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The Birth of a Movement: The 1st Annual New York Jazz Film Festival


The New York Jazz Film Festival is starting a movement in Harlem to put jazz back in the streets and showcase jazz musician-actors.

New York, NY (PRWEB) October 17, 2016

Jazz is dead. Jazz lives--within academia. No matter what your vantage point, a movement comprised of jazz musician-actors, writers, directors, composers and fans, all assembled under the roof of "Jazz Cinema" has been born in 2016 in Harlem with a mission of pulling jazz back into pop culture.

The New York Jazz Film Festival (NYJFF), created as an annual festival that is free to the public, will take place on November 12 and 13, 2016 at the famed Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on 125th Street; the Festival is the first of a three-pronged project establishing Harlem as the Mecca for this movement, says Executive Producer Sue Veres Royal.

Created by jazz trombonist Gregory Charles Royal, who as artistic director of American Youth Symphony has worked to transition jazz performers into actors in mediums such as theatre, TV and film, comments on the festival:

"Although music never dies, the industry framework in which jazz music existed has been dead for a long time. The instrumental musician, the jazz musician, unlike say the hip hop performer, never transitioned from the nightclub to those 21st century vessels of communication: dramatic and reality TV, film and theatre. Music videos and audio recordings are simply not sufficient for a variety of reasons. My duh moment though is that we 'got it' in the Golden Age of film with Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong and even in more modern times with Harry Connick Jr. and Reuben Blades, but what's happened since then? We need to put jazz, as August Wilson said, 'right in the people's lap'."

The 2016 NYJFF lineup will screen a handful of films that showcase some up- and-coming jazz-acting talents including "Kojo" featuring jazz drummer prodigy Kojo Roney (nephew of Grammy Award winning trumpet legend Wallace Roney);"Thrive" featuring blind piano prodigy Matthew Whitaker (who is also the subject of the new docu-series "Young Marvels" on the Ovation Network); and Duke Ellington Orchestra and Broadway alum Gregory Charles Royal's "World's Not for Me", which won the Harlem Spotlight Award for Best Narrative Short at the 2016 Harlem International Film Festival and whose musical score was performed by him in 1978 when he was just 17 years old as a trombonist with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Another standout of this year's festival in narrative fiction featuring a jazz musician-actor "Lunches with Mel" starring virtuoso violinist Aaron Weinstein.

In its first year, the Festival received approximately 400 international jazz submissions in the categories of Features, Shorts, Music Videos and Out of Competition. Forty-four films have been selected for screening.

The 2016 NYJFF Full Lineup including synopses, and screen times are available here:

The two other components of the jazz movement in Harlem will include regular street jazz on 125th Street throughout the year and a 125th Street livestream hangout staffed by hosts who will interview jazz musicians in public view year round. The 2017 NYJFF will transition into a larger outdoor festival and will be moved to the month of September.

The festival is produced by SVR & Associates and American Youth Symphony.

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