Music

Gordon Lightfoot performing in Interlochen, Michigan in 2009. Photo courtesy of Charles Backfish

By Rita J. Egan

WUSB’s Sunday Street Series at The Long Island Museum has a tradition of bringing artists together to celebrate musical legends. On March 24, they will be adding a bit of Canadian flair.

The series will present Long Island Celebrates Lightfoot — a celebration of the songs of Gordon Lightfoot, the renowned Canadian songwriter and singer who passed away on May 1, 2023 at the age of 84.

With a music catalog encompassing 20 studio and three live albums, more than a dozen musicians will perform hits such as “Early Morning Rain,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway,” “Ribbon of Darkness,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and some of his lesser-known tracks on March 24.

Producer Charles Backfish said Lightfoot had been recording and touring since the 1960s up until a year or so before he passed away. “I’m really excited about this one, because, first of all, he is a songwriter of major stature, and secondly, he’s someone from up north that I think needs to get a little bit more acknowledgement in the United States,” he said.

Backfish added that while the singer/songwriter is known to some degree in this country, people may not be familiar with the range of Lightfoot’s albums. One song, “Black Day in July,” is about the 1967 Detroit Riot. The single was banned from some U.S. radio stations because many thought it was too political.

Ray Lambiase, who will be performing during the show, said when he was younger, his friends would listen to groups such as The Beatles. He, however, was listening to artists such as country blues singer Missippi John Hurt and folk-blues duo Sunday Terry and Brownie McGhee. He learned how to play guitar listening to folk music, and Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain” was one of the songs he would play early in his career.

“I’ve been playing ‘Early Morning Rain’ since I was 18, and that was over 50 years ago,” he said.

Lambiase will perform the song with other artists on March 24. He will also play “Did She Mention My Name” and “Sundown.” He added the shows allow singers and songwriters of every age an opportunity to collaborate.

“It’s just nice having everybody together, and you don’t often get that kind of a chance where everybody’s in the same room,” Lambiase said. “You get to catch up a little bit, and it generates such a warm feeling. It’s always a wonderful night and hopefully that somehow translates to what the audience is picking up.”

Among those multigenerational artists will be Andrew Fortier and his son and daughter, Cole and Andie. 

Andrew Fortier said it’s been interesting watching his children discover Lightfoot’s work. “They actually bring up stuff that I missed,” he said, adding both have eclectic tastes.

The singer, who has always been a fan of Lightfoot’s work, said digging into an artist’s music catalog for The Sunday Street Series is always a pleasant surprise.

“I’m 60 years old, so I grew up with Gordon Lightfoot in the 70s,” he said. “I’m a total fan, but you become more of a fan when you start backtracking and listening to cuts you’ve never heard before.”

Andrew’s son Cole said this will be the second Sunday Street show he has performed in. The musician said he’s enjoying studying Lightfoot’s music, describing the songs as fluid.

“What I’ve noticed about him particularly is his songs are very strophic, there’s not really any bridges, and they’re played through, which is kind of typical as a more traditional folk sound,” Cole said. “But, what’s interesting is just the long form vibes of these songs that go on and roam for a little while with these amazing lyrical narratives.”

Mary Lamont, who was raised in Canada, will also be among the performers at the Lightfoot event. The lead singer of the Mary Lamont Band said she was familiar with the singer/songwriter when she was younger but grew to appreciate his songwriting and singing more in later years.

The Sunday Street Series shows feature the artists performing two songs each. Lamont, whose husband Jim Marchese and bandmate Rich Lanahan will accompany her on acoustic guitars, said it can be challenging to narrow it down to two tracks when someone has such an extensive catalog. To choose, she listens to the artist’s albums until a song hits her. In this case, she chose two songs, “Cold on the Shoulder” and “Alberta Bound.” In the latter Lightfoot included references to Canada, including Toronto, which is about three hours from where Lamont grew up.

