Every summer as New York City sweats and steams its way through the latter part of July, a truly cool jazz event holds court at the 92nd Street Y on the city’s Upper East Side. Curated by pianist Bill Charlap, the Jazz in July concert series is held the last two weeks of that month and features a multitude of artists appearing together under a particular theme—it could be an artist, composer, or aesthetic. The series kicked off on July 17 with “Crazy Rhythm/Prohibition!” focusing on the music of the ’20s as performed by Mary Stallings, Warren Vache, Jon Gordon, Ted Rosenthal, and others. A salute to three legendary yet often overlooked pianists—Teddy Wilson, Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan—follows on July 18 in a concert aptly named “The Elegant Piano,” featuring Charlap, Dick Hyman, Aaron Diehl and Rossano Sportiello, accompanied by Ken Peplowski, Chuck Redd, Peter Bernstein, Peter Washington, and Kenny Washington.
Hyman founded the series back in the mid-’80s and served as artistic director for 20 years before passing the baton to Charlap. Now in his 14th year at the helm, Charlap relishes the opportunity to combine his knowledge of jazz and songbook history with his affinity for so many gifted players. “All I’m trying to do is find a way to create a red carpet for musicians, while making something that’s entertaining for the audience,” he says. “At the same time, we’re embracing all kinds of different music in unique combinations that you won’t see anywhere else. They’re once-in-a-lifetime concerts.”