You are here

When
October 15, 2015 to December 31, 2015
Where

Gin Fizz
308 Malcolm X Boulevard,
New York
NY
10027

The Harlemist

The Harlem Sessions

Every Thursday, 10pm-3am from October 15 2015 through December 31 2015!

Pianist-Composer Marc Cary's Weekly "Harlem Sessions" Adding Fresh Lifeblood to Harlem's Vibrant Cultural Scene

"International talent joins home-town favorites to perform jazz and soul as patrons, drink mezcal and smoke hookah pipes "(THE NEW YORKER)

"One of the most exciting and innovative prospects on the global jazz and urban scene today."- BLUESANDSOUL

(New York, NY) -- Marc Cary's "Harlem Sessions," which takes place every Thursday night at the New York City speakeasy Gin Fizz (Lenox Ave. at 125th St.), continues to gain ground in the community that the keyboardist-composer-bandleader calls home, and where he's emerging as a leader committed to the values of the Harlem Renaissance pioneers such as Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington, in the spirit of providing fresh lifeblood to Harlem's unique and vibrant cultural scene.

Cary began hosting the late night jam session in May, opening it to musicians, poets, rappers, dancers and comedians, and announcing the song menu in advance via social media, to develop an organic and crucial cutting ground for artists. It's a celebration of local artists, groups and composers who truly brought a melting pot of influences together; take a song like "Harlem River Drive" (by pianist Eddie Palmieri's super group), cultivate it, and that typifies what this session is about and how deeply its local roots grow.

Beyond honoring Harlem's pioneers, Cary's leadership engenders the exploration of ways that familiar repertoire has evolved stylistically and globally: highlighting some of the most inspirational works of titanic jazz composers and performers that have been foundational building blocks in soul, R&B and rock; celebrating essential black and American songwriters of our time whose music crossed multiple genres; illuminating the true connectors between jazz, funk and soul; and celebrating great interpreters of songs that have been foundational in the building blocks of hip hop.

Cary's longtime rhythm section features Rashaan Carter on bass and Sameer Guptaon drums/tabla. Guest artists have been as wide-ranging as poet/performance artist (and five-time winner of "It's Showtime at the Apollo") Jessica Care Moore, along with new MC phenom Amani Fela; MacArthur Fellow Vijay Iyer; The United Nations Youth Philharmonic Orchestra; Guadeloupean saxophone titan Jacques Schwarz-Bart; tap percussionist extraordinaire Omar Edwards, Malian vocalist Awa Sangho; 1st Annual Duke Ellington Vocal Competition winner Charles Turner, and Mike Casey (both alumni of Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead); Lauryn Hill's current horn section (Igmar Thomas, Sharif Clayton, James Casey); and Harlem's own self-described 'Black Americana' singer Queen Esther.

In May, Cary performed at Harlem's Apollo Theater and DC's Kennedy Center, co-headlining a show titled "Harlem Nights/U Street Lights" with American pianist-composer Jason Moran and earning rave reviews like this from CapitolBop: "Jason Moran and Marc Cary's 'Harlem Nights/U Street Lights'...was like a dream. Over 20 musicians fit together for a seamless and immersive production that celebrated D.C. and New York's twinned roles in the development of modern Black music."

Cary will take The Harlem Sessions on the road to Exit Zero Jazz Festival in Cape May, NJ, on November 7, 2015, with plans to tour the concept internationally into 2016.

In a jazz world brimming with brilliant and adventurous pianists, Marc Cary stands apart by way of pedigree and design. None of his prestigious peer group ever set the groove behind the drums in Washington, DC go-go bands nor are any others graduates of both Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln's daunting bandstand academies. Cary hails from a musically literate family--his mother is a cellist; his great grandmother was an ivory-tickler in silent movie houses back in that day who also rocked barrelhouse and stride duets with Eubie Blake. Ellington trumpeter Cootie Williams was a cousin of Cary's grandfather.

While New York City is Cary's birthplace he was raised between Providence RI and the nation's capital. The player-composer is a graduate of DC's world-renowned Duke Ellington School For The Arts, also the professional spawning ground for Dave Chappelle, Wallace Roney, Denyce Graves and Meshell Ndegeocello whom Cary jammed with in the school's orchestra.

Cary's Ellington education prepared him to take on the daunting Big Apple at the ripe age of 21. Besides Carter and Lincoln, the next decade of his life found him sharing stages and cultivating craft with Dizzy Gillespie, Arthur Taylor, Carlos Garnett, Jackie McLean, Wynton Marsalis and one more goddess-figure among jazz vocalists, Carmen McRae. His comfort with women bandleaders also made him a favorite accompanist among other modern chanteuses, notably Ndegeocello, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and Ani Di Franco.

Cary has released three albums within the past two years on the Harlem-based Motémalabel: Rhodes Ahead Vol. 2 (Mar '15), Four Directions (Oct '13), and For the Love of Abbey (Jun '13). The New York Times called Rhodes Ahead Vol. 2 a "self-assured trek to the heart of jazz-funk futurism.”