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Jazzmobile, Inc. Celebrates 2014 Harlem Shrines Jazz Festival

Minton's Playhouse Jazz Shrines Preview
Judith Davis

The Apollo Theater, Jazzmobile and Harlem Stage do it again as they prepare for the 2014 Harlem Shrines Jazz Festival. This year they are presenting some of today's hottest jazz artists at the fourth annual Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival (HJSF), May 4 - 10, with a series of swinging events at the newly-renovated Minton's, Ginny's Supper Club, The Riverside Theatre and MIST Harlem.

Jazzmobile's HJSF events include a salute to the Savoy Ballroom with a tribute to Lindy Hop dancer extraordinaire Frankie Manning featuring The Harlem Renaissance Orchestra plus lecture/dance demonstrations with the Cecil Bridgewater Big Band; a discussion on Charlie Parker with authors Stanley Crouch and Professor Farah Jasmine Griffin;the Jazzmobile Vocal Competition Kick-Off; and Minton's Playhouse: New Legends on the Bandstand, honoring the legendary birthplace of bebop with alto saxophonists Antonio Hart and T.K. Blue, pianist Christian Sands, singer Charenee Wade and a live recording session featuring drummer T.S. Monk and his Sextet.

Co-founded by NEA Jazz Master, pianist/educator/broadcaster Dr. Billy Taylor and former arts patron Daphne Arnstein, Jazzmobile has been a HJSF partner/presenter - along with The Apollo Theatre and Harlem Stage, York - since the festival's inception. Together, this terrific triad - in collaboration with Columbia University in the City of New - fulfills the festival's mission to pay tribute to the panorama of the Harlem Renaissance-era jazz clubs, speakeasies, supper clubs, cabarets, dance halls and churches that gave birth to modern and Latin jazz, which laid the foundations for R&B, soul, salsa and hip-hop. The seven-night salute includes stellar presentations throughout Harlem's 21st Century venues, featuring emerging and established artists, panel discussions, dances, films and more.

Jazzmobile's HJSF shout-out to the golden age of jazz starts with the immortal Minton's Playhouse, the after-hours joint where musicians relaxed and jammed when they were finished with their "legitimate" gigs. Run by saxophonist and musician's union rep Teddy Hill, the club was born in the Hotel Cecil on West 118th Street. It's no wonder that Ralph Ellison wrote that Minton's Playhouse was where "Dizzy Gillespie found his own trumpeter voice ... Kenny Clarke worked out patterns of his drumming style; where Charlie Christian played out the last creative and truly satisfying moments of his brief life ... where Charlie Parker built the monument of his art; [and] where Thelonious Monk formulated his contribution to the chordal progressions and the hide-and-seek melodic methods of jazz," all of which led to the creation of bebop. Minton's Playhouse, the time-defying temple-of-tempo-and-tone, operated for several decades until it closed in 1974. Former Time Warner, Inc. executive Richard Parsons reopened it as Minton's Restaurant in 2013.

For more information on the Harlem Shrines Jazz Festival, visit their website at: http://harlemjazzshrines.org.