UPPER MANHATTAN — Move over, Birdland.
Uptowners can now enjoy live jazz without trekking Downtown thanks to the neighborhood’s first annual Women in Latin Jazz Festival, organized by Inwood resident and professional percussionist Annette Aguilar.
The festival, which started with a small kick-off party at El Corcho Wine Room on Nov. 6, will have three more events featuring professional jazz musicians from around the city.
Aguilar, who moved to Inwood in 1990, has long looked for ways to bring more opportunities for live music to the neighborhood.
“For people who live in Inwood, it’s hard to get home from Downtown late at night after a show. It’s always a schlep,” she said. “This was about making jazz available to people here — good jazz.”
Aguilar said that although the neighborhood has always drawn musicians as residents, the lack of venues kept many people from performing there. She has now found willing partners in local restaurants such as Corcho Wine Room, Inwood Local, Garden Café and Apt. 78.
At the same time, Aguilar said there are few opportunities for female jazz musicians to perform, so she decided to take a small step towards filling that gap.
“When you’re an artist, you have to create stuff all of the time,” she said. “If you want to get something done, you have to do it yourself. You can’t sit around and wait for someone to invite you to play.”
Aguilar, who regularly performs at local venues with her band Annette Aguilar and the StringBeans, will play in all three shows and will welcome special guests at each.
This Saturday, the show at Garden Cafe will feature pianist Amy Millan, who has been playing Latin jazz for almost 25 years.
The final show will take place on Dec. 1 at the Cornerstone Center at 178 Bennett Ave., from 7 to 9 p.m. It will honor Karen Joseph, a flutist who has played with jazz greats including Eddie Palmieri.
This week’s shows are free, while the Dec. 1 event will cost $10 at the door. The price includes light refreshments and beverages from Dyckman Beer Company and RD Wine and Spirits. The money also goes towards the costs of the festival, including paying the musicians.
Aguilar has covered the expenses out of her own budget, but is open to receiving monetary donations or other forms of help from those who want to support jazz in the community.