Save Birdland' Benefit Concert Featuring Pres. Bill Clinton, Wynton Marsalis, Clive Davis + More - This Sunday, 1/24/21
Since opening their doors in December of 1949, the legendary Birdland Jazz Club has been a home for some of the most respected musicians of all time. Named after Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, the club has hosted all A-list talent from Ella Fitzgerald to Wynton Marsalis and everyone in between. However, time and funds are running out for the once-thrilling night spot.
On the heels of their Save West Bank Café telethon, producers Tom and Michael D’Angora and Tim Guinee were asked by Birdland staff to help their neighborhood jazz club, which was also facing financial troubles brought on by the pandemic. Their fundraising campaign will conclude on January 24th with a free streaming concert titled Save Birdland: A Celebration of Music, History and Community which is set to feature:
Clive Davis, Monty Alexander, Lucie Arnaz, Iain Armitage, Kenneth Ascher, Colleen Ballinger, Erich Bergen, John Bucchino, Terence Blanchard, Stephanie J Block, Matthew Broderick, Scott Bradlee, Brenda Braxton, Ken Burns, Gunhild Carling & Her Darlings, Ron Carter, Jim Caruso, Peter Cincotti, Emmett Cohen Trio, George Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, Elvis Costello, Jeff Daniels, Diana DeGarmo, Aisha De Haas, Natalie Douglas, Michelle Dowdy, Christine Ebersole, Kurt Elling, Kevin Eubanks, Giancarlo Esposito, Whoopi Goldberg, Mandy Gonzalez, Tim Guinne, Amanda Green, Julie Halston, John Heginbotham, Sara Hickman, Perez Hilton, Clint Holmes, Sunny Holiday, Demetia Hopkins-Green, Joe Iconis and Family, Sheila Jordan, Stacey Kent, Tory Kittles, Amy Hillner Larsen, Warren Leight, Amanda Lopez, Melissa Leo, Norm Lewis, Tzi Ma, Manhattan Transfer, Wynton Marsalis, Lauren Marcus, Karen Mason, Marilyn Maye, Audra McDonald, Jane Monheit, Susie Mosher, Anson Mount, Bebe Nuewirth, Leslie Odom, Jr., Arturo O’Farrill Quintet, Mandy Patinkin, Christine Pedi, Wendell Pierce, John Pizzarelli, Martha Plimpton, Randy Rainbow, Chita Rivera, Justin "Squigs" Robertson, Mercedes Ruehl, Catherine Russell, Victoria Shaw, Dee Snyder, Billy Stritch, Veronica Swift, Mary Testa, Steve Tyrell, Lillias White, Frank Wildhorn, Steve Wilson, Amra-Faye Wright, Ace Young, Karen Ziemba, Glenn Zaleski, and remarks from President Bill Clinton.
More performers will be announced in the coming days.
The producing team has started a GoFundMe to raise the needed funds to erase the debts incurred over 2020 and ensure a path to move forward into the new year. Within seven days, fans of the venue from all over the world have raised over $200, 000. Since the club had no outside space for dining or entertainment, they used their government loans to set up a series of streaming concerts, “Radio Free Birdland, ” and prepared the club for safe Covid-friendly in-person performances, only to have indoor dining and entertainment shut down a week after performances resumed. With no financial help on the horizon, a “Save Birdland” campaign has been created to help cover the financial burdens brought on from the pandemic.
An essential part of jazz history, the club opened in 1949 on 52nd Street just west of Broadway. Count Basie and his smokin’ Big Band made Birdland their NY headquarters, John Coltrane’s classic Quartet recorded the album “Live at Birdland, ” DJ Symphony Sid Torin made a name for himself broadcasting live from the club, and within its first five years 1, 400, 000 people paid the $1.50 admission to listen to some of the greatest musicians in the world. Stars like Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner would frequent the club to hear Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and many more. But as rock and roll emerged the club found itself losing popularity and was forced to close its doors. In 1986 the club reemerged when Doris Parker, Charlie Parker’s widow, convinced restaurateur Gianni Valenti to reimagine the club for the current jazz scene. Just steps from Broadway the club has not only hosted jazz legends like Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Harry Connick, Jr, and Tito Puente but also hosted many Broadway performers as well. With Jim Caruso’s popular Monday night show “Cast Party, ” the venue has been delighting audiences with performances from the likes of Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera to comedienne Miranda Sings. When Birdland Theater, a second performance space, opened on the lower level two years ago, a more diverse array of musical styles was added to the schedule. However, with its broad roster of musicians and performers Birdland still remains “The Jazz Corner of The World.”
Save Birdland Concert: A Celebration of Music, History and Community will stream free of charge beginning at 7pm EST on Sunday, January 24th at www.SaveBirdland.com. The event will feature a selection of classic jazz, reimagined standards, stories, greetings, and Birdland memories from an ever-growing roster of talent. Donations to Save Birdland can be made now or during the event on the show’s website.