Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Aug. 23-27: The Wallace Roney Orchestra, Lionel Loueke, Kenny Barron, Cindy Blackman Santana and More Set for City Parks Foundation’s Charlie Parker Jazz Festival

beb85457-3c49-48f2-97e0-18b7e217fb19City Parks Foundation is presenting the 22nd edition of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, which kicks off on Saturday, August 23, 2014 in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, blocks from the famous jazz clubs where Parker graced the stage, and moves to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village on Sunday, August 24, 2014, just across the street from the late Parker’s apartment. The festival was founded in memoriam of beloved jazz musician Charlie Parker.

In the words of Miles Davis, “You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.” Almost sixty years after his passing, Parker is celebrated and credited for his contribution to modern music through rhythmically and melodically complex solos and his creation of the bebop sound. The acts in this year’s festival will offer a wide range of performances reflective of Parker’s music and of the ever-changing genre of jazz. From Wallace Roney to Brianna Thomas, this year’s lineup will feature both jazz veterans and up-and-coming stars alike.

The 2014 festival also features two panel discussions, entitled “The Marriage of Latin Music & Jazz,” led by Joe Conzo Sr., Latin music historian & publicist of the late Tito Puente. The panels will explore the historical background and cultural significance of these two movements and pay specific homage to Parker’s influence.

The complete Charlie Parker Jazz Festival schedule follows. For up-to-date scheduling and lineup for all SummerStage programming, follow SummerStage via the links below and visit

Twitter: @SummerStage
Instagram: @summerstagenyc

Charlie Parker Jazz Festival 2014 Schedule

Day Date Time Event Location Genre
Friday Aug 22 6:30 PM Panel: “The Marriage of Latin Music & Jazz” The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music Panel Discussion
Saturday Aug 23 3:00 PM The Wallace Roney Orchestra / Lionel Loueke / Melissa Aldana / Kris Bowers with special guest Chris Turner Marcus Garvey Park Concert
Sunday Aug 24 3:00 PM Kenny Barron / Cindy Blackman Santana / Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith / Brianna Thomas Tompkins Square Park Concert
Wednesday Aug 27 6:30 PM Panel: “The Marriage of Latin Music & Jazz” Pelham Fritz Center, Marcus Garvey Park Panel Discussion

Charlie Parker Jazz Festival 2014 Lineup

Friday, August 22
Panel Discussion: “The Marriage of Latin Music & Jazz” with Joe Conzo Sr.
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music (55 W. 13th St.)
In celebration of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, join Joe Conzo Sr. for a discussion and music of Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Machito, and other great artists from the early 1930’s to the present who brought together Latin Music and Jazz.
Joe Conzo Sr. is a Latin music historian, Tito Puente’s publicist and confidant, and author of Mambo Diablo, My Journey with Tito Puente. Conzo will play rare live recordings of Charlie Parker with the Machito Orchestra from his private collection. Q & A to follow.
Space is limited so please rsvp to to reserve a seat.
In partnership with The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music.
Free. Seating is first come, first served.

Wallace Roney. Photo by Lia Chang

Wallace Roney. Photo by Lia Chang

Saturday, August 23
The Wallace Roney Orchestra / Lionel Loueke / Melissa Aldana / Kris Bowers with special guest Chris Turner
3:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem (Mount Morris Park West at West 122nd Street)
Wallace Roney earned the admiration and respect of his colleagues and his elders since age 16. He has been an integral part of the band with Tony Williams, Ornette Coleman, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Walter Davis Jr., Herbie Hancock, Jay McShann, David Murray, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Curtis Fuller, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Dizzy Gillespie to name a few. He was one of the few musicians in his generation who learned and perfected his craft directly from alliances with Jazz Masters. But his most important and meaningful relationship was with Miles Davis. Wallace was mentored by Miles Davis after Miles heard him in 1983 at his birthday gala performance in Carnegie Hall. Their association peaked when Miles chose Wallace to share the stage at his historic performance in Montreux in 1991.

In what must be one of the grandest musical gestures imaginable, Wayne Shorter, one of the most important composers in the history of Jazz music and arguably the greatest living composer in Jazz today, bestowed on to Wallace Roney the scores to two large scale, large ensemble pieces that Wayne conceived and composed for Miles when he was still in the band but were never recorded (or even performed) and told Wallace he was now the person who could best fully realize these works. These two major works, Legend (composed in 1967) and Universe (composed in 1968 and 69) are amazing in their scope and breadth (they are written for as many as 18 pieces, including english horn, bassoon, french horn, flutes and clarinet along with more traditional instrumentation) and show Wayne to already be a fully formed masterful composer and orchestrator of large scale works at this early date in his career. Wayne also included a third unrecorded composition, Twin Dragon which was written for Miles in 1981 at his request as he was looking for material to perform for his comeback. Wallace Roney, who has performed and recorded with Wayne and was Miles Davis’ only protégé, has become a pivotal artist on the scene in his own right. With his vast experience with these great artists, he is clearly the right choice to bring this important music to life.

