Last week on July 5 in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, Buyu Ambroise and the Blues in Red Band kicked off Summerfest, Jazzmobile’s free mobile concert series. It’s Ambroise’s third year performing with Jazzmobile to a very receptive crowd.
As the blazing hot day began to cool in the park’s Richard Rogers Amphitheatre and, to the sounds of children’s cheers from a nearby ball field– part of summer’s sound track, Blues and Red Band took music lovers through their jazz paces.
Familiar standards like John Coltrane’s Naima immediately connected with the crowd. While the sextet played Wayne Shorter’s Footprints (an Ambroise staple), a lengthy dialogue-an interplay of strings and rhythm-took place between Bobby Raymond’s upright bass and Val Jeanty’s electronic table percussion that completely captivated the audience who felt the magic happening with this improvisation. From Ambroise’s original compositions, a mixture of traditional Haitian Konbit music and modern jazz, were L’ Esprit et Lecorps (Spirit and the Body) and from the Haitian songbook, Kouzen (Cousin) and Minouche.
Jazzmobile has been in Ambroise’s life since his early 20s when he studied under the guidance of jazz great Frank Foster (sax) and Jimmy Owens (trumpet and theory), part of Jazzmobile’s teaching staff. Jazzmobile has been part of the circle of Ambroise’s life in music or as he puts it, “I never left them and they never left me.”
Jazzmobile partners with neighborhood organizations and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, bringing top talent to underserved communities. In addition to Marcus Garvey Park, Summerfest’s gigs play at Grant’s Tomb, the North Academic Center Plaza at City College, and Stuyvesant Cove Park- E. 20th St. & FDR Drive, Jackie Robinson Park, Central Park near 106th, and W. 154th St. In Brooklyn in August, Summerfest goes to Brooklyn Bridge Park (great view of the East River) and also Louis Armstrong House in Corona. Jazz vocalist Lynette Washington who will be singing at Grant’s Tomb on July 31 was spotted in the audience.
Jazzmobile was founded in 1964 to bring free outdoor concerts to the public. The not-for-profit arts and cultural organization brings performances and educational programs to more than 100,000 New York City area residents annually.
The summer series of concerts runs through Friday, Aug. 23. For complete listing visit www.jazzmobile.org/#calendar.