All that jazz: Week-long music fest kicks off on Saturday

Home bass: Famed bass player Meshell Ndegeocello will play during the Jazz Fest music marathon on Oct. 12.
Associated Press / Abaca Press

These bands will blow you away!

The Bric Jazz Festival will kick off its fourth edition with a free outdoor concert from beloved local Afrobeat band Antibalas on Oct. 13. The 12-piece Williamsburg band, which is heavily inspired by the late Nigerian musician Fela Kuti and classical African music, will launch the annual week-long extravaganza of jazz with a set of tunes old, new, and never-heard-before, said the group’s founder.

“We have a new record that came out last year, and we’re going to perform that entire record and a selection of older tunes, and we might break out some stuff that we’ve been recording if we have time,” said Martin Perna.

The band has collaborated often with the Fort Greene arts organization, said Perna, and is thrilled to partner with them once again.

“We were actually supposed to do the festival last year, and we’ve done stuff with Bric a lot over the years — we’ve been fans of theirs and they’ve been fans of ours,” he said. “This lineup looks incredible, and we’re super excited to be part of this festival.”

Perna describes his band’s musical sound as a mixture of jazz and African tunes, with lyrics that have a jazzy influence.

“It’s a lot of jazz elements, and not every song we do is explicitly political but it’s in the themes and songs we talk about,” he said.

The Antibalas concert will be the first of five nights of free, jazz-related entertainment, followed by a three-night ticketed musical marathon. The on-the-house events approach the music genre from several different directions, including film, poetry, and dance.

The festival will screen two documentaries about jazz pioneers on Oct. 14. The 1988 film “Let’s Get Lost” chronicles the life of trumpet player Chet Baker, and in last year’s “Betty Davis: They Say I’m Different,” the funk singer talks about her standout career.

Some of the borough’s best spoken word poets will drop verses at the fest’s Brooklyn Poetry Slam on Oct. 15, and the following day will feature an interactive dance show inspired by saxophonist John Coltrane, titled “Walking with ’Trane.”

Closing out the non-musical portion of the festival on Oct. 17 will be a panel discussion led by Nate Chinen, the author of “Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century,” about the evolution of the music genre and its relevance in modern times.

All of these events are free with prior RVSP.

The jazz festival will conclude with a marathon of music on Oct. 18-20, with multiple performances taking place on three different stages of the Bric House at the same time. Artists on the lineup include Meshell Ndegeocello, Cyrus Chestnut, the Jazz Passengers, and a dozen more.

Antibalas at Bric Jazz Festival at the Plaza (300 Ashland Pl. at Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene, www.bricartsmedia.org). Oct. 13 at 3 pm. Free.

Music Marathon at Bric House [647 Fulton St. between Rockwell and Ashland places in Fort Greene, (718) 855-7882, www.bricartsmedia.org]. Oct. 18–20 at 7:30 pm. $35 ($30 in advance, three-day pass $75).

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
Jazzed to play: The 12-member Afrobeat jazz band Antibalas will open the Bric Jazz Festival on Oct. 13.
Michael Davis

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