“That was the reason why I picked that song,” she said. “It had so many Canadian references.” She added she feels “every country has its own pride about people.” 

“I feel a certain pride and really a newfound respect for Gordon Lightfoot’s music, too,” Lamont said. “I have to thank Charlie for that.”

Backfish and the performers hope the audience will leave the show with a deeper appreciation of Lightfoot’s music.

“They’re going to hear a lot of songs that they’re not familiar with, and for me, the best thing would be for them to walk away realizing what a career and what a lasting body of work Gordon Lightfoot really left us,” Lambiase said.

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Long Island Celebrates Lightfoot will take place in the Carriage Museum’s Gillespie Room at the Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook on Sunday, March 24 at 5 p.m. and will feature local musicians Gene Casey, Caroline Doctorow, Mick Hargreaves, Ray Lambiase, Mary Lamont with Jim Marchese, Rich Lanahan, Russ Seeger, Hank Stone, Bob Westcott, and Andrew, Cole and Andie Fortier. 

Advance sale tickets are available at www.sundaystreet.org for $25 with tickets at the door, if available, for $30 (cash only).

Stephen Schwartz Photo from Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame

Broadway comes to Long Island as  award-winning Broadway and movie lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Prince of Egypt, and the new movie adaptation of Wicked among other titles) will be inducted into The Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF), 97 Main St., Stony Brook Village on Saturday, March 23 with doors opening at 7 p.m. 

The ceremony will be followed by an hour-and-a-half concert featuring performances from Schwartz’s musicals.

Paul Shaffer

“Long Island has proven to be especially fertile ground for producing major talents in the fields of music and entertainment,” said Schwartz. “The list of names is long and impressive. It’s a great honor for me to be recognized as being a part of that amazing tradition.”

Although well-known on Broadway and NYC, Schwartz has solid Long Island roots having grown up in Williston Park and graduating from Mineola High School.

“It is with great honor and pride that the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame inducts the legendary Stephen Schwartz into our esteemed institution,” said Ernie Canadeo, LIMEHOF Chairman. “With a career spanning over five decades, Schwartz has enriched the world of American musical theatre and the silver screen with timeless classics. We celebrate not only his remarkable talent but also his enduring legacy, which will continue to inspire generations to come.”

The music concert to follow the induction will be emceed by musician Paul Shaffer, with whom he worked early in his career. In 1972, Shaffer was hired as the musical director for the Toronto production of Godspell. He went on to play piano for another Schwartz-written score that played on Broadway, The Magic Show in 1974. Shaffer eventually went on to play in the house band of  “Saturday Night Live,” followed by serving as musical director for David Letterman’s “Late Night” and “Late Show” broadcasts.

After the ceremony, Schwartz and Shaffer will perform alongside musicians from the musical Godspell that include Rick Shutter (drummer), Doug Quinn (guitarist) and Steve Manes (bassist).

Broadway performers and singers who will be performing at this event including Teal Wicks (Wicked) Carrie St. Louise (Wicked), Dale Soules (The Magic Show), Alysia Velez (Into the Woods), Sam Simahk (Into the Woods) and DeMarius Copes (Some Like It Hot). The concert will feature music from Wicked, Godspell, Pippin, Working, The Magic Show, Pocahontas and more!

Tickets for the induction and concert event are $78.50 available for sale at www.limusichalloffame.org or may be purchased in person at LIMEHOF. Tickets include access to all of the museum, including the special Billy Joel exhibition, “My Life: A Piano Man’s Journey,” and Hall Of Fame. For more information, call 631-689-5888.

The concert featured a lecture about Charlie Parker and a tour of The Jazz Loft’s new exhibit. Photo from The Jazz Loft
Chris Donohue holds an example of the saxophone Charlie Parker played at the Feb. 22 event.  Photo from The Jazz Loft

It was all things Charlie “The Bird” Parker recently as The Jazz Loft presented “Charlie Parker 101”, a lecture, followed by a concert and tour of the Loft’s new Charlie Parker exhibit on Feb. 22.

