There are a lot of notable people buried in New York City’s Woodlawn Cemetery. The 400-acre cemetery is the final resting place to some 300,000 souls from all walks of life. In fact, Woodlawn’s history is so rich that it is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Among those buried there are artists, politicians, and giants of industry. One group of individuals that is particularly well represented are the jazz greats. Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, and at least two dozen others who made an indelible mark on the jazz world are interred at Woodlawn.
Each April, Woodlawn hosts a special Jazz Appreciation Month. But this year, the cemetery was also a featured venue for the annual Make Music New York festival (MMNY) that is sponsored by NPR. The theme for this year’s festival was “Exquisite Corpse.”
In the 1920s, an old parlor game inspired a method of incremental collaboration among visual artists and poets, which became known as exquisite corpse. On Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 4PM ET, NPR Music, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Make Music New York (MMNY) are applying that same playful tradition to music in a public performance event that links the very roots of jazz to its thriving present.
Michael Mwenso, jazz vocalist and Curator of the Late Night Sessions program at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, will gather with a group of talented musicians from the New York area for a short performance the Woodlawn Cemetery. The space holds special value to the jazz community as the resting place for some of its greats – W.C. Handy, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and many others. Joining Mwenso for the performance are trumpeters Alphonso Horne and Bruce Harris, saxophonist Tivon Pennicott, Chris Patishall on melodica, bassist Russell Hall, drummer Evan Sherman, vocalist Vuyo Sotashe and tap dancer Michela Marino Lerman – all regular performers at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Read the full event press release