Jack Kerouac’s musical side celebrated on his centenary with the help of his friend, 91-year-old pioneer David Amram

A Friday (Sept. 16) concert at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan centered around 100 years of Beat Generation author/poet Jack Kerouac, but the more astounding number on hand that night was 65; it was so many years ago that one of the artists of the night, David Amram, pioneered improvisation jazz poetry at an art gallery just a few blocks away back in 1957 next door On the road author. And though more years have passed since then than Kerouac spent on earth, 91-year-old Amram remains nimble on everything from piano to pan flute as he effortlessly dispenses wit bon mots right by the hand.

Together with Latin jazz maestro Bobby Sanabria, Amram toasted the legacy of his late friend and collaborator as part of The village tour, an annual festival celebrating the rich cultural and musical heritage of NYC’s Greenwich Village. (In its fourth iteration, the festival has expanded to a two-week affair, running Sept. 10-25.) But the atmosphere at Joe’s Pub on Friday night felt less legacy and more alive. Entitled Children of the American Bop (And Mambo!) Night, the concert was a living, flowing and breathing dose of Charlie Parker-style bebop and mambo music (think Titos, Puente and Rodríguez) fueling the pounding rhythms in the Beat Generation and its scribes, from Kerouac to Allen Ginsberg.

With bandleader Sanabria on drums and Amram alternating between piano, bongos and pennywhistle, the main band (which included Amram’s son Adam on percussion) was joined by Bronx native Jennifer Jade Ledesna, whose soulful vocals and nimble dancing commanded the stage during the mambo. speak up; Newark, NJ-raised Antoinette Montague, an astonishingly powerful jazz and blues singer whose pipes and presence lifted the evening; plus actress Adira Amram (David’s daughter) and the irrepressible Marcos de la Fuente, who performed Kerouac’s words in English and Spanish, respectively, while the band played the music Kerouac adored.

“Shakespeare said ‘brevity is the soul of wit’ / As for tonight, I think it is,” Amram said to a groove at the end of the show. (In a strange coincidence, Turner Classic Movies began airing the 1961s Splendor in the Grass shortly after the performance ended, which includes a score by Amram – so in a sense his music continued into the evening long after he left the stage.)

It is far from over for The Village Trip, which extends for another week and includes several musical events. There are two concert salutes to Phil Ochs (September 18 and 21), an evening of music from Charlie Parker and Stefan Wolpe (September 22), a celebration of Philip Glass at 85 (September 23) and much more.


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