The “all things Charlie Parker” celebration included a lecture by Dr. Darrell Smith, who spoke about the amazing achievements and highlights of the jazz saxophonist’s career, while surrounded by actual artifacts from his life.

The new exhibit at The Jazz Loft, which includes more than 50 memorabilia items from Parker, was recently procured by founder Tom Manuel, who traveled to London, England for an auction of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watt’s extensive jazz collection.

A concert of Parker’s music was presented by Tom Manual on trumpet; Darrell Smith on drums; Mala Waldron on piano; Dean Johnson on bass and Chris Donohue on alto saxophone.

This kickoff event will be followed by two performances of “Charlie Parker with Strings,” on April 4 & 6, 2024 and a special performance at The Staller Center on April 5. For more information about the exhibit visit: https://tbrnewsmedia.com/the-jazz-loft-acquires-charlie-bird-parker-memorabilia-collection/

Catch pianist and vocalist Mala Waldron at the Country House on March 20 from 6-8 p.m., as part of the Jazz Loft’s Swing Into Spring Jazz festival throughout the community. The Country House is located at 1175 North Country Road in Stony Brook.

The signs of spring in Stony Brook Village bring more than just warm breezes and the return of the ospreys. Jazz music will once again be filling the air as the Swing Into Swing Festival 2024 returns this March 19 to 23, bringing with it an assortment of opportunities to hear live Jazz music throughout the community at six locations.

The five-day music festival will culminate in concert performances by the Bad Little Big Band featuring trombonist Bruce Bonvissuto; Dan Pugach Big Band; the Andy McKee Quintet; a Community Jazz Night & Jam Session Techniques Workshop on Wednesday from 405:30 p.m. The festival includes an educational component and during the day The Jazz Loft will welcome Rocky Point Middle School and High School Jazz Ensembles for workshops and a tour, as well as welcoming patrons from the Cutchogue Library for a tour and performance.

Funding for the Festival comes in part from the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning and Suffolk County Legislator Steve Englebright.

Since its creation in 2017 the festival has attracted tourists and music lovers to Stony Brook’s historic business district.  Suffolk County is sponsoring the festival through a grant aimed at promoting tourism through the arts. Swing Into Spring will run from Tuesday, March 19 through Saturday, March 23, at the Jazz Loft and in local restaurants, including Sweet Mama’s, Shnitzels, The Country House, Madiran, Bliss and The Three Village Inn.

“I think it is wonderful that the Village of Stony Brook will be alive with the sounds of Jazz for a week,” said Manuel. “The Swing Into Spring Festival has grown year after year into this wonderful mini-festival that truly brings the town to life and attracts folks from all over Long Island. We’re honored to be presenting such a diverse and unique blend of artists this year and also to be extending the invitation to young and upcoming artists.”

In addition, The Jazz Loft’s new exhibit “Bird is Back!”, featuring the archives of Charlie Parker. The Jazz Loft’s Museum is open Thursdays-Sat, noon to 5 p.m.

For full schedule, see below:

TUESDAY, MARCH 19 

In the community

Bliss (6-8 p.m.):

Located at 766 Rt. 25A in Setauket-East Setauket

Steve Salerno, guitar, Tom Manuel, cornet

Sweet Mamas (6-8 p.m.):

Located at 121 Main Street i9n Stony Brook

Dave Lobenstein, bass, James. Micelli, tenor sax

Madarin Wine Bar, (6-8 p.m.):

Located at 209 Rt. 25A in Setauket-East Setauket

Dean Johnson, bass, Kevin Clark, guitar

At The Jazz Loft at 7 p.m.

Community Jazz Night will kick off with a performances by The Bay Big Band, Moment’s Notice (Carl Safina); Keenan Zach and the Matt Godfrey Organ Trio.

Tickets: $30 Adult, $25 Senior, $20 Student, $15 Child

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20 

At The Jazz Loft, 4-5:30 p.m.

