Monday, June 23, 2014

Legendary Jazz Musicians Share the Stage for Jazz Forum at 35!

Jazz may have birthed out of slavery but over the years it has taken on many forms. While some say jazz is difficult to define, most agree its key component is improvisation. A music that took shape from the repetitive call and response hollers of African American slaves working on plantations to embody their blues, jazz has grown into a force to be reckoned with.  Eventually, Dixieland jazz was conceived in New Orleans, and then the swing era brought in the big bands, although later bebop shifted the music back to small groups.  Cords and rhythms changed offering freedom of composition as various harmonies and rhythms developed that defined the altering styles that denote jazz as a truly American creative art form defying boundaries.

On Saturday, June 28th at 8:00 pm nearly 30 jazz greats will come together to offer one of the greatest tributes to jazz experienced on a single stage.  Trumpeter, Executive Director and Jazz Forum Founder, Mark Morganelli, is bringing together jazz alumni to honor the Jazz Forum he established on June 29, 1979 in the East Village in Manhattan. This collection of renowned jazz musicians consisting of artists the likes of Lee Konitz, Larry Willis, Michele Rosewoman, John Burr, Marion Cowings, Charli Persip, T.S. Monk, Candido, David Amram, Bobby Sanabria, Wallace Roney, Steve Turre, Ronnie Cuber, Valery Ponomarev and Bob Mover, to name a few, will celebrate the 35th anniversary of Jazz Forum via Jazz Forum at 35! as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival held at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, located at 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square in Manhattan.

“When I established the Jazz Forum back in 1979, which is almost 35 years to the date of the June 28th show, it was to create opportunities for musicians who at the time weren’t playing many gigs in more established clubs like the Village Vanguard, Fat Tuesday’s or Sweet Basil which were booking the likes of Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and major artists like that.  When I first opened, I started off with trumpeter Dizzy Reece the first weekend and booked Clifford Jordan the second week.  Before long I had jazz going 7 nights a week, a Sunday Singer’s Brunch and even had Barry Harris conducting a jazz workshop at the loft that contained the Jazz Forum for 3 years before we moved to a bigger loft on Bleecker Street.,” recalled Mark who later established Jazz Forum Arts.

The monies from the show will help benefit Morganelli 33 free concerts in 6 venues on Wednesday evenings in Dobbs Ferry and a show in Tarrytown on a 67 acre site for 8 Thursday evenings in July and August.  He does a musical series at Pierson Park on Fridays in August, as well as shows in White Plains, Greenwich, CT and at John Jay College in NYC.  Interested parties can find out more about these show by visiting

"I am delighted to participate in the Jazz Forum at 35! event," said T.S. Monk.  "You know financially a career in show business does not leave individuals, especially jazz professionals much to lean on because they are farther down on the financial ladder.  There is a misconception that fame comes with great wealth.  This is show business.  People see the show but they do not see the business.  The business is tough and will continue to be tough.  On the positive side, Mark through the Jazz Forum, has been a launch pad for so many great artists with many wonderful evenings at the loft.  There were so many great events at the Jazz Forum it is difficult to isolate on particular evening.  There is a great deal of room for so many wonderful memories," stated the famed drummer/vocalist/composer.

A child of the 1960s, T.S. Monk was a young jazz musician of the 1970s.  As jazz clubs diminished in numbers there was no place for jazz musicians to work.  "We played the boogaloo gigs which were basically R&B gigs. It was the infusion of the young jazz musicians that created the classic era that culminated with bands like Earth Wind and Fire.  The music expanded exponentially as the result of Herbie Hancock bringing the electric piano to the music, the likes of Wes Montgomery bringing a whole new kind of rhythm sound and by the harmonic innovations created by the likes of my father, Thelonious Monk.  The most influential period of jazz on American music actually came during that period some believe was the dead period for jazz," continued Monk who started his career as an R&B artist during the period that jazz artists found work in jazz scarce.  T.S. Monk's most recent recording is entitled Verbiest and Monk, Father and Son.

