BestofNJ.com took a short ride from New Jersey to Harlem (5.4 miles) on Tuesday to feature the best of the arts in the region. We were there to check out the new Minton’s on 118th Street in Harlem which was hosting a preview of … continues below …

the 4th annual Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival for members of the media, community leaders and festival performers.

Sheila Anderson, Host of Weekend Jazz After Hours on New Jersey’s own WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM, served as Mistress of Ceremony for the event. We were treated to an incredible preview of the music by four of the festival’s performers: pianist Arturo O’Farrill (Apollo Theater, May 10), pianist Aruan Ortiz (Harlem Stage, May 7) and pianist Danny Mixon (Minton’s, May 5) with vocalist Charenee Wade (Ginny’s Supper Club, May 9).

In addition to the schedule previews and music, we enjoyed the hors d’oeuvres and treats from Chef Alexander Smalls, who, along with businessman Richard Parsons, helped make the revival of one of New York City’s most famous jazz clubs possible.

The preview also celebrated Jazz Appreciation Month and International Jazz Day. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History designated April as Jazz Appreciation Month to draw greater public attention to the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz and its importance as an American cultural heritage.

The Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage and Jazzmobile, in collaboration with Columbia University, join forces to present the Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival from May 4 – 10, 2014. The cultural organizations will present a series of concerts and events to celebrate the rich legacy of jazz in the uptown community while bringing both established and emerging artists to famed Harlem venues. This year, the festival will pay tribute to The Savoy Ballroom, Minton’s Playhouse, Clark Monroe’s Uptown House, Showman’s Jazz Club, Capitol Palace, Park Palace, The Ubangi Club, Connie’s Inn, the Clam House, Small’s Paradise and the Apollo Theater.

In addition to concerts at jazz shrines throughout Harlem, festival events will take place at Harlem Stage Gatehouse, Cowin Auditorium at Teacher’s College, the new Minton’s, Ginny’s Supper Club, MIST Harlem, Abyssinian Baptist Church and The Riverside Theatre.

Designed to draw a diverse audience the events are free or $10.00 and up. Concerts are scheduled to allow people the option of attending several events each day, continuing the tradition of non-stop jazz throughout Harlem.

Highlights of the 2014 Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival include:

• The Apollo Theater presents Arturo O’Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and the world premiere of the Afro Latin Jazz Suite commissioned by the Apollo Theater. O’Farrill recasts his father, Chico O’Farrill’s, Afro Cuban Jazz Suite with a new generation of jazz masters, marking the 65th anniversary of this watershed work. Rounding out this red-hot program is a new composition by Arturo O’Farrill honoring Randy Weston and a selection of ALJO repertory works showcasing the 18-member orchestra’s virtuosity and breadth. The evening also includes special guests, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Freddy “Huevito” Lobatón, Café and Randy Weston with Billy Harper and Lewis Nash. (May 10)

• Harlem Stage presents The Vijay Iyer Trio featuring Stephen Crump and Marcus Gilmore paying homage to the Capitol Palace, in collaboration with the Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert Series. (May 9)

• Jazzmobile presents a five-night tribute to Minton’s Playhouse with New Legends on the Bandstand and Late Night Jams at the recently-opened Minton’s and Ginny’s Supper Club at Red Rooster featuring Antonio Hart, Christian Sands, TS Monk, TK Blue and Charenee Wade. (May 5- 9)

• The Apollo Theater gets into the groove with Showman’s Jazz Club for five nights to present Nathan Lucas, Kimberly Thompson, Jazmyn, Fred McFarlane, and Claudia Hayden. (May 6-10)

• Harlem Stage presents Christian aTunde Adjuah Double Quartet’s “Stretch Music,” a performance that introduces three completely new brass instruments, and extends the rhythmic, melodic and harmonic conventions of jazz to encompass a multitude of musical forms, languages and cultures. (May 8)

• Salute the Home of the Happy Feet when Jazzmobile presents Hopping at the Savoy Dance Party: Celebrating Frankie Manning’s 100th Birthday with the Harlem Renaissance Band at MIST Harlem. (May 10)

To find out more about the festival see the Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival Website.

 

New Jersey to Harlem: 18 to 20 minutes or 5.4 miles

Some of the people shown in the photos above include: Vocalist Charenee Wade, pianists Aruan Ortiz, Arturo O’Farrill and Danny Mixon, Simone Eccleston of Harlem Stage, Sheila Anderson of WBGO and Jazzmobile, Pat Cruz of Harlem Stage, Jonelle Procope of the Apollo Theater, Robin Bell-Stevens of Jazzmobile, Marcia Sells of Columbia University, Brad Learmonth of Harlem Stage, John Michael Kennedy of Goodman Media and Carolyn McClair of Carolyn McClair Public Relations.