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Strata-East to Celebrate 50 Years at Birdland

The independent label's co-founder Charles Tolliver will lead an all-star band for five nights in honor of its golden anniversary

Charles Tolliver
Charles Tolliver (photo: John Abbott)

Strata-East Records, the legendary independent jazz label that released albums by Gil Scott-Heron, Pharoah Sanders, Clifford Jordan, Shirley Scott, Max Roach’s M’Boom, Jayne Cortez, the Heath Brothers, and many more, was founded by Stanley Cowell and Charles Tolliver in 1971. To mark its 50th anniversary, trumpeter Tolliver will lead an ensemble of Strata-East All Stars at Birdland in New York City over five nights, from August 31 to September 4. The final evening will be broadcast via livestream.

Along with Tolliver, the Strata-East All Stars include tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, pianist George Cables, bassist Buster Williams, and drummer Lenny White. Bassist Cecil McBee will also make an appearance at the September 4 livestream. All (save White) played on albums that were released by Strata-East.

In addition to the musicians, the performances will feature Academy Award-winning actor Danny Glover, who will act as a narrator.

The Strata-East All Stars will perform two sets each night over the five nights at Birdland. The livestream on September 4 begins at 9:30 p.m. on the Dreamstage web streaming platform.

Visit Birdland’s website for more information. Visit Dreamstage’s website to purchase tickets to the livestream performance.

Learn more about Cowell and Tolliver’s influential label in this JazzTimes oral history by Michael J. West.