Giant Step Arts WALK WITH THE WIND Concert Series Continues In Central Park

Emilee Geist

Finding new ways to support musicians during the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, Jimmy and Dena Katz, creators of Giant Step Arts, the groundbreaking, artist-focused non-profit dedicated to supporting visionary jazz musicians as they create adventurous new music, realized that it would be a while before they could continue their […]

Finding new ways to support musicians during the pandemic.

Giant Step Arts WALK WITH THE WIND Concert Series Continues In Central ParkWhen the pandemic hit, Jimmy and Dena Katz, creators of Giant Step Arts, the groundbreaking, artist-focused non-profit dedicated to supporting visionary jazz musicians as they create adventurous new music, realized that it would be a while before they could continue their work commissioning, showcasing and recording music by some of modern jazz’s most innovative artists.

They’ve created Walk with the Wind, a series of free performances in Central Park honoring the memory of John Lewis. Performances, which are acoustic and feature small groups, take place at 1 p.m. on The Mall in Central Park. In the event of bad weather, they will be rescheduled. They will continue as long as the weather allows. Upcoming performances include:

• Saturday, September 26 – Drummer Nasheet Waits with saxophonist Mark Turner and bassist Rashaan Carter

• Sunday, September 27 – Saxophonist and Blue Note recording artist Immanuel Wilkins with drummer Nazir Ebo and bassist Burniss Earl Travis• Saturday, October 3 – Saxophonist Melissa Aldena with bassist Pablo Menares, drummer TBA• Sunday, October 4 – Saxophonist Darius Jones with drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Dezron Douglas”The pandemic has been disastrous for musicians, many of whom normally earn a living through live performances and tours,” says Katz. “We’ve presented and recorded music in various venues, including partnering with the non-profit Jazz Gallery, but the current circumstances have forced us to improvise. We wanted to find a way to continue supporting musicians, bring them together with audiences, safely, and enable them to have a payday! Walk with the Wind, honoring the legacy of the great American John Lewis, is one way we are accomplishing this, and the response has been tremendous. Our goal is to raise enough money from foundations and donors so that we can have performances each spring and fall.”The series began August 28 with Wayne Escoffery’s trio and has also featured The Marquis Hill Quartet, the Michael Thomas Trio, Marcus Strickland Trio, the Eric McPherson Trio, the Leap Day Trio and the Joel Ross Quartet.

Giant Step Arts

Founded by renowned photographers Jimmy and Dena Katz in January 2018, Giant Step Arts is an innovative, artist-focused non-profit organization dedicated to commissioning and showcasing the work of some of modern jazz’s most innovative artists. In an era where it is increasingly difficult for musicians to earn a living, Giant Step Arts offers the artistic and financial resources to create bold, adventurous new music free of commercial pressure. Musicians have total control of their artistic projects and Giant Step Arts is committed to fostering their careers by providing promotional material and publicity services.For the musicians it chooses to work with, by invitation only, Giant Step Arts:• presents premiere performances and compensates the artists well
• records these performances for independent release
• provides the artists with 700 CDs and digital downloads to sell directly; artists retain complete ownership of their masters
• provides the artists with photos and videos for promotional use
• provides PR support for the recordings“Giant Step Arts does not sell any music,” Katz says. “Our goals are to help musicians make bold artistic statements and to advance their careers. We are also trying to increase our funding so we can help more musicians.”Jimmy KatzThrough his award-winning photography with wife Dena Katz, and his esteemed work as a recording engineer, Katz has spent nearly 30 years helping to shape the way that audiences see and hear jazz musicians. Katz has photographed more than 550 recording sessions, many historic, and 200 magazine covers. Whether taken in the studio, in the clubs, on the streets or in the musicians’ homes, his photographs offer intimate portraits of the artists at work and in repose and capture the collaborative and improvisatory process of jazz itself. Recipient of the Jazz Journalists Association award for jazz photography in both 2006 and 2011, Katz’s work has been exhibited in Germany, Italy and Japan. Among the world-renowned artists he’s photographed are Sonny Rollins, Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Haynes, Cassandra Wilson, Ray Charles, Dave Brubeck, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, John Zorn, Pat Metheny, and Dizzy Gillespie. In addition to his well-known visual art, Katz is an esteemed recording engineer who has worked with artists including David S. Ware, Joe Lovano, Harold Mabern, William Parker, Benny Golson, and Chris Potter, among others.

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