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Charlie Parker Jazz Festival Returns Aug. 21–25

Performers at 27th annual New York event include Dee Dee Bridgewater, Fred Hersch, Ravi Coltrane, and more

Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker (photo: William P. Gottlieb c/o Library of Congress)

The 27th annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival will be held at parks and venues around Manhattan and include free concerts, panel discussions, film screenings, and workshops focused in Harlem from August 21 through August 25.

The free festival is New York City’s annual salute to the legendary late saxophonist, featuring both contemporaries of Charlie Parker as well as young jazz musicians who continue to shape and drive the art form.

This year’s festival will celebrate the centennial of the Harlem Renaissance and highlight the artistic and creative energy that has made Harlem a world-renowned artistic community, while continuing to honor Parker’s work and legacy.
On Friday, August 23, the multimedia show Harlem 100 will take over Marcus Garvey Park from 7 to 9 p.m. Created in collaboration with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, this free performance will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. The evening will feature an all-star cast of modern jazz musicians, including Mwenso and the Shakes, a multicultural New York jazz group led by the Sierra Leone-born singer Michael Mwenso; Brianna Thomas, a vocalist who specializes in ’30s-style swing; Vuyo Sotashe, an ascendant young South African jazz vocalist; and special guest trombonist Fred Wesley of James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic fame.
On Saturday, August 24, three-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter and jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater will headline a bill joined by jazz scion Ravi Coltrane, the son of jazz pianist Alice Coltrane and saxophonist John Coltrane, from 3 to 7 p.m. in Marcus Garvey Park. Bridgewater will be joined by Quiana Lynell, the winner of the 2017 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition.

Also on the program that afternoon will be “Reclamation,” a piece honoring Charlie Parker, commissioned in association with the Joyce and George Wein Foundation and the Jazz Gallery, featuring Queens native Camille Thurman; Nikara Warren, a Brooklyn-born vibraphonist whose latest project, Black Wall Street, is designed as an ode to excellence in black music; and harpist Brandee Younger.
On Sunday, August 25 from 3 to 7 p.m., the festival travels back to Tompkins Square Park, located near Charlie Parker’s home in the East Village. Carl Allen’s Art Blakey Tribute show will honor the legendary drummer/bandleader, whose centennial is this year. As a young drummer out of William Paterson University, Allen earned a spot in Freddie Hubbard’s band, and would go on to play with the saxophonists George Coleman and Phil Woods (among others), and serve as the artistic director of jazz studies at the Juilliard School. The quintet he brings to the festival features trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, saxophonist JD Allen, pianist Eric Reed, and bassist Peter Washington. Allen will be joined by NEA Jazz Master saxophonist George Coleman and his trio, multiple Grammy-nominee pianist Fred Hersch, and saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin.  
In addition to these three days of free live performances, City Parks Foundation has also partnered with local institutions to present free and open-to-the-public jazz events around the city.
A full schedule of Charlie Parker Jazz Festival Performances and Partner Events is listed below. For more information, visit

Charlie Parker Jazz Festival Performances

Friday, August 23

What: Harlem 100: Mwenso And The Shakes / Brianna Thomas / Vuyo Sotashe / Special Guest Fred Wesley / Jazzmobile Presents: Winard Harper & Jeli Posse

When: 7 to 9 p.m.

Where: Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt. Morris Park West, New York, NY 10027


Saturday, August 24
What: Dee Dee Bridgewater / Ravi Coltrane / Quiana Lynell / Reclamation: Camille Thurman, Nikara Warren, and Brandee Younger

When: 3 to 7 p.m.

Where: Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt. Morris Park West, New York, NY 10027

Sunday, August 25
What: Carl Allen’s Art Blakey Tribute / George Coleman Trio / Fred Hersch / Lakecia Benjamin

When: 3 to 7 p.m.

Where: Tompkins Square Park, E. 10th St., New York, NY 10009


Charlie Parker Jazz Festival Partner Events 

Wednesday, August 21

What: Native Soul Tribute to Clark Terry & Screening of Keep On Keepin’ On – in association with the Jazz Foundation Of America

When: 6 p.m. concert, 7:45 p.m. screening

Where: Hansborough Recreation Center Rooftop, 35 W. 134th St., Manhattan        

About: Saxophonist Peter Brainin, pianist Noah Haidu, bassist Marcus McLaurine, and drummer Steve Johns present a special tribute to swing and bebop trumpeter Clark Terry. In Keep on Keepin’ On (2014), directed by Alan Hicks, Terry mentors blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin as he prepares to compete in an international competition. The film also features Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, and Arturo Sandoval.

Note: Free with RSVP to [email protected]
What: Jazz in the Garden: Michael Marcus – n Association With The Jazz Foundation Of America and Ariana’s List

When: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: 6BC Botanical Garden, 622 East 6th St. (between Aves. B & C), Manhattan

About: Michael Marcus is a jazz clarinetist/multi-woodwind player, composer and arranger. Since releasing his debut recording, he has appeared on more than 35 records and composed over 125 original/recorded compositions.
Thursday, August 22
What: Unpacking Jazz and Gender Justice with Terri Lyne Carrington and Aja Burrell Wood

When: Noon to 2 p.m.

Where: The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, 58 W. 129th St., Manhattan

About: What would jazz sound like in a culture without patriarchy? Join jazz drummer, composer, and singer Terri Lyne Carrington with special guests for a discussion on jazz, equity, and justice as transformation. This panel is presented by the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice and moderated by its managing director Aja Burrell Wood.

Note: Free with RSVP to [email protected]
What: An Evening At Langston’s: Celebrating the Centennial Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance with Candice Hoyes

When: 7 to 9 p.m.

Where: The Langston Hughes House, 20 E. 127th St. (between Madison and Fifth Aves.), Manhattan

About: A class celebrating the Harlem Renaissance with Ryan Maloney of the National Jazz Museum and a performance by vocalist Candice Hoyes and multi-instrumentalist Joel Ross.

Note: Free with RSVP to [email protected]
What: Screening: The Ballad of Fred Hersch and Q&A with directors Charlotte Lagarde and Carrie Lozano

When: 7 to 9 p.m.

Where: Maysles Documentary Center, 343 Malcolm X Blvd. (Lenox Ave.), Manhattan    

About: An intimate portrait of one of today’s foremost jazz pianists. With more than 30 albums and 12 Grammy nominations under his belt, Hersch is internationally revered in jazz circles as a master improviser. He was the first jazz musician to come out as gay and HIV-positive in the early 1990s. Film is followed by director Q&A.

Note: Free with RSVP to [email protected]

Friday, August 23
What: Jazz in the Garden: René McLean – in association with the Jazz Foundation of America and Ariana’s List

When: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: Harlem Rose Garden, 6 E. 129th St., Manhattan

About: New Yorker René McLean is a world-renowned saxophonist, composer, bandleader, educator and producer. He began his musical training at the age of 9 under the guidance of his father Jackie McLean, and started leading his own bands at the age of 16. He has performed and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Tito Puente, Horace Silver, Hugh Masekela, Yusef Lateef, and others.