The Billie Holiday Zone – Harlem Singers’ Series
Fridays will never be the same. There’s no place like Harlem and there’s no other vocalist series like this one in the clandestine Gin Fizz – a speakeasy hidden in plain sight.
Tickets in cooperation with AirBnB Concerts.
March 16, 2018 at Gin Fizz
Boncellia Lewis with
Shareef Clayton, trumpet
Hilliard Greene, bass
Frank Fallon, drums
Paul Odeh, keys
Gin Fizz, 308 Lenox Ave. (125th / 126th Streets). 2 /3 Subway to 125th Street. Doors: 6:30. 1st set: 7PM. 2nd set: 8:30PM
It’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t love Billie Holiday. Her voice, her phrasing, her songwriting, her commanding presence, and her life story all compel us toward this devotion. Lady Day stands alone as a figure in popular culture who has left her mark on generation after generation of artists and music lovers without diminishment. She may have been sidelined by the authorities of her day – clearly threatened by a fiercely independent black woman singing about lynching and living life on her own terms – but she persevered through countless hardships leaving us the legacy of her endless inspiration.
Since Billie spent her teenage years into her 30’s as a Harlemite we thought it fitting to showcase the talents of uptown performers in a singers series dedicated in her honor. Starting recently with a stage stomping, rafter shaking performance by blues shouter, Seydurah Avecmoi, the series continued last Friday with the unparalleled Lynette Washington.
In the summer of 2012, I had taken a small group on a jazz tour of Harlem. We happened upon a Jazzmobile presentation of Lynette at Jackie Robinson Park which ended with her signature rendition of Nina Simone’s Images/Four Women. It knocked me out and I committed then and there to find a way to present Ms. Washington in an intimate setting where the power of her performance could work its magic without distraction in a jazz loving space.
Similarly stirring performers have attracted my attention over the last 20 years and now I am partnered with a beautiful place in which to showcase all this talent.
Gin Fizz is that intimate setting. Hidden in plain sight, right next door to the world famous Red Rooster, you climb the stairs to a heavenly jazz lounge taken straight out of a location scout’s dream come true. The Harlem of Billie Holiday that moved from Prohibition to bebop in legendary clubs like Pod and Jerry’s, The Lenox Lounge, and Minton’s Playhouse is perfectly captured in this classic space. The food and service is getting rave reviews from last week’s guests and we’re very pleased to have found this gem of a club to partner with every other week for this tribute.
We are also delighted to have the support and encouragement of Airbnb Concerts to market and distribute tickets to music fans world-wide who share our vision of travel as an interactive experience for the engaged and the curious. These tickets are available as supplies last only through this link. Our roster of performers are all chosen for their ability to summon up the spirit of singers like Billie Holiday who could captivate an audience with a glance and keep us in their sway with two sets of sheer power and raw talent. If you’ve ever seen or heard bass player, Alex Blake; drummer, Tommy Campbell; and keyboardist, Dennis Bell (all three on the March 2nd gig with Lynette), you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Check this blog for concert updates and keep us in mind for your upcoming Friday night plans with friends, or jump on a Harlem jazz tour with Amanda, who will include this show in the night’s events. (see tour links).
Top Cat, Big Apple Jazz Tours
Seydurah Avecmoi – Feb 16, 2018
Lynette Washington – March 2, 2018
Boncellia Lewis with Shareef Clayton – March 16, 2018
Melanie Charles – March 30, 2018
Emily Braden – April 27, 2018
Peter Valera with Gary Samuels – May 25, 2018