Natalie Cole

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8/19/2003
Free Jazz Fest in NYC
IN AUGUST, THE JAZZ IS FREE June is traditionally the jazz festival season in New York, with the JVC festival taking over concert halls around the city. But for thrifty jazz fans, August is the the most wonderful time of the year, when festivals take to city parks and the big names play free. The J&R Jazzfest begins tonight and runs for five days through Sunday with more than 15 acts in City Hall Park. Al Jarreau, above, headlines today, with Najee and Yolanda Adams, beginning at 5 p.m. It continues Thursday through Sunday with David Sanchez, Cyrus Chestnut, the Bad Plus, Terence Blanchard, Grady Tate and Andy Parsons. CD 101.9's Jazz Festival runs Friday through Saturday at Hudson River Park, along the West Side Highway at 14th Street. George Benson, Natalie Cole and Spyro Gyra are to perform. Also this weekend, the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival returns, though mostly unchanged. Last year, its 10th, the festival's organizers announced that they could no longer produce the event. But the City Parks Foundation took it on, and as in previous years it will take place at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem on Saturday and Tompkins Square Park in the East Village — near Charlie Parker's 1950's home on Avenue B — on Sunday. Saturday's performers are to include Roy Haynes, Carla Cook and the Three Altos (Sonny Fortune, Gary Bartz and Vincent Herring), and Sunday will see Lonnie Plaxico, Jeff Watts and Charles McPherson. Phil Schaap, the scholarly jazz host on WKCR-FM, will introduce the headliners on Sunday.
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