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5 Things To Do This Weekend

 Soh Daiko performs a Japanese lion dance at Sakura Matsuri.
Soh Daiko performs a Japanese lion dance at Sakura Matsuri.
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Photo by Mike Ratliff. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Friday, April 24

Start your weekend off on a high note with jazz master saxophonist Bill Saxton in the cozy parlor of a real Harlem speakeasy owned by Bill himself. The spot, now known as Bill's Place, first opened its doors during Prohibition and hosted the likes of Fats Waller and Billie Holliday. Bill and his Harlem All Stars keep the music going every Friday and Saturday night. You couldn’t find a more appropriate spot to enjoy Jazz Appreciation Month. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. at Bill’s Place located at 148 West 133rd St. (between Lenox and 7th avenues), Harlem. Admission is by donation (suggested: $20). Reservations are required; call 212-281-0777. 

Saturday, April 25

The cherry blossoms are blooming at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, setting the scene for the Garden’s annual Sakura Matsuri festival. A two-day Japanese cultural extravaganza, Sakura Matsuri features samurai sword fighting, tea ceremonies, J-Pop, a cosplay (costume play) fashion show, kids’ workshops and many other events rooted in both classical and contemporary Japanese culture. This event is held rain or shine. Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 150 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn. Admission to the festival is free for members and children under twelve. General admission to the festival is $25.

If you’re into Harlem jazz, you might also enjoy choro, a popular instrumental music form from Brazil, which is characterized by improvisation, string harmonies, and a cheery rhythm. Five-man ensemble Regional de NY specializes in the genre, and they’re returning to intimate Park Slope bar/music venue Barbes at 8pm. 376 9th Street (at the corner of 6th Avenue), Brooklyn. There is a suggested donation of $10.

Sunday, April 26

New York of the 30s and 40s is incarnate in Dandy Wellington and his Band, a debonair Big Band ensemble that breathes life into old jazz standards. See them in all their sartorial splendor at the Astor Room, a supper club set in the old commissary of the Kaufman Astoria Studios. Brunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; the band will play from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. 34-12 36th Street (near the corner of 35th Avenue), Astoria, Queens.

The weekend might be coming to a close, but don’t shed no tears: check out 2011 musical documentary “Bob Marley: The Making of a Legend” at Museum of the Moving Image also in Astoria. Chronicling the rise of Bob Marley and the Wailers, the documentary features previously-unseen archival footage, including a segment documenting the band's very first practice session. Director Esther Anderson will be present for a discussion following the film, which screens at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and are free with the price of admission, which is $12 adults and $9 seniors and students.