For its 28th edition, the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival—presented as part of the New York City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage concert series—returned to Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem for three days (August 27-29). This year it celebrated bebop pioneer Parker’s 101st birthday. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the centennial fest had been all-virtual; all 2021 attendees had to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result. As expected, there were alto saxophonists aplenty: Antonio Hart, Gary Bartz, Vincent Herring, Bobby Watson (the latter three shared a stage), Donald Harrison, Sarah Hanahan, Godwin Louis, Erena Terakubo, and Justin Robinson, among others. But that was far from all the festival had to offer. Other performers included drummer Willie Jones III, pianist Dave Kikoski, vocalists Shenel Johns and Samara Joy, and the Harlem Symphony Orchestra, which joined Harrison and Johns for a set paying tribute to the 1949 and 1950 Charlie Parker with Strings recordings on the Verve label. Photographer Alan Nahigian was in the crowd for each of the three days and came back with these images of a jazz scene—and a city—returning to life.
Left to right: Miki Yamanaka, Antonio Hart, Alex Ayala, and Vince Ector at the 2021 Charlie Parker Jazz Festival (photo: Alan Nahigian)
For more information about the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, go here.