Last weekend, the Apollo went back-to-the-future of its historic past as it hosted “Jazz à la Carte,” a variety show featuring comedy, dance, and live music–and part of the weeklong (and first annual) Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival. The show, “Wycliffe Gordon’s Jazz à la Carte,” had renaissance man/trombonist Gordon holding down the multiple roles of musical impresario and music director, actor and comedian Robbie Todd as master of ceremonies, tap dancer/rhythm master Savion Glover bringing da house down, the Temple University Jazz Band playing effusive energetic straight ahead jazz as the backing band, jazz vocalist Carla Cook there to show the young ones how it’s done, the Jazz a la Carte dancers hot-stepping to Kenneth L. Roberson’s choreography, and finally, the young ones…trombonist Corey Wilcox, saxophonist Grace Kelly, and singer Nikki Yanofsky representing the future of jazz.
The festival, rooted in Harlem’s jazz history, is meant to do more than relive the past. It’s meant to look at where jazz is today, where it’s going tomorrow, and who will be the ones to move it into the future. The Apollo too is looking at its brilliant past and revisioning its role in shaping the future of music, and the future of Harlem.
In the meantime, here’s another jazz conundrum: trumpet or trombone?