Mitch Traphagen’s photos from Artists Without Walls’ Showcase at The Cell Theatre, April 26, 2016.
Mitch Traphagen’s photos from Artists Without Walls’ Showcase at The Cell Theatre, April 26, 2016.
“Artists Without Walls has has gotten off to a fantastic start this year. I’m so very thankful for the artistic, cultural and social benefits I have reaped from this organization. Thanks, Charles and Niamh. Thanks everyone for your support.” Mark Donnelly
We’ve got a great evening of diverse entertainment planned for Artists Without Walls’ April Showcase at The Cell Theatre, Tuesday, April 26. One of the group’s newest members, songwriter Rick Cashman, will be making his first AWoW appearance. Joining Rick will be jazz pianist John Ambrosini and saxophonist Premik Russell Tubbs, who has performed with Lady Gaga, Sting, Whitney Houston, Carlos Santana, Jackson Browne and James Taylor. Rick is also the creator, writer and producer of a weekly comedy podcast called “The Hickory Bench Playhouse”
Actress Gina Costigan will be performing a scene from Honor Molloy’s short play, “And in My Heart. ” The play is a young woman’s account of love and revolution during the 1916 Easter Rising, which is drawn from Honor’s Great Aunt Florence Kane’s eye witness account of the week when Ireland changed, changed utterly.
Mala Waldron, a New York City native, balances local performances with regular tours in Europe and Asia. Currently, the songstress is excited about her upcoming solo release, “Deep Resonance.” The project is an intimate, unplugged, personal glimpse into the heart of the artist, featuring her lush vocals and piano accompaniment. Mala’s recordings include her CD debut, “Lullaby,” a tribute to her godmother, Billie Holiday and a duo project with her father, pianist/composer Mal Waldron, “He’s My Father” and “Always There,” which, in addition to being her first U.S. release, was also licensed by Columbia Records (Japan) and voted one of the Top 20 Jazz CDs of 2006 by JazzUSA.
Jenai Huff, NYC based singer/songwriter composes songs that address life with its nuances, contradictions, and challenges. Working with acclaimed cinematographer and cameraman, Arthur Jafa (Selma, Crooklyn, Seven Songs for Malcolm, Beyonce, Lauren Hill), has put two of her songs to film, which she will be showing at Tuesday’s Showcase. One of the songs, “Just Like Me,” subtly addresses racism and how we really are all mostly a like.
Michelle Macau will be presenting a reading of selected poems from “The Surrender Tree” by Margarita Engle about Cuba’s struggle for freedom, experimenting with percussive sounds to enhance the story. Joining Michelle will be Al Foote III, Celeste Muniz, Paul Roberson and Kabuki Kozuru.
Storyteller Jim Hawkins will pay tribute to the men and women of 1916 Ireland, with passages from Sean O’Casey’s writings and the song, “The Foggy Dew.” Jim has spent decades telling stories, with a sly, folksy understated humor, like the seanchaís of old, whom Hawkins emulates. Jim tells the stories of nearly vanished Irish folkways to audiences far and wide, in public libraries, pubs, churches, universities, in Ireland and here in the United States. “I wish to be a vehicle that carries the history, culture and traditions of the Irish people, and to share the stories, songs and poetry of this great culture with the world. It will be my contribution to keeping this wonderful art-form alive and well.”
Artists Without Walls’ Artistic Directors Niamh Hyland and Charles R. Hale will be hosting and emceeing the event. The Cell Theatre is located at 338 W23rd. St., NYC. The doors and bar open at 6:45. The Showcase begins at 7:30. For more information about the event click here.
“Broadway is alive and kicking this season. But the best theatrical bargain in the city was last Friday’s show at the Cell, ‘Jazz and the City: The New York Connection.’ This review of America’s great songwriters and their relationship with New York was poignant, engrossing and magical. Charles Hale’s commentary was as relaxed as it was enlightening and insightful. A brilliant evening! Here’s hoping for an encore.” Peter Quinn, novelist
From the best of times to the worst of times, songwriters have captured every corner of New York City through music. For the past 375 years, musicians have paid homage to the city they call home with songs such as ‘New York State of Mind,’ ‘New York, New York,’ ‘Spanish Harlem’ and ‘I’ll Take Manhattan,’ but on Friday night at The Cell Theatre in Manhattan, Charles R. Hale’s Jazz and the City: The New York Connection explored some of the great tunes in the American Songbook through a different perspective. Weaving narrative and sidebars through the music of the Gershwins, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Billy Strayhdorn and others, Hale connected New York City and the songs through their composers and artists who lived here, through the venues in which the songs were popularized and through his own recollection of New York and song.
