New York is a jazz city, throughout the year there are concerts and performances by the best musicians in the world. But what makes the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival so special is not only that the music is brilliant, but that it brings together the coolest of the cool, in Harlem, and in daylight!
We were treated to an amazing day at Marcus Garvey Park yesterday. The benches in the amphitheater were packed, and people continued to steam in with their own fold-up chairs, cheerfully jostling for position. Hats were essential for the heat of the sun, and were part of the vibe along with t-shirts boasting attendance of jazz festivals past. Plates of fried chicken, and black beans & rice were passed between friends, and calls of ‘brother’ across the crowd showed there were many. As expected there was a great blend of people – many of the older ones we recognised from the Midsummer Night Swing – as well as locals and children mixing it up. The first couple of gigs were interesting, but late in the day a cool breeze and Rene Marie took the stage at the same time, and the whole atmosphere changed. Backed by piano, bass & drums she had everyone moving with her fabulous voice and those superb rhythms. People sang along and a couple almost stole the show with their dancing. It was one of those joyous unforgettable days. Rene will be performing with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in December, but yesterday she was hitting the groove in Harlem and there was much to celebrate. She even had a little philosophical advice – ‘free your mind and the rest will follow….’