Upper East Side music lovers are in luck. This month, two music groups will be making their return to the neighborhood. Steve Shaiman and Swingtime Big Band will be playing at Carl Schurz park on Wednesday July 20th after a two year hiatus, and 92NY’s Jazz in July Festival will be taking place over four nights between July 19th and July 28th.
Both events are perfect for casual fans and aficionados alike. Whether you break out into swing dance in Schurz or plan on enjoying summer jazz at 92NY, you are bound to have a good time.
The Swingtime Big Band has been performing at Schurz Park since 2010, although pandemic concerns prevented them from playing the past two summers. “We’re particularly thrilled to be coming back after this break,” said Steve Shaiman, the band’s conductor and manager, “It’s one of the gigs that we look forward to most in our summer.”
The performance is free to the public. Swingtime’s performances attract large, diverse crowds. “We’re excited that we’re able to have multigenerational audiences – for some, the music brings back great memories, while others are able to discover swing for the first time,” said Shaiman.
Spontaneous dancing often breaks out at the band’s Schurz performances, which brings lively energy to the concert.
The band plays a unique set of around 22 songs each year at their Carl Schurz concert. This year, the night’s theme is “Sunrise Serenade,” featuring songs related to the sun.
Swingtime also traditionally honors iconic artists’ 100th birthdays at their concerts. Next week, the band will play songs in tribute of music director, composer, arranger Neil Hefti; classic trumpeter and bandleader Ray Anthony; and singers Doris Day and Judy Garland.
This year is also Swingtime’s 50th anniversary since the band’s 1972 debut. Founded by Bob Rotunda as “Stardusters Big Band,” Shaiman rebranded the band when he took over in 2005. Though the Swingtime’s name may be new, the 20-set authentic band is still devoted to playing classic Swing tunes.
Shaiman, a New Yorker born and raised, got his start leading Big Bands as a junior at Stuyvesant High School. Shaiman has had a lifelong interest in music history, a passion he brings to his performances.
The performance will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Several hundred fans are expected, so if you would like a seat, make sure to get there early.
Jazz in July
This summer marks the 37th season of 92NY’s Jazz in July, which will feature four separate acts between July 19-28. Bill Charlap, Grammy award winning piano player, has directed the event for the past 18 years.
The festival features never-before seen musician combos. On the 19th, the Bill Charlap trio will be performing with Joshua Redman; on July 21, Kenny Barron, Bill Charlap and Aaron Diehl will perform; On the 26th Joe Lovano, Warren Wolf and Samara Joy share the stage; and on the 28th Mike Stern, Chris Potter and Nicole Glover make their joint debut.
In classic jazz fashion, every performance is based on improvisation and hence is unique. “I have the same sense of discovery as everyone else, both in the audience and on the bandstand, of that magic first meeting,” said Charlap.
As did Dick Hyman, Jazz in July’s previous director, Charlap both hosts and plays in all of the concerts. “I get to really experience some of my all-time heroes – from jazz masters like Kenny Barron, who’s 79 years old, to Nicole Glover, who’s in her 20s. We have all kinds of varying aesthetics and they all work together,” said Charlap.
Charlap was born to a musical family – his father was theater composer Moose Charlap and his mother is Sandy Stewart, a Grammy nominated jazz singer. He attended the High School of Performing Arts (now LaGuardia).
All performances begin at 7:30 and run without intermission. You can purchase tickets on 92NY’s website: 92ny.org. For select performances, you also have the option of buying online tickets to livestream the production.
“I have the same sense of discovery as everyone else, both in the audience and on the bandstand, of that magic first meeting.” Jazz pianist Bill Charlap