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April 04, 2013

Native Sounds Downtown! Saxophonist Sharel Cassity presents bebop and more, Thursday, April 11, at the museum in New York


Sharelcassity photo by Michelle Watt

Sharel Cassity. Photo by Michelle Watt, used with permission.

Saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Sharel Cassity will grace the stage of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York next Thursday, April 11, at 6 p.m.  Her phenomenal band will include Greg Gisbert (trumpet), Cyrus Chestnut (piano), Dezron Douglas (bass), and E. J. Strickland (drums). The concert is free and open to the public; invite friends to attend via the museum's Sharel Cassity event page on Facebook.

In 2010, Sharel and the Tony Lujan Septet performed an extraordinary, standing-room-only concert at the museum in Washington, D.C., in tribute to trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and bassist Oscar Pettiford. Dizzy and OP performed together in 1943 and 1944 at New York’s Onyx Club on 52nd Street, and their fertile collaboration was characterized by Dizzy himself as “the birth of the bebop era.” In bebop, complex, asymmetric melodic lines performed on several instruments bracket improvisational, fast-tempo solos that highlight the superb musicianship of each player. Intentionally pursuing the difficult, beboppers freed the music from the page, inverting chord progressions, altering rhythm and scales, experimenting with changes in structure in a poetic display of musical fluency. 

Cassity and band

Sharel Cassity (saxophone), Edsel Gomez (piano), Conrad Herwig (trombone), Tony Lujan (trumpet), and Yunior Terry (bass) performing at the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall. 2010, Washington, D.C. Photo by R.A.Whiteside, NMAI.

Today’s jazz musicians continue to make history and push the music forward. Sharel Cassity is particularly known for her breathtaking improvisations, and ability to hold her own with the greats. She has performed with saxophonist Jimmy Heath and trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and recently toured Europe with the Dizzy Gillespie Afro Cuban Experience.  Sharel has released two albums to critical acclaim, Just for You and Relentless

Like Oscar Pettiford, Sharel Cassity grew up in Oklahoma, with a musical father of Cherokee heritage. Both Pettiford and Cassity are inductees in the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. Up Where We Belong: Native Americans in Popular Music, a current exhibition at the museum in New York, reveals the broad spectrum of Native musicians who have played transformative roles in many American musical genres. Pettiford is featured in the jazz section of the exhibition; Cassity is writing the next chapter in this moment we are so privileged to share with her. 

The concert on April 11 will give the museum's New York audience the opportunity to experience this exciting music firsthand through Pettiford standards, as well as to enjoy new music and new collaborations.

—Margaret Sagan

Margaret Sagan is Visitor Services manager at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York.

Native Sounds Downtown! with Rob Lamothe, Ryan Johnson, Ronnie Johnson, Zander Lamothe, and Rose Lamothe
Thursday, April 11, at 6 p.m.
National Museum of the American Indian in New York

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Very Nice Thanks

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