SummerStage in Queens: Free Performances in Queensbridge Park


New York, NY– City Parks Foundation is proud to announce the 2016 season of SummerStage, New York City’s largest free performing arts festival, bringing more than 115 free performances to Central Park and 15 neighborhood parks throughout the five boroughs. In Queens, the festival opens with a big night of music on June 26 in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park featuring R&B star, Ginuwine. Programming will continue throughout July in Socrates Sculpture Park and Queensbridge Park both in Long Island City.

Tuesday, July 26
Black Moon & Smif-N-Wessun, performing a tribute
to Enta Da Stage & Dah Shinin’
Queensbridge Park, QN
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Black Moon is the legendary Hip-Hop group comprised of Buckshot, 5FT
and DJ Evil Dee.

They stormed on the scene with the debut of their classic album, ‘Enta Da Stage,’ which featured hits such as Who Got The Props, How Many Emcees and Gotcha Opin. The group later went on to release follow up titles, such as War Zone & Total Eclipse.

Smif-N-Wessun is the historic duo of Tek & Steele.
The group forever changed the borough of Brooklyn’s name to BUCKTOWN. Smif-N-Wessun’s debut album,
‘Dah Shinin,’ was comprised of hit songs such as Bucktown, Sound Bwoy Bureill, and Stand Strong. Other projects include The Rude Awakening, Reloaded, Monumental and Born & Raised. Smif-N-Wessun are also known for their work with Mary J Blige, Tupac, and Aaliyah.

Wednesday, July 27
Dianne Reeves / DJ Greg Caz
Queensbridge Park, QN
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Dianne Reeves is the pre-eminent jazz vocalist in the world today. As a result of her virtuosity, improvisational prowess and unique jazz and R&B stylings, Dianne has received five Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album and an honorary doctorate of music from Julliard. Dianne’s magical, timeless voice, exceptional personality and the sheer force of her performance mark her as a captivating world-class artist. In what is her first album in more than five years, the Grammy Award winning Beautiful Life is a soul-jazz classic. Produced by Terri Lyne Carrington and featuring artists such as Gregory Porter, Robert Glasper, Lalah Hathaway and Esperanza Spalding, Dianne’s arsenal of talents is richly on display in each and every song on Beautiful Life. Adored by audiences and critics alike throughout the world, Dianne Reeves is a natural wonder not to be missed.

DJ Greg Caz has been spinning around New York since the early 1990s. He made a name for himself during his long stint at Black Betty (R.I.P.) in Williamsburg, where he co-hosted Brazilian Beat Sundays – a raucous DJ night of 1970s Brazilian dance music that inspired two mix CDs, Baile Funk, Vols. 1 & 2. Caz caught the “sweet sickness” of record collecting at a young age and owns crates and crates of funk, soul, rare grooves, reggae, jazz, golden-era hip hop, Latin music, ’70s soft rock and African music. He has long been a resident DJ at Nublu in the East Village, and recently provided lyric translations for the reissue of four Marcos Valle albums on Light in the Attic records. He has appeared in London, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Scotland, Ireland, Los Angeles, San Francisco,
Washington DC, Chicago, Montreal and elsewhere.

Thursday, July 28
Lyfe Jennings
Queensbridge Park, QN
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Lyfe Jennings
(born Chester Jennings in Toledo, Ohio) is an African American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, record producer, and instrumentalist. He plays the guitar, bass, and piano which he integrates into his music. Jennings began singing at a young age in a Toledo church choir. He later joined a group called The Dotsons with two of his cousins and his older brother, Jay. The group separated in the early 1990s, and Jennings rediscovered music and started a music program at an Ohio prison where he was serving a ten-year sentence on an arson-related charge. He has cited Erykah Badu’s 1997 album Baduizm as one of the reasons for his rediscovery.

Jennings was released from prison in December 2002 and started to pursue a solo career in music. In January 2003, he performed in Harlem at the Showtime at The Apollo. The same year, he also independently released his first EP, What Is Love.

To further pursue his career, Jennings moved to New York City where he performed at rapper Nelly’s concert at Radio City Music Hall, at an NAACP convention where he performed an original song called “Thank God for the NAACP”, and at the Cafeteria in Chelsea, Manhattan during the blackout on August 14. He signed with Columbia Records and released his debut album Lyfe 268-192 (268-192 was his inmate number) in August 2004. His first single was Stick Up Kid, which didn’t see much success until after the album was released. The album featured his hit single “Must Be Nice”. Jennings’ second album The Phoenix was released in August 2006. The first single, “S.E.X.”, features Jennings’ protégé, singer LaLa Brown.

Friday, July 29
Nuyorican Poets Cafe: Paolo Javier and Maria
Lisella host a night of Queens poets
Queensbridge Park, QN
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Paolo Javier’s musical collaboration with Listening Center (aka David Mason) will appear as a limited edition book, Ur’lyeh, and cassette, Aklopolis, published by Flugschriften in spring 2016. The former Queens Poet Laureate (2010-14), he is the author of four full-length collections of poetry, including Court of the Dragon (Nightboat Books, 2015), and lives with his family in Sunnyside, Queens.