Improvisation & Jam Session Techniques Workshop         

On the second day of the Swing Into Spring Festival, we will be hosting a workshop focused on improvisation followed by a jam session where Jazz musicians can collaborate on stage. Dean Johnson, bass, Rich Iacona, piano Tom Manuel, cornet, Ellis Holmes, drums. Tickets: $10, no discounts.

In the community:

Madiran (6-8 p.m.):

Located at 209 Rt. 25A in Setauket-East Setauket

Steve Salerno, guitar, Tom Manuel, cornet

Bliss (6-8 p.m.):

Located at 766 Rt. 25A in Setauket-East Setauket

John Marshall, tenor sax, Dave Lobenstein, bass

Three Village Inn (6-8 p.m.):

Located at 150 Main St, Stony Brook

The Jazz Loft Trio

Dean Johnson, bass, Rich Iacona, piano, Ellis Holmes, drums

Country House (6-8 p.m.)

Located at 1175 North Country Road in Stony Brook

Mala Waldron, piano

At The Jazz Loft at 7 p.m.

Jam Session, 

Led by Keenan Zach Tro

Tickets $10, $5 at 8 p.m.

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 21 

In the community:

Country House (6-8 p.m.):

Located at 1175 North Country Road in Stony Brook

Lee Tamboulian, Piano, Tom Manuel, cornet

At The Jazz Loft, 7 p.m.

The Bad Little Big Band, with special guest Bruce Bonvissuto, with vocals by Madeline Kole and directed by composer, arranger Rich Iacona.

Tickets: $30 Adult, $25 Senior, $20 Student, $15 Child, kids under 5 free

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 22 

At the Jazz Loft at 7 p.m.

Dan Pugach Big Band-big band directed by drummer Dan Pugach.

Tickets: $30 Adult, $25 Senior, $20 Student, $15 Child, kids under 5 free

SATURDAY, MARCH 23

In the community:

Schnitzels (5-7 p.m.)

77 Main Street in Stony Brook

Wallace Selzer, bass, Vinny Raniolo, guitar

At The Jazz Loft at 7 p.m.

Andy McKee Quintet

Tickets: $30 Adult, $25 Senior, $20 Student, $15 Child, kids under 5 free

All tickets can be purchased by visiting: https://www.thejazzloft.org/tickets

For more information call 631-751-1895.

The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook is located just 90 minutes from New York City and is the only music venue on Long Island that features exclusively Jazz music. For more information about The Jazz Loft, visit website.

By Melissa Arnold

The Stony Brook University Orchestra invites kids and adults alike on a musical journey with their annual Family Orchestra Concert on the Main Stage of the Staller Center for the Arts ton Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. The free hour-long performance allows even the youngest children to experience classical music and see where their imaginations lead. 

This year’s theme, “Musical Splendor in Nature,” showcases the wide variety of orchestral sounds — strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion — in ways that are inspired by natural beauty.

Orchestra conductor Susan Deaver comes up with a new theme each year, then scours her music library to see which songs work best together.

“There are so many pieces influenced by nature, and the decision making process was hard for this one — what to choose?” said Deaver, who’s been with the university since 2000. She also has to consider the length of each piece, the variety of instruments required, and how long ago it was last performed.

Among the more well-known selections is “Jupiter” from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst, which might make the listener feel as though they’re soaring through space and contemplating the majesty of the universe. In “Carnival of the Animals” by Camille Saint-Saëns, kids will enjoy listening for the slow can-can that represents a tortoise and the shrill “hee haw” of donkeys played by violins. Professor of Music Emeritus Peter Winkler will serve as narrator. 

Other songs will bring concertgoers to a field of cornflowers and a forest in Finland covered with snow. 

Along the way, Deaver will take time to talk to the audience informally about each song, introducing the different instruments in the orchestra and explaining how they’re played. As always, there will be a relaxed atmosphere, plenty of surprises and even an opportunity for the audience to participate.