Joining Hale were a brilliant collection of musicians, David Raleigh on piano and vocals, Tony Carfara, saxophone, Danny Weller, bass guitar and Daniel Glass, drums. From Raleigh’s tender and moving performance of Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” to Carfara’s soaring sax on “Stormy Weather,” to Weller’s killer bass solo in Strayhorn’s “A Train,” all backed by the eminently responsive and tasteful rhythms of drummer Glass, each song was a beautifully, turned out gem.
Hale pointed out that hundreds of musical compositions have been written about New York, but in addition, there are many, while not written about the city, that both evoke and paint a musical portrait of New York, such as Gershwins’ “Rhapsody in Blue.” He tied the songs to the city, introducing tidbits of information from Fred Astaire singing to Ginger Rogers on a foggy ferry deck during a trip from New Jersey to Manhattan, to a scene in which fictional New York City bus driver Ralph Cramden and his wife make up to the tunes of “Our Love is Here to Stay,” to his recollection of sitting in a bar as a young man, closing time, watching an older man, lost in his thoughts, hearing his life reflected in a Sinatra saloon song.
Plans are in the works to do the show again. As actor Jack O’Connell said, “I hope so. It was a great evening. The presentation was original and had NYC savvy. Pianist and vocalist David Raleigh and his musicians were well prepared. Hale was great using that staircase, very theatrical…and all grand. A most convivial after show party as well…I could have hung out all night.” Jack O’Connell, actor.
All photos by Vera Hoar
This past Thursday, Lehman College: The City and Humanities Program and the CUNY Institute for Irish-American Studies sponsored a performance of Charles R. Hale’s “Musical History of the Lower East Side,” celebrating the music of a neighborhood from which many of our nation’s ethnic groups can trace their origins.
In the 1840s, almost half of America’s immigrants were from Ireland. Often leaving behind famine and poverty, the Irish would often sing ballads steeped in nostalgia and self-pity, and despite the troubles they’d left, singing the praises of their native soil. The Irish also brought Celtic music. Melodies common to fiddlers throughout Scotland and Ireland were transferred nearly intact to the American fiddle tradition. Deni Bonet performed one such tune that has remained a bluegrass fiddler favorite, “Red Haired Boy.”
Stephen Foster, who’s often referred to as “the father of American music,” moved to the Bowery in 1860. Foster was primarily known for his parlor music and minstrel music. Niamh Hyland, with accompaniment from Deni and Noah Hoffeld, sang two popular Foster tunes, “Hard Times Come Again No More,” 1854, and “Slumber My Darling,” 1862.
A steady stream of Italian immigrants began arriving in America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Italians from Naples and Southern Italy brought with them a traditional form of singing called Neapolitan music. In New York City, Italian tenors Enrico Caruso and Beniamino Gigli popularized such songs as “O Sole Mio,” “Funiculi Funicular” and “Non ti Scordar di me,” which was performed by soprano Ashley Bell. Italian immigrants also helped popularize the Metropolitan Opera, which debuted a number of Italian operas, including Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi in 1918. Ashley performed the opera’s most popular aria “O Mio Bambino Caro.”
The Lower East Side is especially remembered as a place of Jewish beginnings in America. Between 1880 and the start of World War I in 1914, about 2 million Yiddish speaking Jews left Eastern Europe and Russia where pogroms and persecution made life unbearable. While Jewish composers, many of whom lived on the Lower East Side, were influential in creating the American Songbook, they also brought a great deal of European music with them as well. Basya Schechter and Noah Hoffeld captured the spirit of the past with two Yiddish songs, “Oyfn Pripetchik” and “Shnirele Perele”
George and Ira Gershwin were composers who were raised on the Lower East Side. George’s classical music such as Rhapsody in Blue, his opera Porgy and Bess and his many show tunes remain popular today, but he also teamed up with brother Ira to write “I Got Rhythm,” “The Man I Love” and “Someone to Watch Over Me,” which was performed by jazz pianist and vocalist Mala Waldron with accompaniment from fiddler Deni.
In the mid 1950s many artists and musicians were drawn to the neighborhood around the Bowery by cheaper rents. The Five Spot Café, a jazz club located between 4th and 5th Streets, staged jam sessions with some of the giants of jazz: Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, and Lower East Side resident, Charlie Parker. Waldron, accompanied once again by Deni, performed a Parker favorite “Embraceable You.”
In the 1940s and 50s Latin Jazz began to take hold in New York City. At the same time, there was the first great migration of Puerto Ricans entering the country. Shortly, Dominicans and other Spanish groups followed. Latin jazz musicians, guitarist Yuri Juarez and percussionist Jhair Sala, performed a tune that was popular in the Latin community, now known by its Spanglish name, Loisaida, in the 1940s and 50s, “Night in Tunisia,” written by jazz great Dizzie Gillespie.
