Voza Rivers and Jamal Joseph of the New Heritage Theatre Group will be the first honorees of the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Hall of Fame in recognition of their illustrious history and the center’s 10th anniversary celebration, Oct. 6, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Lt. the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Community Center, 34 W. 134th St. New Heritage is celebrating its 54th anniversary this month.
The 1960s became a volatile political moment that exploded into the Black Power Movement and ignited the cultural flames of the Black Arts Movement. This movement gave Black theater its revolutionary voice and the spirited roots reflect life from a historical and cultural perspective.
As Amiri Baraka was developing the Black Art Repertory Theatre/School, the playwright/director Garland Thompson founded the Frank Silvera Writer’s Workshop in Harlem (1973), along with Morgan Freeman, Billie Allen and journalist Clayton Riley.
In 1964, the playwright, actor and director Roger Furman, whose career dated back to the American Negro Theater of the 1940s, had founded the New Heritage Theatre in Harlem. He started it as a street theater with Haryou-Act, the federally financed Harlem anti-poverty program. Under his leadership, the group produced more than 35 plays that included “The Long Black Block,” which won the Audelco Award for Excellence in Black Theater, “On Strivers Row” and “Fat Tuesday.”
After the death of Furman in 1983, his protégé Rivers took the theater reins as executive director and his partner Joseph as executive artistic director. As the New Heritage Theatre Group, the oldest Black nonprofit theater company in New York City, they have created multiple divisions: IMPACT Repertory Theatre, The Roger Furman Reading Series and New Heritage Films.
The following day at the same location from noon to 6 p.m., there will be various activities, including a panel discussion with Rivers titled, “Art as an Expression of Faith & Culture,” from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.
Jazz has been a part of Japan for many years, and the spiritual roots of their music has filtered into America, including their perspectives on jazz. On Oct. 8, at 3 p.m., Japanese drummers, dancers and singers, the Inamori Art Group, will perform aspects of their “Prayer of Love & Peace Music Concert.” An RSVP is appreciated. Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/prayer-of-love-peace-concert-music-from-japan for more information.
The bassist, composer and educator Ron Carter gets recognition as the best dressed jazz musician and one of the most recorded bass players in jazz history. He was a member of the 1965-68 Miles Davis Quintet, described as one of the best in the annals of jazz. He has led jazz/classical ensembles, all strings, trios and quartets and has recorded with A Tribe Called Quest.
Carter’s vocabulary of the music from jazz to classical and genres in between is very extensive. During his engagement at the Birdland, 315 W. 44th St., Oct. 3 to Oct. 7, he will offer a variety of different chords.
Carter’s Great Big Band will include trumpeters Jon Owens, John Chudoba, Freddie Hendrix and Alex Norris; trombonists Jason Jackson, Steve Davis, James Burton and Douglas Purviance; saxophonists Antonio Hart and David DeJesus (alto sax/soprano sax/flute), Bobby LaVell and Ivan Renta (tenor sax/clarinet/flute) and Jay Brandford (baritone sax); pianist Donald Vega; guitarist Greg Skaff; and drummer Payton Crossley. Two shows each night are at 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. For reservations, call 212-581-3080.