Tickets for Jazz Forum at 35! on Saturday, June 28th can be purchased at the NYU Skirball Center Shagan Box Office by calling 866-811-4111.  For additional information on Jazz Forum Arts call 888-99-BEBOP or visit www,

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Michael Jackson Tribute is invincible

As many of us know, Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009.  It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since his death.  But to commemorate his passing and to remind the world how much we miss Michael, creator, producer and director Darrin Ross has put together a show in memory of Michael which is nothing less than spectacular. Via his show, “Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson,” fans will once again be able to connect with the spirit of the beloved performer.  The show featuring impersonators Jibreel Moray (young Michael) Pete Carter (dancing Michael) and Jeffrey Perez (live concert Michael) will showcase at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, in the Bronx, on Saturday, June 21st at 8:00 pm.

When asked about the enormity of putting together the extravaganza, Ross remarked,
“To put the project together you have to be a 100% fan and lover of Michael Jackson, his music and his legacy of videos.  You have to admire the things Michael did and to honor him, try and bring a piece of that magic to the stage, which I hope I’ve done in creating the show, “Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson,” stated the producer. “Naturally, I cannot do it alone. The cast has passionately endeavored to keep the positive memory of Michael alive.  Every year we recreate the production and bring it to the most stellar level.  This year, with the release of the new album Xscape, we have decided to reinterpret a bit of this new production and do some new songs live on stage. People will be surprised by impersonator Jeffrey Perez, who is an amazing vocal impersonator of Michael Jackson.  He is going to blow your mind on June 21st when we bring the show to Lehman Center.  Jeffrey brings back the spirit of Michael like no other.  It will be as if you are hearing Michael alive on the stage again,” continued Darrin.

Pete Carter another impersonator, has worked with Darrin Ross on various other productions and used his talents as a visionary and performer to join Ross in coming up with various concepts and surprises for the show.  “Since the amazing hologram performance did happen, we are going to recreate that on stage with Pete Carter.  This is the MJ tribute you do not want to miss; fans are going to be amazed, “claims Ross who stated he is always trying to be an innovator who introduces different ideas and people to his production.  As part of the show, Ross is featuring guest performances by the fabulous Harlem GospeLive singers; the American beat-boxer Kenny Muhammad, the human orchestra; a Lite feet dance performance by NYC's own W.A.F.F.L.E, as well as breathtaking visuals and a live band with master percussionists and singers.

"When I create a show, I look at the production as if MJ was in the audience himself.  I think would Jackson
like the show?  I imagine that if Michael would give me a standing ovation, I’ve done my job.  That is the barometer I try to stick to,” stated the show’s creator.

Ross started his career in the 1980s doing musical production.  In the ‘90s, he went into TV and did national TV and radio production.  He started in theater with the dance company, Rennie Harris’s Puremovement. Harris was the pioneer of hip hop dance theatre.  Mr. Ross has done plays, scores for ballets with Judith Jamison and Robert Battle of Alvin Ailey.  He has done hip hop productions.  He is a man that loves to take things to another level.

“We all miss MJ dearly and when you see people representing him or imitating him, this brings back the feelings people had when they first heard an MJ song or watched one of his videos or danced to his music. A lot of people saw the Music Award show and some liked the hologram while others didn’t, but what the hologram did was bring that positive feeling fans had when Michael was alive and you waited for him to appear on stage.  The audience will definitely relive that feeling again via the Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson show. We do the things that are different like Slave to the Rhythm and Love Never Felt so Good.  If you love Michael Jackson’s music and love his legacy, you have to see this show!” claimed Darrin.

Jeffrey Perez at the age of one was already bouncing around to Michael Jackson’s “Bad” Album. “The “Bad” album had just come out at that time.  A lot of children loved MJ, me included” stated Jeffrey Perez.  “At the age of One, I could hardly talk but I tried to dance to the song.  Even as a child, I felt like I was supposed to be an entertainer of some sort.  I had no idea it would be impersonating Michael Jackson, but that is what it turned out to be.  As soon as I am in costume, I start channeling Michael.  During the time I am performing on stage, I actually feel I am being Michael in some form or another,” remarked Jeffrey.

“There are not a lot of people who perform some of the songs I do.  I will be performing songs from the new album Xscape during the show. Everyday, I listen to a Michael song or watch a video in order to prepare.  Michael is part of my life.  It’s almost like studying for a test you have to review. I’ve done MJ so much that I no longer have to review. I try to stay as close to the image of Michael Jackson as I can,” remarked the Phoenix native, who also does his own show call the Legend Show when he is not performing as an MJ impersonator with the Invincible show. 

For tickets to "Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson" on June 21, call the Lehman Center Box Office at 718-960-8833 or go on line at

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