While the genre of jazz brew like a primordial stew in New Orleans from the collisions of varying cultural influences, New York City’s Harlem also had a role in shaping the jazz sound. With the rise of Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club in the early 20th century, jazz music anchored much of the entertainment that built the city’s Black nightlife. A new stage performance, JAZZLAND, pays homage to jazz’s flourishing in Harlem.
What began as an idea about an animated feature evolved into a theatrical performance with singing and dancing that became JAZZLAND, conceived by actress/writer/director Tamara Tunie— known for her appearances in Law and Order, As the World Turns and The Devil’s Advocate— jazz pianist Eric Reed, and writers Charles Leipart and Scott Crockett. Tunie specifically wanted this project to promote arts education and integrate local student actors, musicians, singers and dancers from Harlem School of the Arts, Harlem Stage and Manhattan School of Music as a means to engage and build Harlem’s community.
JAZZLAND centers Harlem as the nucleus of all American music and is a unique take on Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice In Wonderland. Famous for its Renaissance, resistance, and hub for a slew of writers, artists, thinkers and creators, Harlem will always be a touchstone for innovation. JAZZLAND combines Southern culture with Northern style as it brings New Orleans right to Manhattan! You can visit JAZZLAND from now until May 20th, 2018 at the Harlem School of Music.
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