Hailed as a “gentle virtuoso” by Jon Pareles of The New York Times, guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke follows up his acclaimed Blue Note releases Karibu and Mwaliko with the extraordinary Heritage. Co-produced by piano great and Blue Note label mate Robert Glasper, Heritage finds Loueke at the helm of a new lineup with a more electric sound. In addition, Loueke, long known for his nylon-string acoustic guitar, does not feature that instrument on Heritage. He transitions to steel-string acoustic and electric guitars A veteran of bands led by Terence Blanchard and Herbie Hancock, Loueke is bringing jazz into vibrant contact with the sounds of West Africa, in particular his native Benin. The title Heritage is a direct reference to his personal odyssey. “I have two heritages,” Loueke says. “One is from my ancestors from Africa, and that goes through my music, my body, my soul, every aspect of what I do. But also I have the heritage from the Occident, from the West, from Europe and the U.S. I speak English, I speak French, and I have that heritage too. I called this album Heritage because I’ve been blessed by all different parts of the world, and most of the songs reflect that.”

25-year old-Chilean saxophonist and composer Melissa Aldana had already caught the ears of the New York jazz scene before winning the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition last September – the first female instrumentalist and first South American to do so in the history of the competition. Now the entire world are discovering her. She picked up the saxophone by age 6, inspired by her father Marcos Aldana – himself a world class saxophonist – and he taught her how to transcribe the solos of great saxophonists – not least Charlie Parker. On stage she is joined by her “Crash Trio” featuring bassist Pablo Menares, also from Chile, & Cuban drummer Francisco Mela (dr) as she was on her forthcoming June 17 Concord Records album also entitled “Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio”.

Pianist Kris Bowers is one of the newest and brightest lights on the jazz landscape. Schooled in jazz and classical music, raised amid the rap and hip-hop of the 1990s, inspired by the cinematic power of the great film composers of recent decades, Bowers’ sound – though rooted in traditional styles – is open to numerous external influences that keep the music fresh and vibrant for a new century. This rich and eclectic sensibility is evident from the very first notes of Heroes + Misfits, an ambitious debut album that positions Bowers at the forefront of a talented sextet and showcases a musical and compositional style that – while clearly rooted in the jazz tradition – is also reflective of an eclectic musical age. Bowers musical sensibilities were taking shape before he even saw the light of day. The story has it that his parents positioned headphones on his mother’s belly and piped soft jazz directly into his evolving consciousness in the months before he was born. And it was just the beginning.

This classically trained crooner is a soul singer for the ages and a writer for our times. Starting at four years old, Chris Turner was a member of the Kairos Youth Choir, at nine with the San Francisco Opera Company, the Young Musicians Program at the University of California (YMP), the School of the Arts (SOTA) in San Francisco and was the featured vocalist for the SF Jazz High School All-Stars.  In the GRAMMY High School Jazz Ensemble, he performed with many GRAMMY artists. Chris graduated from the New School University for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Chris has toured worldwide with Esperanza Spalding and Bilal and he recently opened for Gregory Porter at Town Hall in NYC. He performed on BET “106 & Park” as a MusicMatters “Artist To Watch” and premiered his first single, “Liquid Love”.  Chris currently has a digital mix tape called “LOVElife Is A Challenge” and is featured on new recordings by Eric Harland, Kris Bowers, and Harvey Mason Sr.
Free. Seating is first come, first served.

Sunday, August 24
Kenny Barron / Cindy Blackman Santana / Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith / Brianna Thomas
3:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Tompkins Square Park, East Village (East 7th Street between Avenues A and B)
When Kenny Barron first heard that the National Endowment for the Arts inducted him into its prestigious Jazz Masters class of 2010, he felt honored to be among the greats of the music who have also received the U.S.’s top honor in jazz. “I was excited at the acknowledgment of my service,” says the 66-year pianist whose solo career has also garnered him numerous awards in jazz critics and readers polls. “I’ve been playing music for a long time, and this award reflects that I’ve made a significant contribution.” One of the most renowned, most lyrical—and busiest—pianists in jazz today, Barron is a multiple-Grammy nominee, was honored with induction into the American Jazz Hall of Fame (2005), and received the MAC Lifetime Achievement Award (2005) and the Mid Atlantic Arts Living Legacy Award (2009). Also in 2009, Barron was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an esteemed honorary society and center for independent policy research.  As a composer, arranger and bandleader, Barron has spent five decades at the forefront of the jazz piano aristocracy. An in-demand sideman in his early days on the jazz scene, the Philadelphia native launched his solo career in 1973 with Sunset to Dawn, released by Muse Records. He has recorded more than forty albums as a leader, including his latest, The Traveler, in 2008, on Universal France/Sunnyside.

