Bird Is The Word

If you were strolling by 151 Ave B in 1953, there’s a decent chance you’d bump into the guy who conceived bebop. Charlie Parker was an East Village family man back then, and he used Tompkins Square Park as the oasis from urban stress that it remains to this day. For the last 24 years it’s also been home to the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, a gathering of talent that’s been inspired by the jazz icon’s indelible impact. Along the way it wisely stretched from an afternoon affair into a weekend’s-worth of music, with Marcus Garvey Park being added as a second site – Bird spent as much time blowing with his buds in Harlem haunts as he did hanging downtown. The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival is one NYC’s most casual summer outings – the stages are close the audience, the intimacy enhances the music’s impact, and informality rules. From the Friday night show with Jason Lindner’s strings-enhanced Breeding Ground outfit (Aug 26) to the Sunday affair that puts Donny McCaslin’s fierce tenor sax in the spotlight (Aug 28), this summer’s program is sharp. The headliners are must-sees. 90-year-old Randy Weston uses a motherland pulse to create utterly captivating music with his African Rhythms ensemble (August 27), and the new hook-up of Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and Jason Moran is one of those supergroup deals that actually makes perfect sense – lots of chemistry between them. Think of Bird and expect a little magic.




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