I don't make it uptown nearly as often as I should. Indeed, I'm ashamed to say that last night was the first time I've attended anything produced by Jazzmobile .
Billy Taylor and Daphne Arnstein founded Jazzmobile in 1964. Over the years I've seen various photos of great musicians actually playing on a truck (the "jazzmobile"). Looking around on the internet, I discovered some extraordinary shots of Barry Harris, Bennie Green, John Gilmore, Don Moore, and Billy Higgins on the Jazzmobile for Bud Powell's funeral procession in 1966 at Garage Hangover.
There wasn't a truck last night, just a great concert in an inviting park.
The whole American experiment seems to be contained in the location's full designation, "The Richard Rodgers Amphitheater at Marcus Garvey Park."
I got there early. It was a perfect night. I enjoyed thinking about history and watching some sights you'd never see at a gig downtown.
Christian Sands led a trio performing the music of his mentor, Billy Taylor. Noah Jackson was on bass and Mark Whitfield, Jr. was on drums.
It was a tight trio. I had never heard any of them before but they were all really strong. Sands can play anything he wants; last night he reminded us of how close gospel music and McCoy Tyner can be. Whitfield, unfazed by the roars of piano sound, held the reins in a marvelously relaxed fashion.
The full audience ate it up, giving them an ovation.
I was with Aaron Diehl, who introduced me to Christian afterwards. Not just Christian, but everyone I met last night in Harlem was fabulous and friendly. I've got to go back uptown more often.
(me, Diehl, Sands)
Afterwards I went to midtown where Steve Kuhn is in residency at Birdland with Dave Liebman, Buster Williams, and Billy Hart. Buster and Billy are one of the music's great rhythm sections. Every time they play together it is frankly a historical event. They let me be annoying and take this dim shot at one in the morning. Jazz in NYC, baby! It's why I moved here, no doubt.