Native New Yorker and Queens-born and -bred, Maria Lisella is the sixth winner in the competition for Queens Poet Laureate 2015-2018 and the first Italian American to win that competition. She is the author of the collection
Thieves in the Family (NYQ Books), and two chapbooks (Amore on Hope Street, from Finishing Line Press, and Two Naked Feet, from Poets Wear Prada). She co-curates the Italian American Writers Association’s readings and is a charter member of Brevitas. She is an award-winning travel writer and editor who is currently USA TODAY’s New York expert.

Saturday, July 30
Stefanie Batten Bland with Burnt Sugar the Arkestra
Chamber / Master Class: Karisma Jay
Queensbridge Park, QN
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Batten Bland is a choreographic artist who creates performances rooted in community, highlighting the delicate threads that connect us to one another and to our planet. Based in contemporary dance theatre, Company SBB constructs futuristic environments with installations ripe in poetic theatrical flavors that are emotionally driven. In 2008 while head choreographer of the Paris Opera Comique, in France under direction of Jérôme Savary, Stefanie founded Company SBB so that she might better investigate the human condition and relationships within our natural world. Her works for stage, nontraditional spaces and dance cinema have performed throughout Europe, Asia and the USA. SBB also creates for gala and VIP events such as Guerlain Perfumes, Van Cleef & Arpels, Louis Vuitton, SYTYCD-Poland and for the 2012 French Presidential gala in Cannes France.

True to her name, Brooklyn-native, Karisma Jay, is an honors graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts where she majored in dance. She is a graduate of New York University’s Gallatin School where she studied Performing Arts and Pre-Medicine and is a certificate student of the Mathematics Education Master’s program at City College. Teaching dance since the tender age of 11, she has honed her skills of working with children and adults to develop the confidence and charisma of even the shyest, youngest and/or oldest of students. Dancing and performing since the age of two, she has studied at Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Ailey School (Junior Division) and has performed/toured with prestigious dance companies such as Brooklyn Ballet, Maimouna Keita, Creative Outlet, Asase Yaa, and Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence. Professionally, Karisma has been featured in programs aired on Netflix, BET, MTV, NBC, and VH1. She is the 2016 winner of The Stars of New York Dance Award and Caribbean Life’s Impact Award. In 2013, Karisma joined the company of the longest-running Off Broadway musical, STOMP. She is the Artistic Director and Founder of AbunDance Academy of the Arts with a mission to lead by example so that everyone who crosses paths with her flourishes AbunDantly.

Sunday, July 31
Marc Cary: The Harlem Sessions / Joseph Webb:
Dancing Buddhas / WBGO Kids Jazz featuring Brianna Thomas and The Jazz Travelers
Queensbridge Park, QN
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Jazz pianist, keyboardist, producer and composer Marc Cary holds tight to his roots in Washington, D.C.’s go-go music scene, but they represent only one element among the myriad. Cary’s interests run from Indian classical to Malian music to hip-hop. He started his career working with Betty Carter, a legendary vocalist famous for drawing soul and sincerity out of her bands, and went on to work with Roy Hargrove, Dizzy Gillespie, Erykah Badu, Shirley Horn, Stefon Harris, Q-Tip and – most influential of all – Abbey Lincoln.

Joseph Monroe Webb is an international award winning dancer, choreographer, actor, educator and poet who has showcased his talents in a number of performances throughout the years, including the Tony Award winning Broadway production, Bring in ‘Da Noise Bring in ‘Da Funk. Following his Broadway success, Webb ventured into acting in television and film, including Martin Scorsese’s film Bringing Out The Dead, Black Nativity starring Angela Basset and Forest Whitaker, a short film by Red Bull Academy Music NYC, and more. Joseph was cast as a principal in a short Morningstar Farms documentary, to be released in April 2016. He has also performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Live with Regis and Kathy Lee. Joseph has appeared as a feature and/or starring act in the cast of the Thank You Gregory, Tap Stars (Hamburg, Germany), Cotton Club Parade with Wynton Marsalis, and more. Joseph received raves reviews for his first major work at University Settlement, with the NY Times citing Joseph and his ability to blend various genres of art into one show as, “too hard to categorize, but there is no doubt he is a natural star.” In March 2016, Joseph returned to University Settlement (NYC) to debut the premiere of his latest work, Dancing Buddhas: The Three Jewels, to a sold out audience. Joseph is excited to continue developing part II and III of this dance-theatre series with the Dancing Buddhas professional dance company.

According to Will Friedwald at The Wall Street Journal, vocalist Brianna Thomas “… may well be the best young straight-ahead jazz singer of her generation.” Thomas was born and raised in Peoria, IL where she first cut her teeth as a performer. Initially taught and influenced by her Father, drummer and vocalist Charlie Thomas, Brianna comes from a rich background of diverse musical influences. Brianna moved to NYC in 2007 to attend college at The New School University and has since established herself as a talented vocalist on the scene today. Since graduating in 2011 she has performed with jazz greats Wycliffe Gordon, Wynton Marsalis, Russell Malone, The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra and longtime hero Dianne Reeves.

Thomas has also performed Nationally and Internationally ranging from the “Women In Jazz Festival” at Jazz At Lincoln Center to the prestigious Montreaux, Umbria, Bern and Sochi Jazz Festivals. Brianna recently released her debut album “You Must Believe In Love” Feb 17th 2014 on Sound On Purpose Records. The best illustration of Ms Thomas is given by the words of legendary trombonist and Jazz Messenger Curtis Fuller: “a marvelous new artist who has all it takes to reach the top of the jazz profession and music in general.”

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