The concert’s featured violin soloist is 16-year-old Joanna Huang, a junior at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket and this year’s Young Orchestral Artist. A few exceptional high school students are invited to perform with the orchestra each year.

Huang and her siblings are the first ones in their family to play an instrument.

“When I was very young, I would sit in on both my brothers’ violin and piano lessons. Watching and hearing them made me say, ‘I want to play, too!’ It was a huge motivator for me,” she said.

Huang’s relationship with the university began as a fifth grader, when she took part in the Young Artists Program and a music summer camp. After that, the desire to perform with the orchestra only grew.

“When she was in eighth grade, Joanna reached out to me and asked about joining the orchestra, and I had to turn her down because she was too young yet, but she was persistent,” Deaver recalls. “She loves piano but is also passionate about the violin, and is a really fantastic performer. We’re excited to have her.”

Huang will play the final movement of Dvorak’s Violin Concerto in A, Op. 53. She has already performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, held the coveted position of concertmaster with numerous ensembles, and hopes to study violin performance once she’s finished high school.

“I love the violin and I love collaborating with others in music. I have always had an interest in playing violin with an orchestra or a chamber group,” she said. “Hearing great pieces of music and then having an opportunity to play those masterpieces, as a soloist or in a group, is the best thing that could ever happen to me.” 

The orchestra is comprised of 70 Stony Brook University students with varied music backgrounds and academic majors. Many are heading toward careers in science, technology, engineering or medicine.

“I think for a lot of the students, music has been a part of their lives for so long that they wanted to stay with it, no matter where their careers take them,” Deaver said. “It’s a nice break for them to get away from the pressures of academics for three hours a week [to rehearse]. Some do study music, but others may go on to join community orchestras or just enjoy the arts and share that with their families.”

The Stony Brook University Family Orchestra Concert will be held on the Main Stage at the Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook on Tuesday, Feb. 27 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-632-2787.  

Two dozen Elwood student-musicians have been selected for the Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association All-County Festival, and will begin rehearsing with their respective SCMEA ensembles in early March.

Elwood-John H. Glenn High School freshmen Margarita Agrawal and Angelica Viviani and sophomores Peter Bell, Aaleshan Jamal Raim, Kim, Olivia LoBue and Emma Rothleder will perform at the SCMEA West Division III concert on March 9 at Huntington High School.

Elwood Middle School seventh and eighth graders Juan Alvarado Escalante, Olivia Charalambous, Gregory Gross, John Haintz, Jewel Li, Joseph Meyers, Ryan Myers, Logan Ouziel and Camille Zreik will perform at the SCMEA West Division II concert on March 10 at Huntington High School.

James H. Boyd Intermediate School fifth graders Ella Zwang Daniel D’Angeli, Nicholas Mandelbaum and Raho Kim and Elwood Middle School sixth graders Victoria Agrawal, Sophie Bagshaw, Nora Brzezinski, and Lukas Davis will perform at the SCMEA West Division I concert on March 10 at Huntington High School. 

Hiroya Tsukamoto in Concert

The Village of Port Jefferson Dept. of Recreation and the Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council continue their Winter Tide concert series at the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson with a special performance by guitar wizard Hiroya Tsukamoto in the Sail Loft Room (3rd floor) on Friday, February 16 from 7 to 8 p.m. Eclectic, immersive and mesmerizing, the musician takes the audience on an innovative, impressionistic journey filled with earthy, organic soundscapes that impart a mood of peace and tranquility.

Hiroya Tsukamoto is a one-of-a-kind composer, guitarist and singer-songwriter from Kyoto, Japan. He began playing the five-string banjo when he was thirteen, and took up the guitar shortly after.

In 2000, he received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston and eventually formed his own group, Interoceanico, made up of musicians from different continents including Latin Grammy Colombian singer Marta Gomez. The group released three acclaimed records: The Other Side of the World, Confluencia and Where the River Shines.

