Gordon Parks International Debut: BAND (Black Artists’ Network in Dialogue) took over the space above the Scotiabank branch at Queen St. W & Lansdowne in Toronto. Their first exhibit – Portraits: Gordon Parks, opened April 25th and continues to August 3rd. Parks, the first African American photographer ever to work on staff at Life Magazine, started working for Vogue Magazine in the 40s but he became famous for his photos of every day life in places such as Harlem (where he lived) and the segregated South. He also shot memorable photos of the famous such as Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali. The Parks exhibit is part of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.
Chaka Khan, who has performed in the genres – R&B, funk, soul, disco, gospel and jazz, will open the TD Toronto Jazz Festival June 19th. She will appear on the Toronto Star Stage in Nathan Phillips Square (Queen & Bay, Toronto). Performers over the 12-day event include Dianne Reeves (June 24 – Toronto Star Stage), Keith Jarret (June 28 – Roy Thomson Hall), Roy Hargrove (June 27 – St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts) Earth Wind & Fire (June 24 – Sony Theatre) Bobby McFerrin (June 17 – Toronto Star Stage) and Measha Bruggergosman (June 26, Koerner Hall). Although known primarily as an opera singer, Bruggergosman will present an evening of jazz standards.
The son of famed jazz musician John Coltrane has donated one of his father’s saxophones to the Museum of American History at the Smithsonian. Ravi Coltrane donated a Selmar Mark VI tenor sax, which was made in Paris about 1965, to mark the 50th anniversary of Coltrane’s masterpiece “A Love Supreme”. Also, photographer Chuck Stewart donated some never before displayed photos taken at the recording session of A Love Supreme.
Ska Revisited: “Gimme One Riddum” showcases ska music, a distinct genre that burst on the Jamaican scene in 1959/60. An all-Black cast of 10 (5 men, 5 women) was a hit when it played at Harbourfront Centre’s Next Step series March 27-29. “Gimme One Riddum” was originally performed in 2013 during Black History Month under the sponsorship of TD Then & Now and was so successful co-producers, choreographers Jasmyn Fyffe and Natasha Powell decided to expand the production. They added an additional 20minutes of new material and introduced a live band led by Gerald Heslop. Fyffe and Powell say they think of their production as Jamaica’s freedom soundtrack (the reference to Jamaica’s 50th Independence anniversary in 2012). Many will recall Ska’s international hit “My Boy Lollipop” and Millie Small’s 1964 cover that sold more than seven million records worldwide. Ska was the forerunner to Rock Steady and Reggae and “Gimme One Riddum” is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful time in Jamaica’s history.
“Belle”, a movie based on a real-life woman who was the illegitimate daughter of a slave and a captain in the British Admiralty – Sir John Lindsey, opened recently. Belle stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the title role. Directed by Britain’s Amma Asante, the lavish 18th century historical movie presents an unique perspective of slavery as well as addressing issues of gender, class and power – all from a woman’ perspective.
“Get On Up” – directed by Brian Glazer (Help), the movie chronicles the rise of James Brown to the ultimate Godfather of Soul. Chadwick Boseman, Jill Scott, Nelsan Ellis and Tika Sumpter star.