1939, he and Reese played at the Apollo as well as at the New York World’s Fair with stars such as Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis Jr.

While Stiles has enjoyed sharing his showbiz tales of yesteryear, he was most proud of his work with the Talent Factory, a program he started in the 1980s to teach inner-city youth the theater arts.

“A lot of them have gone on to bigger and better things, and I’m glad for them,” Stiles said in 2002. “It was a goal that I set up to accomplish, and I feel real good about it.”

The program was housed in the back of his shoeshine shop, Al Stiles’ World’s Best Shoe Shine on East Wayne Street. The nonprofit organization went on hiatus in the late 1990s, but performing was still in his heart, even if his body couldn’t take his old song-and-dance routines. He showed Gregory Hines dance moves of his own when Hines performed at the Embassy Theatre in 1996.

In 2002, Stiles released “We Can Fly,” a nine-track blues-and-jazz CD he produced with his jazz-drummer son, Ronald Stiles. Two songs are Stiles’ original compositions.

Stiles, a tap-dance prodigy even as a child, was drafted after the outbreak of World War II and was sent to Baer Field (now Fort Wayne International Airport) in Fort Wayne. He liked the city so much that he decided to stay and raise his family after marrying in 1944. Over the years he worked at International Harvester and Flashfold Box Co.

The community and nation embraced him as well. In 2002 he was among the prominent local African-Americans interviewed included in a national oral history compiled by the nonprofit organization History Makers of Chicago. And in 2007, Stiles received the Ove W. Jorgensen Spirit of Leadership Award from Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana for his service to area youth.

“I have accomplished everything I wanted in life,” he said at the time. “The Lord has blessed me, and I give him the credit. It makes me feel like he has kept me around so I could help others.”

News-Sentinel staff reports
Thursday, January 9, 2014 – 10:12 am

Harlem’s renowned Sylvia’s restaurant coming to St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — It won’t immediately bring back the glory days when Duke Ellington and Ray Charles played here, but the opening of Sylvia’s Queen of Soul Food restaurant at the Historic Manhattan Casino next weekend may be the start of better times for the city’s struggling 22nd Street South corridor

On Nov. 9, the famous restaurant plans to open its sole location outside its Harlem base on the ground floor of the rehabbed building at 642 22nd St. S.

City leaders say Sylvia’s will be a destination for tourists and residents at the north end of a sparsely developed business corridor that was the heart of St. Petersburg’s black business community.

For the surrounding area known as Midtown, which has struggled to overcome urban blight and poverty for decades, the restaurant isn’t the only reason for optimism. In the coming months, 22nd Street South will also welcome a microbrewery, an LED light technology manufacturer, along with a Cajun restaurant, ice cream parlor and consignment shop. Further south of the interstate, a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market will replace the Sweetbay grocery store that closed in February.

In December, St. Petersburg College expects to break ground on a 45,000-square-foot campus that will house a job training program in partnership with the LED company, LumaStream.

“We need to be clear that we’re in the early stages of this. The critical thing is to make sure we keep the momentum going and keep adding one thing after another after another,” said City Council Chairman Karl Nurse, whose district encompasses a large swath of Midtown.

“If that doesn’t happen, it will stop, and we’ll miss the opportunity in a recovering economy.”

The opening of Sylvia’s has been a long time coming.

A once-thriving nightspot, the Manhattan Casino has been closed for nearly 40 years. Its redevelopment was part of a wide-ranging redevelopment plan in Midtown after the 1996 riots in the neighborhood, with dozens of public and private projects totaling more than $200 million.

The results included the sprawling Pinellas County Jobs Corp. training facility, the Cater G. Woodson African-American History Museum and the Tangerine Plaza shopping center anchored by the old Sweetbay store.

The city invested nearly $3 million to renovate the casino building in 2005, but it was left unfinished for several years as the city struggled to find a tenant.

In May, the nonprofit Urban Development Solutions and city officials kicked off a $1.6-million renovation to convert the building’s first floor into Sylvia’s.

The building’s second flood is already open as an event hall.

“This is going to be a magnet. This is a destination restaurant for the entire city, which means people will come from all over,” Mayor Bill Foster said.

City officials hope the prosperity along 22nd Street continues.

