Blue Note Jazz Fest: More than 150 performances hit more than 15 NYC venues

By: AXS Contributor May 15, 2014
47 47 16541761 8 y2014m05d15

The Blue Note Jazz Festival’s only in its fourth year — comin’ right up on June 1-30!— but it’s the hottest ticket in town. How hot? Aretha Franklin’s in it, and she hates traveling, for anything.

The festival lays out 150 performances at more than 15 venues all over New York City. A fair amount of those are rare performances by artists, like Franklin, who don’t get around much anymore or who haven’t really jammed together like they should — hello, Bobby McFerrin & Questlove!

“This year’s festival puts a prime focus on distinctive collaborations,” said Steven Bensusan, president of Blue Note Entertainment Group. “Shows such as Bobby McFerrin teaming up with Questlove and André Previn working with Christian McBride are rare opportunities for fans to hear world-class artists perform together in unique musical settings.”

Blue Note Entertainment Group’s casting this party, but it’s not reserved only for the jazz elite. “We also continue to emphasize styles that are more broadly connected to jazz, to include everything from R&B, soul, and hip-hop to reggae, rock and Americana,” Bensusan said.

The mix definitely strays. Michael Bolton’s not jazz. Neither’s Ruben Studdard — performing with Grammy-winning-vocalist Lalah Hathaway — or Ramsey Lewis with Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey. But who cares?

Look at this line-up!

  • MUMBO JUMBO: McFerrin-Questlove dialogue for first official show
    Mumbo Jumbo: Bobby McFerrin & Questlove In Musical Dialogue is the first official full show to feature these two incomparable artists togeth
    Photo courtesy of 2014 Blue Note Jazz Festival

    Mumbo Jumbo: Bobby McFerrin & Questlove In Musical Dialogue is the first official full show to feature these two incomparable artists together. When they hit the Town Hall stage June 13 at 8:30 p.m., there’s no telling what will happen. McFerrin and Questlove have exchanged a few numbers here and there throughout the years, dig the fan video of them at the Blue Note Jazz Club from 2011, but nothing this fully realized and focused. After their March appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" for McFerrin’s “Drive,” they’re back on for a full set. Wild, man.

  • Avishai Cohen makes his first NYC appearance in two years
    Israeli bassist Avishai Cohen — his sister is jazz clarinetist/saxophonist/bandleader Anat — did his time as a street musician in New York C
    Photo courtesy of Blue Note Jazz Festival

    Israeli bassist Avishai Cohen — his sister is jazz clarinetist/saxophonist/bandleader Anat — did his time as a street musician in New York City the first year he arrived. He played in subways, parks, literally on the streets. He hooked up with pianist Danilo Pérez while gigging with a few Latin jazz bands and attending Mannes College The New School for Music. Cohen did more time, slugging away at small clubs when Chick Corea handed him his big break, a record contract. Cohen became a founding member of Corea’s Origin sextet in 1996. The sky was the limit after that. The musician who was inspired to take up bass at 14 after hearing Jaco Pastorius would launch his own record label, Razdaz Recordz in 2002, then release his debut album, “Lyla,” a year later. His most recent release, the 14th as a solo artist, is “Almah,” a return to his roots of classical and jazz. His own record label gave him the impetus to capture different musical styles, a heady combination of lyrical jazz kissed by a Middle Eastern groove, which Blue Note Festival audiences will hear for themselves in the Highline Ballroom, June 22, 8 p.m. (doors open 6 p.m.). He’ll show with his new trio, pianist Nitai Hershkovits and drummer Daniel Dor. Have mercy.

  • CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT: Danilo Pérez/John Patitucci/Brian Blade Trio mixes up Americas
    Jazz pedigree marks these three remarkable musicians like the hand of God. Their names are synonymous with excellence, in Pan-American jazz,
    Photo courtesy Spivey Hall website

    Jazz pedigree marks these three remarkable musicians like the hand of God. Their names are synonymous with excellence, in Pan-American jazz, Latin jazz, and all jazz in between. Grammy-winning artists Danilo Pérez (piano) and John Patitucci (bass) take on percussive genius Brian Blade in an unforgettable, June 17th show, two sets, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., at the Blue Note Jazz Club. All three are members of the latest incarnation in the Wayne Shorter Quartet. It’s the trio’s first official U.S. show. Blade is ridiculous on drums, with that NYC aggression very few can keep up with. Good thing he’s in the right company. The Trio continues the good feeling through June 22.

  • André Previn meets Christian McBride
    When these two Grammy-winning artists meet onstage at the Blue Note Jazz Club June 6, it’s gonna be incredible. See what happens when world-
    Photo courtesy of Blue Note Jazz Festival

    When these two Grammy-winning artists meet onstage at the Blue Note Jazz Club June 6, it’s gonna be incredible. See what happens when world-famous orchestral conductor/pianist André Previn and jazz big band bassist Christian McBride get together for the 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. sets. Previn’s known for his extensive film scores (Oscar! Oscar!), and classical, chamber, and jazz music, outstanding in every realm. McBride’s only getting started, pushing boundaries of jazz, big band, and soul-funk. The duo meet up again June 7-8.

  • Two Worlds, One Love: Happy 70th Monty Alexander
    Serious jazz musicians know and respect Monty Alexander for his tremendous contributions to some serious fusions. Born on June 6, 1944 (D-Da
    Photo courtesy of Blue Note Jazz Festival

    Serious jazz musicians know and respect Monty Alexander for his tremendous contributions to some serious fusions. Born on June 6, 1944 (D-Day) in Kingston, Jamaica, the pianist and composer has brought forth in his live performances and recordings all of the cross-cultural voices at his disposal. Known for his amazingly imaginative and fully realized amalgamations — his #1 album, “Harlem-Kingston Express: Live!” is freakishly pronounced in its devotion to Caribbean-jazz — Alexander brings his two worlds together in a steaming, crashing downbeat. Celebrate Alexander’s 70th birthday with a few special reggae and jazz guests at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill June 12, 8 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.). Among them: Tony Rebel, Bob Andy, Boris Gardner, Pluto Shervington, and Jesse Royal.

Sponsor
In this article
Topics:
Artists:
Sponsor

Sign up for our weekly event guide email.

Be the first to know. Get personalized event announcements, updates, and reviews every week with the AXS.com event guide email.

Privacy Policy