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New York Launches Inaugural Harlem & Jazz Festival

Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington, Harry Belafonte and more will be honored

Final shot for Harlem 1958 photo session
Final shot for Harlem 1958 photo session (photo by Art Kane)

The first ever Harlem Jazz & Music Festival, the newest element of the annual HARLEM WEEK celebration, is ongoing now through Saturday, August 31. The festival will host an array of events, including free indoor and outdoor performances by world-renowned musicians honoring music legends including Duke Ellington and Aretha Franklin; a film festival; and jazz brunches at Solomon & Kuff, Floridita and other restaurants throughout Harlem.

In this inaugural year, the Harlem Jazz & Music Festival will honor celebrated musicians who have had an impact on generations from across the globe. The much-anticipated festival was launched at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem with performances by the Tim Porter Trio and The Feeling Messengers.

This year’s festival includes tributes to Nina Simone, Smokey Robinson, Duke Ellington, Dionne Warwick, Tito Puente, Miriam Makeba, Aretha Franklin, and Harry Belafonte. Tributes will be performed by artists including music arranger and pianist Nat Adderley, Jr., avant-garde trombonist Craig Harris, Dancing with the Stars Musical Director Ray Chew and The Crew, WBLS’ Jeff Foxx and his band, saxophonist, Lonnie Youngblood, guitarist and vocalist King Solomon Hicks, pianist Danny Mixon trumpeter Joey Morant, Grammy nominated Bobby Sanabria Big Band and more.

In addition, the Harlem Jazz & Music Festival will expand HARLEM WEEK’s traditional programming offerings to include nightlife events happening at clubs throughout Harlem. Events will include Jazzmobile at Minton’s Playhouse, UPtown Saturday Nite at Showman’s Jazz Club, and Harlem Late Night Swing and “Swing Night” at the Cotton Club.

Additional festival highlights will include a series of jazz brunches at restaurants throughout Harlem including Melba’s, Floridita, Sylvia’s and Solomon & Kuff, and an outdoor film festival featuring a montage of historic black entertainers.

A full line up of events can be found below or by visiting

The Harlem Jazz & Music Festival, which will be an annual event, is co-sponsored by HARLEM WEEK and the West Harlem Development Corporation in partnership with support from The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, I Love NY, NYC & Company, Empire State Development, Harlem Community Development Corporation, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Harlem Arts Alliance and Jazzmobile.

Harlem Jazz and Music Festival Schedule 

Wednesday, August 28
7 – 9 p.m.
Harlem Jazz and Music Festival Jazzmobile’s 55thAnniversary and Honors Duke Ellington and Dionne Warwick
Location: U.S. Grant Memorial Park “Grant’s Tomb”| W. 122ND Street & Riverside Drive

Thursday, August 29
5 p.m.
Summer Stage in Harlem
Harlem Jazz & Music Festival Tribute to Artz, Rootz & Rhythm

7 p.m.
Harlem School of the Arts 55th Anniversary Celebration
Location: St. Nicholas Ave. & 141 St.

Friday, August 30
5 p.m.
Harlem Jazz & Music Festival’s “Harlem on the Hudson” Featuring a Tribute to Tito Puente & Miriam Makeba (hosted by Jazzmobile)
Location: Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park | W. 145th Street & Riverside Drive
Saturday, August 31
6:30 p.m.
Harlem Jazz & Music Festival Tribute to Aretha Franklin (The Queen of Soul) & Harry Belafonte (The King of Calypso)
Location: City College of New York South Lawn Amphitheater | Convent Ave. & W. 135th Street