(Spring 2009) The BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center proudly announces the 2009 Lost Jazz Shrines concert series, featuring appearances from a renowned group of internationally acclaimed jazz artists: bassist Ray Drummond, in The Art of The Duo Part I with special guests Renee Rosnes, Barry Harris, Bill Mays + fourth duo partner TBA; The John Hicks Legacy Band featuring Elise Wood-Hicks (flutes), Craig Handy (tenor saxophone), Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Larry Willis (piano), Curtis Lundy (bass) + Steve Williams (percussion), in A Tribute to John Hicks; and guitarist Peter Leitch in The Art of The Duo Part II with special guests George Cables, Dwayne Burno, Bobby Watson + Peter Bernstein. Each concert will be preceded by a FREE Humanities event at 7:00 PM (see info below).
This year, the annual Lost Jazz Shrines series will celebrate the legendary Bradley’s, formerly located in Greenwich Village at
. The club was opened in 1969 by Bradley Cunningham and originally featured piano and bass duos seven nights a week. This intimate spot was the place to hang for the jazz cognoscenti, and the destination for many jazz players after their gigs around town. Over the years the venue became "part jazz headquarters, part jazz college, part exhibition hall. Young musicians learned their craft playing next to masters here. And the club’s intimacy, with its 15 tables and 20 barstools, made the performances special, as if the musicians were playing in a living room, for themselves and by themselves", said Peter Watrous in The New York Times. If there was a jazz heaven on earth, Bradley’s was it. Art Blakey held court there whenever he was in town until the wee hours of the morning; Carmen McRae would spontaneously appear and sing an entire set with Hank Jones; Cecil Taylor would talk shop with Tommy Flanagan at the bar (The New York Times), and it became very much the nerve center of the jazz scene at that time.
Bradley Cunningham, a pianist himself, naturally turned Bradley’s into a pianist’s paradise. Over the years he presented a virtual history of modern jazz piano with regular performances by the likes of John Hicks (who played there so often it became loosely known as the "House of Hicks"), Kenny Barron, Larry Willis, Jimmy Rowles, Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, George Cables, Chris Anderson and many many others. The piano itself had its own story, donated to the club by saxophonist Paul Desmond (of Dave Brubeck fame).
"Mr. Cunningham, a pianist, was known for his musical knowledge and respect for musicians. He was friendly with many well-known New York jazz pianists, such as Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Joanne Brackeen and Kenny Barron, who frequently performed at Bradley’s, and often visited after finishing their sets at other clubs." – The New York Times
Cunningham passed away in November of 1988, and his wife Wendy (once a waitress at the club) carried on the day to day operations of the venue. Under her direction Bradley’s became the stomping ground and finishing school for a new wave of young jazz stars, including Roy Hargrove, Cyrus Chestnut, Stephen Scott, Bruce Barth and others, until it was forced to close under financial strain in October of 1996. It was a great loss to the NYC jazz community who held the venue in high esteem and thought of it as much more than just another place to play. ”We felt that this was our territory, one of jazz’s last great spiritual places,” said the late pianist James Williams in The New York Times.
The Lost Jazz Shrines series is dedicated to bringing legendary NYC jazz clubs back into the consciousness of the world with a thorough remembrance and celebration. The Lost Jazz Shrines Series will encompass three concerts (Fridays, May 8, May 15 and May 29), each of them proceeded by a FREE Humanities Program with live interviews and films that showcase some of the celebrated figures associated with Bradley’s.
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