The Catskill Jazz Factory and The New Generation Festival are excited to present the world première of The Spirit of Harlem, a one of a kind celebration of Harlem featuring a collective of some of the most outstanding musical voices of today’s jazz renaissance under the direction of “trumpeter of abundant poise” (New York Times) Dominick Farinacci.
Jazz has had a timeless tradition of honoring its forefathers and reinterpreting the standards of their mentors and greatest inspirations. Keeping with this tradition, The Spirit of Harlem features unique, modern interpretations that pay homage to the most iconic moments of Harlem’s musical past, paving the way for generations and interpretations to come.
“The performing arts play a truly vital role in creating dialogue and communication across societies,” says Catskill Jazz Factory founder/artistic director Piers Playfair. “It is an honor to be participating in this trans-Atlantic project of enormous cultural substance.”
Narrated by spoken word artist and poet Orlando Watson, The Spirit of Harlem takes us on a musical journey through Harlem's most iconic jazz venues, recreating the vibes and rich musical past through pitstops on Ellington’s A Train to Minton's Playhouse, the Lafayette Theater, the Savoy Ballroom and beyond. Iconic artists such as James P. Johnson, Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker are reimagined by this extraordinary ensemble.
The Spirit of Harlem begins in the Catskills this August with a week-long artist residency in the Catskill Jazz Factory hometown of Tannersville, NY, with performances at Hudson Hall, 23Arts Summer Music Festival, The Falcon, and National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Following their New York stay, The Spirit of Harlem band flies to Florence, Italy for its official world première at The New Generation Festival on Friday, August 30. The festival première culminates in an original commissioned orchestral arrangement, composed by Steven Feifke and performed by The New Generation Festival Orchestra under the baton of Maximilian Fane.
Featured in The Spirit of Harlem alongside bandleader and trumpeter Dominick Farinacci and spoken word artist Orlando Watson are the likes of “history in the making” (Boston Globe) vocalist Shenel Johns and “prodigy” (New York Times) tap dancer Michela Marino Lerman, and “world-class” (BBC) Christian Tamburr, vibraphone. The ensemble also features some of the best and brightest instrumentalists out of the current NYC jazz scene; saxophonist Patrick Bartley Jr, bassist Russell Hall, pianist Mathis Picard, and drummer Kyle Poole.
Farinacci says, “As the bandleader, I'm most passionate about communicating the real story of Harlem, with all of its complexities, hardships, beautiful moments and brilliant genius, in a way that speaks to the multitude of challenges our country faces today. Having some of the greatest artists on the planet to help tell this musical story through the lens of 2019 musical culture will shed light on the connectivity between jazz and popular music of today.”
Featuring: Harlem Stride Medley | Minnie the Moocher | I Remember Harlem | Strange Fruit | Trinkle Tinkle
Night in Tunisia | Dizzy Atmosphere | April in Paris | So In Love | Stardust |Round Midnight | Sing Sing Sing
Based in the heart of the Catskills, New York State, the Catskill Jazz Factory is a “regional arts think-tank” and “formidable jazz incubator” (HV Almanac Weekly) founded in 2012 with an aim to support today’s best young jazz artists. Catskill Jazz Factory offers year-round school workshops, concerts, mountaintop residencies, lectures, and world-class performances in diverse spaces to a variety of regional audiences across the Hudson Valley, NYC and beyond by partnering with educational facilities, arts organizations, and a variety of non-profits and businesses.
Venues range from mountaintop coffee & donut shops and local high schools to recent concert series collaborations with venues including the New York Botanical Garden, the Fisher Center for Performing Arts at Bard College, and the Uncharted Series at Greenwich House. Recent project leaders include such esteemed artists as Cecile McLorin Salvant, Dan Tepfer, Damien Sneed, Keyon Harrold, and Brianna Thomas, to name a few.