May 01, 2001

Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Al Jarreau, Rachelle Ferrell, Daniela Mercury and Albita will be featured along with other major names in contemporary music at the first Verizon Music Festival, Aug. 7--11 in New York City.

The festival will be a comprehensive event consisting of premiere concerts with headlining acts, a series of free outdoor shows, a three-day tribute to jazz improvisation throughout the years, and a feature that will highlight new and rising stars.

Verizon Music Festival performances are scheduled for New York City music venues such as the Beacon Theatre, Bryant Park, City Center, the Quad at Columbia University and the PACE Downtown Theater at PACE University. Chuck Mangione, Wayne Shorter, Abbey Lincoln, James Carter, and George Duke also will be festival headliners.

"The line-up of star talent and newcomers in this first Verizon Music Festival is just what we wanted to reflect the history and importance of music in New York City," said Bruce Gordon, president of Verizon Retail Markets Group. "The Verizon Music Festival is truly a reflection of the cultures and tastes of our customers and the communities that make New York City the 'capital of the world.' We are honored to be able to bring such rich and diverse music to so many people."

The New York Verizon Music Festival promises to deliver five consecutive nights of diverse and unique performances such as the first-ever performance of Ray Charles and Natalie Cole together at City Center. Both performers will do full sets that will include some of their biggest hits.

Another festival highlight will be a spirited performance by some of Latin music's most critically acclaimed international sensations -- Albita from Cuba, Brazil's Daniela Mercury and Maria Rivas from Venezuela. The "Latina Grooves" night will be presented at the Beacon Theatre and will be the first time these superstars appear on the same stage.

The Beacon Theatre also will be home to "Hot Summer Nights," a special performance by Al Jarreau, George Duke and Rachelle Ferrell. These three artists, who share a close professional working relationship and friendship off stage, will appear together on stage during the evening.

To complement its lively mix of established talent, the Verizon Music Festival also will present an "Emerging Talent" component that will introduce new faces to the New York music scene. The festival's opening night will showcase some of the best "Emerging Talent" chosen by a selection committee comprised of members from the New York music community, who will announce their picks in early June. Between five and seven performers will be selected in total, with some appearing at the opening concert in Bryant Park with headliner Chuck Mangione, while others will serve as opening acts for well-known performers at later concerts.

The Verizon Music Festival also will feature a historical retrospective of jazz improvisation in the grand traditions of Sun Ra and his Arkestra. Titled "Forward Motion: 50 Years of 'New' Music," this exciting program is a virtual festival within a festival and will take place at the PACE Downtown Theater at PACE University, Aug. 7--9. Influential musicians such as Archie Shepp, Roswell Rudd and Reggie Workman and new keepers of the flame Tim Berne, Nels Cline and DJ Spooky will perform.

"The Verizon Music Festival will have a personality all its own," said George Wein, CEO of Festival Productions, Inc. "With a blend of jazz, blues, soul, world and Latin music, the Verizon Music Festival embodies the melting pot of styles that make up the current New York music community."

The full schedule for the Verizon Music Festival in New York City is:

Tuesday, Aug. 7
The Verizon Spotlight on Emerging Talent
Plus Chuck Mangione
Bryant Park, 5-9 p.m.
Free, open to the public

Wednesday, Aug. 8
"Hot Summer Nights"
Al Jarreau, George Duke, Rachelle Ferrell
Produced in association with SFX
Beacon Theatre, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 9
Ray Charles, Natalie Cole
City Center, 8 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 10
"Latina Grooves"
Daniela Mercury (Brazil), Maria Rivas (Venezuela), Albita (Cuba)
Beacon Theatre, 8p.m.

"Delta Blues Cartel"
featuring Homesick James Williamson, Henry Mule Townsend, Robert Lockwood, Jr. and David Honeyboy Edwards
B.B. King Club & Grill
8 & 10 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 11
Abbey Lincoln
Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Brian Blade, John Patitucci & Danilo Perez
James Carter Chasin' The Gypsy Band
The Big 3 Palladium Orchestra Featuring Giovanni Hidalgo & Tito Puente Jr. (U.S. Debut)
Columbia University Quadrangle, 4-9 p.m.
Free, open to the public

"Forward Motion: 50 Years of New Music" schedule is:

Tuesday, Aug. 7
Artist to be announced
Mark Dresser Trio with Denman Maroney & Mattias Ziegler
Tim Berne's Hard Cell with Craig Taborn & Tom Rainey

Wednesday, Aug. 8
Archie Shepp/Roswell Rudd "Live in New York" with Andrew Cyrille, Grachan Moncur and Reggie Workman

Thursday, Aug. 9
Sun Ra Arkestra
Nels Cline & Gregg Bendian "Interstellar Space Revisited"
DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid

For more information at http://www.festivalproductions.net.

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