Hiroya has released three solo albums (Solo, Heartland and Places). He has been leading concerts internationally including several appearances at Blue Note(NYC), United Nations and Japanese National Television(NHK). 

In 2018, he won 2nd place in the International Finger Style Guitar Championship.

$5 donation at the door appreciated. No reservations required. For further information, call 631-802-2160.

 

Tom Manuel. Photo from The Jazz Loft

Looking for a way to romance your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day? The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Avenue in Stony Brook, will supply the live jazz music, champagne and chocolate. You supply the romance.

The Jazz Loft presents “Here’s to the Ladies,” on Friday, February 16 at 7 p.m., featuring The Jazz Loft All Stars”, with Tom Manuel on cornet/vocals; Dean Johnson on bass; Steve Salerno on guitar; Ray Anderson on trombone and Darrell Smith on drums.

The performance repertoire is songs written for women, about women, to women, by women– It’s all about the ladies when Valentine’s Day comes to the Jazz Loft. All tickets are $40. The event includes a glass of champagne and deluxe chocolate.

“Our Valentine’s Day performances at the Jazz Loft are all about the LADIES– period!” said Jazz Loft founder Tom Manuel. “So, gentlemen, if you’re looking for someplace that will celebrate them properly, the Loft is the place to be!”

The Jazz Loft is located just 90 minutes from New York City and is the only music venue on Long Island that features exclusively Jazz music. For tickets visit: https://www.thejazzloft.org/calendar

Nicole Zuraitis is one of four performers coming to the Jazz Loft next month in the intimate “Acoustic in the Main Room” series. Photo from The Jazz Loft

Don’t like big crowds? Then the Jazz Loft’s Acoustic in the Main Room series is your ticket to paradise. This jazz music series showcases incredible talent in the Jazz Loft’s main performance room which will be set up to resemble an intimate living room, with spaced out seating. The concerts are conversational, engaging, and intimate and a very special window into the heart and mind of the artists.

Each concert will have a different theme and be paired with wines to complement the music!

“Our Acoustic in the Living Room series is a unique opportunity to hear some of the most talented singers and musicians that perform regularly at the Loft in a relaxed setting, reminiscent of the New York City Loft scene of the 1950’s which inspired the Jazz Loft’s name,” said Jazz Loft founder Tom Manuel. “If you don’t know any Jazz performers personally to invite into your own living room, then this is the next best thing.”

The Acoustic in the Main Room series calendar:

Thursday, February 9- featuring Carlos Jimenez on flute; Miki Hayama on piano. 

Friday, February 10- featuring Susanna Phillips (soprano with the Metropolitan Opera) and Steve Salerno on guitar. 

Friday, February 23- featuring Rubens De La Corte on acoustic guitar; Steve Salerno on guitar. 

Saturday, February 24- Grammy-nominated singer Nicole Zuraitis on piano and vocals, with Tom Manuel on cornet

All performances are hosted by Tom Manuel and Laura Landor

Tickets will be limited to just 85 people and start at 7 p.m., and feature two sets with a brief intermission.

Tickets for all performances are $40 and start at 7 p.m. and can be purchased at https://www.thejazzloft.org.

The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Avenue in Stony Brook, is located just 90 minutes from New York City and is the only music venue on Long Island that features exclusively jazz music. For more information, call 631-751-1895.

 

A personalized instrument case from Charlie 'Bird' Parker is one of more than 50 items that will be on exhibit at The Jazz Loft in February. Photo from The Jazz Loft

The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Avenue in Stony Brook, has recently acquired a collection of more than 50 memorabilia items from jazz saxophonist legend Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, that includes master acetates from some of his most important recording sessions; a personalized instrument case; his union card; numerous notes, letters and correspondence; and his Birdland contracts. 

An exhibit highlighting Parker and the newly acquired memorabilia will open in February, along with numerous events and concerts centered on Parker’s music. The concert series will culminate in several performances of “Charlie Parker with Strings,” one of his most well-known recordings. 