The music of the Lower East Side has continued to evolve from garage band to punk to alternative rock and yet, each year, the Loisaida Festival continues to evoke the spirit of its immigrant past, as did Yuri and Jhair with the last song on the program, “La Bikina.”
A big thank you to all the artists who participated in the “Musical History of the Lower East” and to Lehman College: The City and Humanities Program and the CUNY Institute for Irish-American Studies for sponsoring the event.
Photos by Mitch Traphagen.
Mitch Traphagen’s photos from Charles R. Hale’s “Musical History of the Lower East Side,” at Lehman College. The event was sponsored by “Lehman College: The City and Humanities Program and the CUNY Institute for Irish-American Studies.
Yiddish music rocks!
Well, if you’d been at Rockwood Music Hall last year for Charles R. Hale’s “The Musical History of the Lower East Side,” you would have seen and heard Noah Hoffeld and Basya Schechter perform Shnirele Perele and you would agree: Yiddish music rocks. If you can get up to the Bronx tomorrow afternoon, Thursday, April 7th, 12:30 pm, you’ll see what we mean.
Join us as Noah and Basya, and a brilliant cast of musicians, perform some of the tunes that comprise the “Musical History of the Lower East Side.” The event will take place at Lehman College’s Studio Theatre, 250 Bedford Park Blvd W, Bronx, NY. This is a free event which is being sponsored by Lehman College: The City and Humanities Program and the CUNY Institute of Irish Studies. Click here for directions.
Artists Without Walls’ member, soprano Ashley Bell, will be performing a number of Italian songs as part of Charles R. Hale’s “Musical History of the Lower East Side,” at Lehman College, Thursday, April 7, 12:30pm.
Many of our nation’s ethnic communities trace their roots to the Lower East Side, historically, a working class neighborhood, ethnically diverse and poor. A steady stream of Italian immigrants began arriving in America in the late 19th and early 20th century, including, Italians from Naples and Southern Italy who brought with them a traditional form of singing known as Neapolitan music. In New York City, Italian tenors such as Enrico Caruso and Beniamino Gigli popularized such songs as O Sole Mio, Funiculi Funicula, and Non ti Scordar di me. The steady stream of Italian immigrants also helped popularize the Metropolitan Opera, which debuted a number of Italian operas, including Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi in 1918. The most popular aria from that opera remains “O Mil Bambino Caro.”
Ashley Bell has been performing from an early age, starting at age 9 as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus and making her Off-Broadway debut at sixteen in the world premiere of the musical The Golden Touch. Ashley has since performed as a soloist in the United States, Italy, Spain, France and Russia. Recent performances have included Fiordiligi in Cosi Fan Tutte and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni in the Narni Festival in Italy with the Orchestra Filarmonica di Roma, Norina in Don Pasquale in Logroño, Spain, Violetta in La Traviata at the Bay Street Theatre, Isabella Colbran in the premiere of Discovering Mrs. Rossini at the new Sheen Center in NYC, and Musetta at the National Opera Center.
The performance will be in the Studio Theatre, Lehman College, 250 Bedford Park Blvd W, Bronx, NY, Thursday, April 7, 12:30pm. This is a free event which is being sponsored by Lehman College: The City and Humanities Program and the CUNY Institute of Irish Studies. Click here for directions.
This Thursday, April 7, 12:30pm, Lehman College: The City and Humanities Program, The CUNY Institute of Irish Studies and Artists Without Walls presents Charles R. Hale’s “The Musical History of the Lower East Side. The event will take place in the Studio Theatre, 250 Bedford Park Blvd W., Bronx, NY. Click here for directions.
Here’s what actress/director Aedin Moloney said about the show: “Blown away tonight by the most talented collection of musicians! Artists Without Walls hosted a terrific musical evening at Rockwood Music Hall. What a line up of super talented vocalists. One after another boom, boom, boom! All equally stunning performances….A slice of New York History. Take it on the road guys! Hopefully this will be done again…. not to be missed.”
Performers include (clockwise from top left) Niamh Hyland, Noah Hoffeld, Mala Waldron, Yuri Juarez, Ashley Bell, Basya Schechter, Deni Bonet and (center) Charles R. Hale, who wrote and narrates the show.
Mitch Traphagen’s photos from AWoW’s Showcase at Sid Gold’s, March 29, 2016.
Wednesday, March 23rd, 7:30pm in NYC, Artist Without Walls’ member Deni Bonet’s Album Completion Concert at Bowery Electric, 327, Bowery, NYC. Come out and celebrate Deni’s new album – “BRIGHT SHINY OBJECTS.”