Outside of New Orleans, no community has arguably nurtured jazz more than Harlem. Duke Ellington, Benny Carter, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Count Basie, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday – whose unique sounds all once reverberated throughout these fabled streets. The Jazz Museum in Harlem has dedicated itself to keeping this musical legacy alive by serving up several public programs around the city throughout the year that has attracted thousands of fans and supporters, including “Harlem Speaks,” a biweekly lecture series to honor persons keeping the flame of jazz alive in Harlem; “Harlem in the Himalayas,” a Friday night concert series featuring musicians which integrate reflections of Himalayan art into their works; and “Jazz in the Parks,” an annual free concert series held at various venues around the city. Check out the museum’s official website for details regarding these and other programs and events, including current schedules.
Having lacked a permanent home since its inception in 2001, it was recently announced that the Jazz Museum in Harlem will occupy performance and exhibition space in the Victoria Theater on 125th Street, currently under renovation. Once Harlem’s largest and most elegant theater, the Victoria sits a couple doors east of its more well-known sister, the Apollo Theater. Upon completion, the new facility will not only showcase art and artifacts marking the history of jazz, but will house a high-tech media center in which to present the recordings and films documenting the development of jazz. Live performances will be supplemented by lectures, community outreach, and public programs, as well as classes in jazz history, appreciation and theory.