A Carnegie Hall poster from 1953 was acquired from the Christie’s of London auction. Photo from The Jazz Loft

Some of the correspondence documents his challenge with the union as he often had his union card revoked for drug offenses. The letters, from him, his agents, promoters, and friends, show Parker’s struggle to stay clean and work. Parker struggled with a heroin addiction and died at the age of 34.

The items were purchased at a Christie’s of London auction which showcased a vast collection of music memorabilia belonging to the late Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts. Watts, who had been a beloved member of the Stones since 1963, passed away in August 2021. 

Watts was a huge jazz fan, with a special love of Charlie Parker. 

“I heard Charlie Parker and that was it. It was all over,” Watts had said.

According to David Green, a childhood friend of Watts, his “collection of jazz memorabilia, which he started in his teens, and built up during his years with the Stones is truly astonishing; it reflects his enduring love of the music and the musicians who made it.”

Tom Manuel, founder and president of The Jazz Loft, said he was determined to bring the collection to The Jazz Loft because Parker had deep roots in New York. Birdland, the famous jazz club located on 52nd Street in New York City, was named for Parker, who had a residency there for four years.

“Charlie Parker holds a place on that shelf that few get to join; Jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Ella are all up there. Parker is there because he, along with his bebop colleagues, gave us an entirely new way of speaking the language of Jazz,” Manuel said. 

“Parker’s short-lived life meant that he left us little in terms of personal items related to his career. The sale of the Charlie Watts collection which took him decades to assemble literally was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I just knew that The Jazz Loft needed to mobilize all our resources and support to bring Bird home. I’m still in awe that we are now the only Jazz museum in the world with such an extensive collection of items relating to the life and career of one of the most important figures in Jazz — Charlie Parker. It’s beyond description,” added Manuel.

 Through a fundraising campaign called Operation Bring Bird Home, Manuel raised over $150,000 from over 30 donors to purchase the Parker collection. Lead donors were Dawn and Dan Oliveri and Cynthia and David Lippe, with additional support from the Jazz Loft’s Board of Directors.

 “The acquisition of this Charlie Parker collection will be a game changer for The Jazz Loft,” said Cynthia Lippe. “We have amazing collections of artists who are significant to the history of jazz and well-known among jazz aficionados, but we haven’t had such a household name in jazz until now. Everyone knows ‘Bird,’ and we now have one of the largest collections of Charlie Parker memorabilia anywhere!”

Charlie Parker’s Union Card. Photo courtesy of The Jazz Loft

Glenn Mitchell, senior specialist at antiquarian bookseller Peter Harrington of London, said, “I count myself as extraordinarily fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Charlie Watts in building his jazz collection. He was a passionate and informed collector in a range of areas, but deep down it was jazz that was closest to his heart, and in his heart, he held Bird dearest of all.”

“Charlie didn’t buy a single thing that didn’t mean something to him, and his jazz collection was carefully composed of material that takes you there, puts you in the room, brings alive not just the sounds but the whole scintillating variegated culture of jazz. He’d often say to me, ‘when I’m gone, who’s going to care about all this stuff?’, well evidently quite few people! It was a great pleasure to meet Dr. Thomas Manuel ‘backstage’ at the Christie’s sale and to be able to share the stories behind some of Charlie’s trophy pieces; Charlie would have been delighted to see that many of these have now found a home in a place where jazz truly still lives, and the story is being told for generations to come.”

The Charlie Parker collection will be exhibited at The Jazz Loft in February.  The kickoff will include a reception for donors on Feb. 8 at 6:30p.m. and two performances of “Charlie Parker with Strings” featuring Chris Donohue and Dayna Sean Stephens on April 4 and 6 at 7 p.m. and a third performance featuring Chris Donohue on alto saxophonist at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts on April 5 at 7 p.m. In addition, the exhibit will include a screening of Clint Eastwood’s award-winning film Bird on Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.thejazzloft.org or call 631-751-1895.