Cindy Blackman Santana is a virtuoso drummer whose artistry spans the realms of jazz and rock. As a bandleader and as a musician, Cindy is a sound innovator with a passion for pushing creative boundaries and exploring movement and change. She is as known for the nuances and colors she brings to her beats and fills as she is for the sheer power of her soulful playing. Cindy has been creating magnificent musical time and space since the beginning of her career as a busking street performer in New York City in the ’80s through the present day, touring the globe and making albums at the top of her game— both with her own bands as well as artists like Pharoah Sanders, Cassandra Wilson, Bill Laswell, Joss Stone, Joe Henderson, Buckethead, Don Pullen, Hugh Masakela, Lenny Kravitz and Angela Bofill. Most recently, Cindy has been sitting in with Santana. While substituting for Dennis Chambers at a Santana show in early 2010, Cindy and Carlos sparked a relationship, on and off the stage, that led to their Marriage in 2010. In addition to her work with Another Lifetime, Cindy & Carlos plan to collaborate on projects that will no doubt reflect their shared passion for improvisation, and belief in the transcendent nature of music.

Born in Oakland, CA, as a music-hungry youngster, Craig Handy experimented on guitar, trombone, and piano before settling on his first true love, the saxophone. His distinctive sound and authentic instrumental prowess were immediately noticed by artists of stature. Handy moved to New York in 1986 and began several associations with formidable  artists including Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater,  master drummers Art Blakey and Roy Haynes, South African melodist Abdullah Ibrahim, and the Mingus Dynasty Band. For the past several years, Handy has recorded or toured consistently with guitarist John Scofield, trumpeter Charles Tolliver, the John Hicks Legacy Band, and most notably The Cookers – a collective of stalwart leaders renowned for playing that simmers or surges to a boiling point – with brethren Billy Harper, George Cables, Eddie Henderson, Billy Hart, Cecil McBee, and David Weiss. In 2014, Handy returns as an original bandleader and party-starter for his new touring and recording project. Titled Craig  Handy & 2nd Line Smith, Handy draws from his fondness for the music of New Orleans, smack attached to the groove-filled re-imaginings of originals and standards by the late, great organist  Jimmy Smith. The release includes cameos by Dee Dee Bridgewater and Wynton Marsalis while filling a rotating drum chair with Jason Marsalis, Herlin Riley, Ali Jackson, and Steve Williams. But the band at the core of the recording springs out of Handy’s current residence in Weehawken, NJ, and shines a light on organist Kyle Koehler, guitarist Matt Chertkoff, and sousaphonist Clark Gayton.

According to Will Friedwald at The Wall Street Journal, vocalist Brianna Thomas “… may well be the best young straight-ahead jazz singer of her generation.” Thomas was born and raised in Peoria, IL where she first cut her teeth as a performer.  Initially taught and influenced by her Father, drummer and vocalist Charlie Thomas, Brianna comes from a rich background of diverse musical influences.  Brianna  moved to NYC in 2007 to attend college at The New School University and has since established herself as a talented vocalist on the scene today. Since graduating in 2011 she has performed with jazz greats Wycliffe Gordon, Wynton Marsalis, Russell Malone, The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra and longtime hero Dianne Reeves. Thomas has also performed Nationally and Internationally ranging from the  “Women In Jazz Festival” at Jazz At Lincoln Center to the prestigious Montreaux, Umbria, Bern and Sochi Jazz Festivals.  Brianna recently released her debut album “You Must Believe In Love” Feb 17th 2014 on Sound On Purpose Records. The best illustration of Ms Thomas is given by the words of legendary trombonist and Jazz Messenger Curtis Fuller : “a marvelous new artist who has all it takes to reach the top of the jazz profession and music in general.”
Free. Seating is first come, first served.

Wednesday, August 27
Panel Discussion: “The Marriage of Latin Music & Jazz”
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Pelham Fritz Center, Marcus Garvey Park (18 Mount Morris Park West)
In celebration of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, join Joe Conzo Sr. for a discussion and music of Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Machito, and other great artists from the early 1930’s to the present who brought together Latin Music and Jazz.
Joe Conzo Sr. is a Latin music historian, Tito Puente’s publicist and confidant, and author of Mambo Diablo, My Journey with Tito Puente. Conzo will play rare live recordings of Charlie Parker with the Machito Orchestra from his private collection. Q & A to follow.
Space is limited so please rsvp to to reserve a seat.
In partnership with The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music.
Free. Seating is first come, first served.

