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Cool Blues is really cool: at the New Federal Theatre

Cool Blues_flyerCOOL BLUES a New Federal Theatre production, is playing at the Henry Street Settlement Underground Theatre through April 3rd.

I'm not sure I understood it all, and I'm not really a big Jazz History buff, but this play is definitely worth seeing. The story itself is about a Jazz Saxophone player called B -- who was actual name was Charlie Parker (Marcus Naylor), and his extraordinary talent.

Set in the 1950's, the action primarily takes place in the apartment of his wealthy white friend Baroness Alexandra Isabella von Templeton, known as Xan (Terria Joseph). Their friendship is unconventional for the time and the differences in social position is touched on. Some of the messages were typical addressing the idea that Blacks are not afforded the same opportunities as whites and therefore should illicit some sympathy - which I find to be a tired story. But that was only addressed as necessary for this story that took place in a very different social and political time than the present.

The play focused on a man who'd had success in his art. B takes the audience on his journey as he reviews his life (through memory sequences and visions) as he comes near death; evaluating what he had accomplished and what he'd lost along the way and even dreaming of what could be.

The memory sequences worked well. I very much enjoyed those that incorporated his friend Bud Powell, Jazz Master Pianist (Played by the talented Jay Ward - Pictured below). 









Mr. Ward's performance of Bud Powell from a vibrant talented young player, to the man he became later in life when he suffered from schizophrenia is moving and heartbreaking.

If you love Jazz, are interested in that era, and the lives of these Jazz Greats, COOL BLUES is a play to see.





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