Seeing the line-up for the first ever Blue Note Jazz Festival totally blew my wig back. It features a Who’s Who list of artists that have been instrumental in making the jazz club legendary. The Blue Note has been home to not just jazz phenoms, but also to young artists that span soul, hiphop, funk and rock, so it’s no surprise that the festival features a fantastic range of talent. What is so delightfully surprising is that the majority of the artists taking part in the festival are women.
Essence Music Festival look out because the Blue Note fest features Chaka Khan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Estelle, Kathleen Battle, Alice Smith, Roberta Flack, Ayo, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Chrisette Michelle, and Nancy Wilson. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the legendary jazz club, the festival’s headliners of the opposite sex are not to be slept on either. They include The Roots, Gary Bartz, Bilal and McCoy Tyner.
But it’s the ladies on the bill that have folks throughout NYC buzzing. Meshell, having already hit Cali with her much hyped Price tribute show, will finally show-off her goods TONIGHT in the Big Apple, Dee Dee Bridgewater will perform her award-winning tribute to Billie Holiday with opening act Chrisette Michelle performing a jazz infused set of favorites from Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Lady Holiday (6/24), and Ayo finally returns to NYC after a 5-year Stateside hiatus (6/30).
Jill Newman Productions, a partner in the festival and longtime NYC producer has put together a show that has quelled my longstanding jonesin’ for now defunct estrogen-centered festivals of yesteryear like the Lilith Fair, Black Lily and Kalifly. Although she states that the femme heavy line-up wasn’t by design, Jill Newman admitted to me that “it’s wonderful it ended-up that way.” Having produced shows for Eartha Kitt, Jill Scott, the late, great Gil Scott Heron and Corinne Bailey Rae just to name a few, Jill Newman Productions has become a company of note. Jill says she creates projects “based on artists that I love coming together — to me, it’s not jazz, it’s all music. It’s very important to me to make sure that the artists whom I’ve produced over the years, who I feel are very special to the music world, are represented.”
If you will be in NYC at any time in June do yourself a favor and celebrate Black Music Month by checking out the Blue Note Jazz Festival.