Thursday, September 2, 2010

Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, and the magnificent McCoy Tyner

It was late night Friday, and I was still at work, wrapping things up prior to a week of staycation.

The phone rang.  Uncle F calling from Connecticut.

"I've just turned 60, and need to do something to celebrate. I'm coming down to New York for the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival.  I know it's last minute, but do you want to go?"

I'm not usually into jazz, and I knew none of the names he mentioned would be playing.  What I did know is that if you want to do jazz properly, you should go with Uncle F.  He knows everything there is to know about jazz- the big guys, the little guys, who collaborated with whom and when, the personal histories of the musicians.


Saturday had perfect summer weather-- bright and sunny, not too hot.  We arrived at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem two hours early, and joined about twenty other fans at a choice spot in the shade.  I was so glad that we arrived when we did-- by the time the show started, the northern part of the park contained, in my estimation, well over a thousand people.

The ticket:


Uncle F provided interesting commentary throughout the concert.  Revive Da Live was fun:

JD Allen Trio was good but my least favorite:

Jason Moran was lovely, both to look at and to listen to:

During a break, Charlie Rangel greeted the crowd, who listened politely.  Signs decorated the park, reminding people that "He Delivers".  No hint of the hot water he's currently in.

But the real star was McCoy Tyner.  I have no photographs of him, as he requested that there be none (though that didn't stop some individuals).  He's 71 years old, and the crowd was absolutely transfixed once he started playing.  I stopped breathing, astonished.  The music roared through the park, and soaked into every cell in my body.

And it was thus that I became a jazz fan.


  1. "The music roared through the park, and soaked into every cell in my body.

    And it was thus that I became a jazz fan."

    Nice! Might I suggest the following. Oliver Nelson's "Blues and the Abstract Truth." It is remarkable!

  2. What a nice gift! (and happy birthday).

    The Times had a nice article a while back on the benches in Central Park that people had adopted.

  3. Thanks for the article, Peter-- it's wonderful!