No one will deny that the coming of the Newport Jazz Festival to New York in the summer of 1972 was a major catalyst in bringing the entire year-round jazz scene to life in the Big Apple. Now seven years later, with club and concert activity at a high level, the festival continues to flourish although it is, in effect, competing with the very extensive vista it helped create.
One thing producer George Wein has done, from time to time, is bring in other events, under the umbrella of Newport, in locations other than his usual venues of Carnegie and Avery Fisher Halls, Radio City Music Hall, Roseland and the Staten Island Ferry. Under the heading of Special Events this season there are happenings of great variety and interest.
On June 22 Rigmor Newman, formerly the directress of Jazz Interactions, will present two of the major keyboardists in avant-garde music, Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra, Taylor will perform with his Unit while Sun Ra will, of course, be at the helm of his Arkestra. There will be two shows, at eight and midnight at the Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, corner of 95th Street.
The Art Ensemble of Chicago, with Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell, Malachi Favors and Famadou Don Moye will share the Symphony Space stage with the World Saxophone Quartet—Hamiet Bluiett, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake and David Murray—at eight and midnight on June 21.
Women in jazz continue 10 be a growing force and the bad faith on the part of a midtown nightclub operator which marred last year’s Salute to Women in Jazz has not deterred Cobi Narita and the Universal Jazz Coalition from proceeding this year with an even more ambitious series of events. On June 26 the UIC will utilize the Guggenheim Band Shell in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center. From noon to ten the outdoor concert will feature music and dance by fifteen groups. This is one of the Newport events for which there will be no charge.
From June 27 through 30 the Top of the Gate, at the Village Gate 160 Bleecker St. at Thompson St will house a multiplicity of women’s jazz activities, There will be beginning and advanced workshops on the 27th and 28th and panel discussions on the 29th and 30th, These will be afternoon affairs from one to five, At eight thirty on each of these dates there will be concerts featuring people such as Sheila Jordan with the Steve Kuhn quartet; Jay Clayton; Janet Lawson; Jane Ira Bloom; and the Sharon Freeman/Janice Robinson group.
At seven in the evening on July 1 Amina Claudine Myers will present her Improvisational Suite for S0-piece Chorus and pipe organ at St. Peter’s Church at Lexington Avenue and 54th Street.
Information on any or all of these women’s jazz happenings can be gathered by calling the Universal Jazz Coalition at (212) 924-3026.
Another church performance — this one free to the public — will bring together two groups which have performed together before at Newport: the Max Roach Quartet and the J. C. White Singers, The setting will be the cavernous, magnificent Cathedral of St. John the Divine (112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue) at eleven o’clock on the morning of June 24.
There was a possibility at press time that Finnish pianist Heikki Sarmanto’s New Hope Jazz Mass, dedicated to Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, will be presented at St. Peter’s during the Festival. It was premiered at the Church in 1978.
On the educational front master bassist, Milt Hinton, who has been teaching at Hunter College for many years, will conduct bass clinics under the auspices of the college’s Center for Life-long Learning on June 23 and 30, assisted by two highly respected bassists, Ron Carter and Jack Lesberg. For details one may write to Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y, or call (212) 949-4361,
One of the complaints by long-time Newport goers when the festival moved to New York was that there weren’t enough outdoor events. They didn’t like being contained in concert halls and claimed that they sorely missed the ambiance achieved in the Rhode Island years. When the program at Central Park’s Wollman Rink did not draw well in 1973, it seemed as if Open air jazz entertainment would be at a minimum for Newport-New York. However, the Jazz Boat Ride endured and concept of the Jazz and Blues Picnics caught on at Waterloo Village in New Jersey, Then, last season, Wein branched out the Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs for two days, This will be encored in 1979 on June 30 and July 1 but closer to home, on the latter date, the NJF moves to Newbridge Road Park in Bellmore, Long Island, From two in the afternoon to ten at night, without paying # cent, you will be able 10 hear Buddy Rich and his Orchestra, Joe Coleman’s Jazz ‘Supreme, the New York Jazz Ensemble and David Chesky and his Orchestra.
As for myself, on July 1 1 will be at another free event, one which has gained a reputation for presenting some of the best music of the festival: the S2nd Street Jazz Fair, Some of Johany Griffin, Howard McGhee, the Tri-State McDonald’s High School Jazz Ensemble All-Star Group, and a jazz group from Bulgaria—Green, White and Reds.
And if you want to see some of the great black artists and heroes of the past you can catch them in David Chertok’s Jazz on Film at the Ethical Culture Hall (2 West 64th Street) on June 25 at eight o’clock — Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and many more. Now that’s a festival!