The city has acquired land directly across the street from Sylvia’s that is zoned for manufacturing. Economic development officials have been talking with business owners they hope may eventually locate there and bring manufacturing jobs to the area.

“That’s the bottom line for Midtown revitalization is creation of jobs,” said Dave Goodwin, the city’s economic development director.

(727) 215-1277

Twitter: @jboatwrightTBO

Sid Bernstein, who brought Beatles to Shea, dies

NEW YORK — Misty-eyed music promoter Sid Bernstein, who booked such top acts as Jimi Hendrix, Judy Garland and the Rolling Stones and hit the highest heights when he masterminded the Beatles’ historic concerts at Shea Stadium and Carnegie Hall, died Wednesday at age 95.

Bernstein’s daughter, Casey Deutsch, said he died in his sleep at a hospital. She cited no illness and said he died of natural causes.

FILE- In this Feb. 12, 1964 file photo, the Beatles, from left Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr on drums, and John Lennon, perform at Carnegie Hall in New York. Sid Bernstein, the music promoter who brought the Beatles to American and was responsible for the Carnegie Hall concert, died Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 in a New

FILE- In this Feb. 12, 1964 file photo, the Beatles, from left Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr on drums, and John Lennon, perform at Carnegie Hall in New York. Sid Bernstein, the music promoter who brought the Beatles to American and was responsible for the Carnegie Hall concert, died Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 in a New

For decades, the squat, floppy-haired Bernstein excelled like few others at being everywhere and knowing everybody. He worked with Garland, Duke Ellington and Ray Charles, promoted Dion, Bobby Darin and Chubby Checker and managed Esy Morales, the Rascals and Ornette Coleman. He was an early backer of ABBA, setting up the Swedish group’s first American appearances. He was behind one of the first rock benefit shows, the 1970 “Winter Festival for Peace” at Madison Square Garden, which featured Hendrix and Peter, Paul and Mary. And he helped revive Tony Bennett’s career with a 1962 show at Carnegie Hall.

A master of schmooze and schmaltz in an industry that never quits, Bernstein also had a studious side that led to his biggest break. He took a course on Western civilization at the New School for Social Research that required students to read a British newspaper once a week. It was 1963, and the Beatles were just catching on in their native country.

“This was the right time to be reading an English newspaper,” he explained in a 2001 interview with the music publication NY Rock Confidential. “So here I am reading little stories about this group from Liverpool that is causing a lot of ‘hysteria.’ By the end of the course, I was so Beatle-ized by what I read, even though I did not hear a note, I said, ‘gotta get ’em.'”

As Bernstein recalled, he couldn’t get his agency interested in the group, so he handled the job himself. He tracked down Beatles manager Brian Epstein and convinced him that he could line up a gig at Carnegie Hall. The Beatles were still unknown in the U.S., and the price was cheap — $6,500 for two shows, a fraction of what Garland might have commanded. The promoter used his own money to pay Epstein, while officials at the classy Carnegie, where no rock stars had been permitted, apparently thought they had taken on a folk quartet. (The story has varied over the years.) The timing was perfect. By February 1964, Beatlemania had crossed over to the States, and the band was set to play on “The Ed Sullivan Show” just three days before the Carnegie concerts, guaranteeing maximum attention at minimum cost.

Once the Beatles hit, Bernstein was primed to get the bands that followed. He arranged shows for the Stones, the Animals and other British groups, while saving his biggest dreams for the Beatles. Everything for Bernstein was the latest and the greatest, but his word was never more golden than in 1965, when he landed the group at Shea Stadium, the idea given to him by a ticket manager at Carnegie Hall.

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Dreams of a Harlem Jazz Rebirth

31JAZZ4_SPAN-articleLargeAs another evening falls, the Lenox Lounge sits dim and lonely. Commuters pour out of the 125th Street subway station and onto Lenox Avenue, past its padlocked door. At Ginny’s Supper Club across the street, a mostly black crowd of men in suits and women in heels sips and sways as a band turns out a haunting rendition of John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things.”

It is said that Coltrane once blew his sax at the Lenox Lounge, which kept regulars, downtowners and tourists coming back for 70 years, even through the neighborhood’s bleak times. Now, with Harlem resurgent, only its remains are on display: its Art Deco finishes, familiar red paneling and famous sign have all been stripped away. Continue reading