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Annual jazz festival highlights boro’s musicians and music history

The Brooklyn Paper

It’s time once again to celebrate jazz in Brooklyn and to celebrate Brooklyn’s history of producing great jazz musicians.

On April 1, the third annual Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival will kick off with a performance by Brooklynite Roland Alexander and his All Stars at Pumpkins, 1448 Nostrand Ave. at Church Avenue. Open since 1978, Pumpkins is said to be Brooklyn’s oldest jazz club.

Organized by the Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, a group of Brooklyn jazz clubs, churches and cultural centers, the festival is determined to bring jazz back to Brooklyn and bring patrons to the borough’s jazz clubs. During the 1950s and 1960s, Brooklyn legends such as percussionist Max Roach, singer Betty Carter and pianist-composer Randy Weston were some of the artists who performed regularly in Brooklyn.

According to Alma Carroll, co-founder - with her late husband Joe Carroll, "Dizzy [Gillespie]’s cohort" - of Jazzpazazz, a non-profit jazz preservation society, the fest is about honoring the masters of jazz as much as it is about educating new jazz musicians. It also aims to promote economic growth for the community and the musicians.

Toward the education end the festival hosts master classes, youth performances, and on April 6 at 1 pm, a panel discussion, "Jazz: The Women’s Viewpoint" at the Skylight Gallery at Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton St. between Brooklyn and New York avenues. The panelists will include both women in music (Deirdre Murray and Kim Clark) and relatives of musicians (Evelyn Blakey, daughter of drummer Art Blakey; Bertha Hope, wife of pianist Elmo Hope; Eloise Jones, wife of drummer Philly Joe Jones; Gloria Ware, wife of bassist Wilbur Ware and Caroline Raye, wife of Louis Russell). The moderator is Monique Ngozi Nri.

According to Bayyinah Ajabu Abdu Sabur, a jazz activist, wife of the late drummer Lex Humphries and a Clinton Hill resident, it’s important for women "who lived it and were part of the evolution of the music - especially this era they are coming from, the 1960s, is one of the most profound eras - to exchange information, so people will have more insight into the music. We have to get the history before the history disappears. We’re blessed they are willing to share it with us.

"The jazz world is dominated by men," she said, "and women have not been able to have strong voices in the area or existence in the field. They have been unsung. They haven’t had their day. But jazz is a cultural life line, and these women must speak on the facts that relate to this rich cultural expression."

The festival continues through April 15. A highlight of the festival is the CBJC Gala at Sugarhill Supper Club [609 DeKalb Ave. at Nostrand Avenue, (718) 797-1727] on April 3 when the Consortium will induct its new slate of musicians and composers - with Brooklyn ties - into their jazz hall of fame.

Another highlight is the April 8 event at Sistas’ Place [456 Nostrand Ave. at Jefferson Avenue, (718) 398-1766]. They will host a performance by sax player Gary Bartz who will be collaborating with Akua Dixon’s Quartette Indigo at 8 pm. According to Ahmed Abdullah, the music director for Sistas’, their theme for this year’s events is "different and rare combinations of musicians." The Bartz-Dixon collaboration promises to be a real happening.

The festival closes on April 15, with a performance by the Vincent Herring All-Stars at the Up Over Jazz Cafe (351 Flatbush Ave. at Sterling Place, (718) 398-5413). According to Bob Myers, owner of the Jazz Cafe, Herring is a young, Prospect Heights resident, who is also "one of the hottest alto sax performers."

Herring will perform with Anthony Wonsey on piano, Richie Goods on bass and EJ Strickland on drums. After the quartet plays for the first half-hour, they will open it up to a jam session, said Myers.

"It should be a helluva party," he predicted. "A free-for-all really."

For more information about the Consortium and this year’s festival, call (718) 875-1016.

Where to GO

April 1, 9 pm
Pumpkins [1448 Nostrand Ave. at Church Avenue, (718) 284-9086]. Admission: $10
Roland Alexander All Stars

April 2, 3-7 pm
Brooklyn Borough Hall [209 Joralemon St. at Court Street, (718) 778-0009]. Admission: $20
Jazz and the Spoken Word with Spontaneous Combustion

April 3, 6 pm
Sugarhill Supper Club [609 DeKalb Ave. at Nostrand Avenue, (718) 875-1016]. Admission: $15

April 4, 8 pm
Brown Sugar Supper Club [433 Marcus Garvey Blvd. at Macon Street, (718) 919-4163]. Admission: $10
1st Circle Jazz Band

April 5, 8 pm
Jazz 966 [966 Fulton St. at Cambridge Place, (718) 638-6910]. Admission: $10
Dancing with Seleno Clarke Quartet

April 6, 1 pm ­ 3 pm
Skylight Gallery [1368 Fulton St. at New York Avenue, (718) 522-6515]. Admissions: $10
"Jazz: The Women’s Viewpoint," a panel discussion and performance

April 6, 9pm, 11 pm, and 1 pm
Up Over Jazz Cafe [351 Flatbush Ave. at Seventh Avenue, (718) 398-5413]. Admission: $20 cover, $5 minimum/set
Billy Harper Quintet

April 7, 5 ­ 9 pm
Sugarhill Supper Club [609 DeKalb Ave. at Nostrand Avenue, (718) 875-1016]. Admission: $15
Jazzpazazz: A Salute to Bob Cunningham

April 8, 8 pm
Sistas’ Place [456 Nostrand Ave. at Jefferson Avenue, (718) 398-1766].
Gary Bartz with Akua Dixon’s Quartette Indigo

April 9, 8 pm
Skylight Gallery [1368 Fulton St. at New York Avenue, (718) 636-6976]. Admission: $10
JazzAfrica with Atiba Wilson and Songhai Djeli

April 10
Sugarhill Supper Club [609 DeKalb Ave. at Nostrand Avenue, (718) 875-1016]. Admission: $15
Jazz & Blues with Frank Dell and NY Connection

April 11, 7 pm
Medgar Evers College auditorium [1650 Bedford Ave. between Crown and Montgomery streets, (646) 303-4286].
"Jazz in Fashion" with Theodros Avery and Torrie McCartney

April 12, 7 pm
Boys and Girls High School [1700 Fulton St. at Schenectady Avenue, (718) 771-7086]. Admission: (in advance) $15 for adults, $5 for children under 12
Carter G. Woodson Cultural Literacy Tribute to Chief Bey

April 12, noon ­ 9 pm and 10:30 pm
Sistas’ Place [456 Nostrand Ave. at Jefferson Avenue, (718) 398-1766].
Rashied Ali Trio

April 13, 9 am ­ 10 pm
Medgar Evers College [1650 Bedford Ave. between Crown and Montgomery streets, (718) 270-6145].
"Jazzswirl: Family Program": Orchestra conducted by Jack Jeffers

April 13, 12 ­ 6 pm
Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton St. at New York Avenue, (718) 636-6949].
Youth Jazz Jamboree: ensembles from Community School Districts 13, 16, 17 and educators

April 13, 10 pm
Williamsburg Music Center [367 Bedford Ave. at South Sixth Street, (718) 384-1654].
Williamsburg All-Stars with special guests

April 14, 3:30 pm
Concord Baptist Church of Christ [833 Gardner C. Taylor Blvd. at Putnam Avenue, (718) 434-4438].
Jazz Vespers

April 15, 9 pm
Up Over Jazz Cafe [351 Flatbush Ave. at Seventh Avenue, (718) 398-5413]. Admission: $10 cover, $5 minimum for the evening
Vincent Herring All-Stars

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