Nearly 52 years ago, astronaut Neil Armstrong, alighting on the moon's surface, uttered his iconic quote, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Progress is measured in many ways but here at the gazette's offices, we take our own small step, publishing an Event Calendar for the first time since March 2020, and view it as a giant leap for New York City's art scene and the health of the world in general. While there are other jazz capitals, NYC being so relatively silent for so long just felt wrong; the isolation experienced by the world's greatest concentration of jazz
musicians was palpable. Now, with the warm weather, there are outdoor concerts and, with COVID 19 infection rates dropping and vaccinations rising, we are starting to return to indoor performances. Certainly the density of concerts is far from what it was—one page versus several—but more will come and that is not just a step, it is a whole dance routine.
This month we have features on keyboard player Robert Glasper (On The Cover), who plays a week at the newly reopened Blue Note; saxophonist Patience Higgins (Interview), participating in some outdoor JazzMobile events; and organ player Greg Lewis (Artist Feature) appearing every weekend at Williamsburg Music Center, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. And our Album Reviews mix the live-streams that have kept us going over the last year-plus with in-person events helping us heal after a long period of darkness and despair.
On the Cover: ROBERT GLASPER
By Jordannah Elizabeth; photos by Jason Todd Cooper and Miles Bitton
Grammy award-winning keyboardist and Black music aficionado Robert Glasper has never been afraid to speak his mind. The 47-year-old jazz musician has attained heights of acclaim many musicians 20 years his senior will never reach, but this is because Glasper cast his net wide and decisively chose to step away from traditionalism and mastering jazz standards for a living to chart new territory, creating hip-hop and R&B fusion, which, 10 years ago, had not been done on the scale in which he was working. Glasper is at Blue Note Jun. 15th-20th.
Interview: PATIENCE HIGGINS
By Sylvia Levine; photo courtesy of the artist
Reedplayer Patience Higgins is one of those musicians everyone has heard and heard of but the extent of his talents and musical experience has stayed largely under the radar. From leading Monday night sessions at St. Nick's Pub for years and performing with numerous long-running Broadway shows to a chair in the Duke Ellington Orchestra and participating in at least 57 recordings (so far) and traveling the world with jazz and pop groups and shows, Higgins has fit into a broad range of musical situations.
He is as comfortable playing with Lionel Hampton as with Hamiet Bluiett as with Bobby Watson as with…well, this reporter last saw him in the baritone chair with the Peter Leitch New Life Orchestra one afternoon pre-pandemic. And let's not forget to mention his affinity for tap and his long-running association with tap master Savion Glover. Higgins is at Riverside Park Jun. 13th and Grant's Tomb Jun. 23rd, both as part of JazzMobile, and Minton's Jun. 26th.
Artist Feature: GREG LEWIS
By Michael Cobb; photo courtesy of the artist
Greg Lewis is a highly regarded organ player, pianist and composer on New York City's jazz, blues and funk scenes, deeply committed to expanding his jazz roots and developing his own musical vocabulary. Lewis is at Williamsburg Music Center Fridays and Saturdays.
Encore: ROBERTO MIRANDA
By Anders Griffen
Bassist Roberto Miranda has been on many musical adventures, performing and recording with his mentors—Horace Tapscott, John Carter and Bobby Bradford and later, Kenny Burrell—as well as artists like Charles Lloyd, Tim Berne, Vinny Golia, Michele Rosewoman and James Newton, among many others. This year Dark Tree Records released Live at Bing Theatre by Roberto Miranda's Home Music Ensemble.
Lest We Forget: DEWEY JOHNSON
By Eric Wendell
When trumpeter Dewey Johnson recorded with saxophonist John Coltrane on the free-jazz masterpiece Ascension, Johnson countered Coltrane's soul-searching barks with brisk billows beyond his 25 years. While not as experienced as many others on the sessions, his soul nonetheless spoke the truth on a career that was not well documented but left an indelible mark on those with whom he spoke the truth.
Record Label Spotlight: OUTSIDE IN MUSIC
By John Pietaro
Outside In has a unique approach to producing and distributing wherein the artist retains full ownership of intellectual property rights. Similar to grassroots book publishers that fit no specific category, Outside In partners with its artists to develop projects.
(this month's performance/streaming venues in parentheses):