In the September 2023 issue of Jersey Jazz Magazine, we reported that pianist Marc Devine would be presenting a tribute to Junior Mance on September 20, during Devine’s weeklong gig at Bryant Park’s Piano in the Park series.
Devine is one of five pianists closing out the Piano in the Park season. Here’s the rest of the schedule: September 4-8, Yuka Aikawa; September 11-15, Danny Mixon; September 25-29, Deanna Witkowski. Then, on October 6, Terry Waldo’s Gotham City Big Band will play the official finale.
Aikawa was one of the pianists on pioneering bassist Carline Ray’s debut album, Vocal Sides, produced by her daughter, vocalist Catherine Russell, in 2013. Ray, who passed away shortly after the album was released, at the age of 88, graduated from the Juilliard School of Music in 1946 and became a member of the Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-female, integrated music group.
Mixon, who has appeared with such jazz giants as vocalist Betty Carter, guitarist Grant Green, and bassist Charles Mingus, will feature a “Tap-A-Long”, with a guest tap dancer, on Thursday, September 14. Witkowski (photo above), a biographer of legendary pianist Mary Lou Williams, covered all stages of Williams’ career in a 2022 MCG album, Force of Nature. In a review of the recording, AllAboutJazz’s Jerome Wilson wrote that Witkowski “plays with a muscular swagger which meshes nicely with the hard-edged sense of swing present in Williams’ writing.”
The Piano in the Park performances, on the Fifth Avenue side of Bryant Park (by the green piano), run from 12:30-2:30 p.m. (An incorrect time slot was given in the JJ article about Marc Devine and Junior Mance).
PHOTO BY ERIKA KAPIN