About City Parks Foundation 
City Parks Foundation (CPF) is the only independent, nonprofit organization to offer park programs throughout the five boroughs of New York City. We work in over 750 parks citywide, presenting a broad range of free arts, sports, and education programs, and empowering citizens to support their parks on a local level. Our programs and community building initiatives reach more than 600,000 people each year, contributing to the revitalization of neighborhoods throughout New York City.

The 2014 SummerStage festival is presented by:
Time Warner, Disney, Lagunitas, Ommegang, Six Point, Peter Cooper Village, Bloomberg, Forest City Ratner, City Winery, and JWT are official SummerStage sponsors. Additional funding generously provided by The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation; The Norman E. Alexander Family M Foundation; The Shubert Foundation; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; New York State Council on the Arts; National Endowment for the Arts, though the Access to Artistic Excellence Program; NYC Council Member Rosie Mendez; NYC Council Member Debi Rose.

Media sponsors include:
Time Out New York, WNET, Relix, Remezcla, El Especial & El Especialito, Zoom Media & Marketing, The Village Voice, WNET, WNYC, WFUV, WBGO, NBC New York, Big Screen Project, and Globe Star Media n Entertainment.

In all of its programming and activities, City Parks Foundation partners with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to improve neighborhood parks and the communities they serve.

Other articles by Lia Chang:
Aug. 16: Hiroshima & Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble Perform Benefit Concerts for Palo Alto Buddhist Temple 100th Anniversary
Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, President Bill Clinton and More Remember Meshach Taylor
Photos: Meshach Taylor Celebrates 67th Birthday with Arlene and Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, Jean Smart, Dennis Franz, Ernie Hudson, John Heard, Keith Szarabajka, Stuart Gordon, Shadoe Stevens and More
Dinner with André De Shields at Chez Josephine
Late Night Singing with Garth Kravits at 54 Below with The Skivvies, at Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Birdland and Michael Raye’s Soul Gathering
Aug. 17: David Henry Hwang, Adriane Lenox, Chuck Cooper, Kevin Carolan, Stephanie J. Block, Caissie Levy & More will Sleep on the Streets for Covenant House’s Sleep Out: Broadway Edition
Two-time Tony Nominee and Emmy Winner André De Shields Performs FREDERICK DOUGLASS: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory and Speaks on The Wisdome of The Ancient Art of Storytelling at AFP 2014: Change Through Stories, Sept. 8-9, 2014
Photos: Maxine Hong Kingston, Billie Tsien, Bill T. Jones, Linda Ronstadt, John Kander, Julia Alvarez, Jeffrey Katzenberg Receive 2013 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama 
Golden Globe Winner James Shigeta, Veteran of Film and TV, Dies at 85; Excerpts of 2007 A/P/A Institute Q & A with Sukhdev Sandhu
Photos: Artist Arlan Huang, One Brush Stroke at a Time
Photos and Video: Ben Vereen Performs at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream
Photos and Video: Obba Babatunde and cast members from the original cast of Dreamgirls perform at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream
Photos & Video: The Wiz’s André De Shields Sang “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard” in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall
Ruby Dee, Actress and Activist, 1922 – 2014
Bryan Cranston, Audra McDonald, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessie Mueller, Lena Hall, Sophie Okonedo, Kenny Leon, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, All The Way, A Raisin in the Sun, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and More Take Home 2014 Tony Awards
Signature Theatre to Be Honored with the 2014 Regional Theatre Tony Award
Remembering Civil Rights Activist Yuri Kochiyama, 1921-2014
Branden Jacob-Jenkins’ Appropriate, Lisa Kron’s Fun Home, Sonya Tayeh, Emmanuel Brown, Mia Katigbak, K. Todd Freeman, John Earl Jelks Among 2014 OBIE Award Winners
Lucille Lortel Awards for Here Lies Love, Fun Home, The Open House, Good Person of Szechwan 
David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage Appointed to the Playwriting Faculty of Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Program
Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang Receives $275,000 Doris Duke Artist Award
Signature’s Production of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu, starring Cole Horibe, Phoebe Strole and Francis Jue, extends through April 6, 2014 
Photos: Backstage and Opening Night of Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu 
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards 
Photos: Backstage with Michi Barall and the cast of Regina Taylor’s stop.reset. at Signature Theatre 
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party 
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

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