Bryant Park Picnic Performances’ season of free, live performances continues on Thursday, August 12 at 7pm with the live, outdoor summer concert event CRAIG HARRIS’ NOCTURNAL NUBIAN BALL FOR CONSCIENTIOUS BALLERS AND CULTURAL SHOT CALLERS – led by world-renowned trombonist and composer Craig Harris, featuring legendary, 97-year-old Sun Ra saxophonist Marshall Allen, with Harris’ own band, Nation of Imagination.
A mashup of intricate melodies, harmonies and rhythms, Craig Harris’ Nocturnal Nubian Ball for Conscientious Ballers and Cultural Shot Callers honors the music, influence, and teachings of the late icon and visionary artist, Sun Ra, and pays tribute to Marshall Allen, an original member of the Sun Ra Arkestra who has led the Arkestra since 1993. It is the culmination of Harlem Stage’s Afrofuturism series that launched in 2019 as a citywide, multi-venue (Harlem Stage, Park Avenue Armory, Metropolitan Museum of Art) celebration of Sun Ra’s legacy.
Craig Harris, who started working with Sun Ra in 1976 (and is a former member of the band), has embraced many of Sun Ra’s concepts and performance methodologies in his own accomplished body of work. Harris’ ‘Nation of Imagination’ ensemble will feature up to 12 mesmerizing, improvising musicians, who will create what Harris describes as an “audio sanctuary for the thirsty ear” and deliver a musical tribute like no other “honoring the influence of Sun Ra and the spirit of artists everywhere who have always strived for freedom and experimentation in all aspects of life.”
In line with continually expanding city and state safety protocols, Bryant Park will be welcoming guests to these Picnic Performance events on a first-come, first-served basis; no ticket is necessary. Vaccinated and negative-tested audience members may bring their own picnic blankets or take park-provided chairs for open seating on the world-famous Bryant Park Lawn. Unvaccinated or untested attendees will be offered seating in a separate, socially-distanced section. Food and beverages are available for purchase from vendors in the park. All event attendees are also invited to bring their own food and drinks.
For anyone unable to attend in person, a free livestream broadcast of the performance will be available nationwide via Bryant Park’s website and social media platforms, thanks to the generous support of Bank of America. Additional support for on-site events is provided by Amazon.
For a selection of high-resolution images from the current and previous Bryant Park Picnic Performances seasons, please visit this link. When used, please credit the appropriate photographer as listed in the image filename.
More information about this performance, Bryant Park’s current COVID-19 safety protocols, and line listings for all Picnic Performances programming follows. For more information about Picnic Performances and to request artist interviews, specific photos of performers, or to arrange for on-site photography or press passes, please contact John Seroff at GreenHouse Publicity by replying to this email.

Performance Details

Thursday, August 12 at 7pm
Craig Harris is a world-renowned trombonist and composer. He brings 40 years of innovation, craftsmanship, and excellence to improvisational music. Most recently, Harris co-composed the soundtrack for the critically acclaimed, award-winning film Judas and the Black Messiah. When Harris exploded onto the jazz scene in 1976, he brought the entire history of the jazz trombone with him. From the growling gutbucket intensity of early New Orleans music through the refined, articulate improvisation of the modern era set forth by J.J. Johnson, and into the confrontational expressionism of the ’60s avant-garde, Harris handled the total vernacular the way a skilled orator utilizes the spoken word. He has performed with a veritable who’s who of progressive jazz’s most important figures, including Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Sam Rivers, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jaki Byard, Muhal Richard Abrams, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Lester Bowie, The WORLD Saxophone Quartet, The Roots, RAKIM, and the list goes on and on. His own projects display both a unique sense of concept and a total command of the sweeping expanse of musical expression. It’s those two qualities that have dominated Harris’ past 15 years of activity, bringing him far beyond the confines of the jazz world and into the sphere of multimedia and performance art as composer, performer, conceptualist, curator and artistic director.
Marshall Allen is an American avant-garde, free jazz musician best known for his work with Sun Ra. He has led the Sun Ra Arkestra since 1993. Allen is an alto saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, bandleader, and arranger who started clarinet lessons at age 10. At 18, he enlisted in the Army’s 92nd Infantry (renowned as the Buffalo Soldiers), playing clarinet and alto saxophone in the 17th Division Special Service Band. Stationed in Paris during World War II, he played with pianist Art Simmons and saxophonist Don Byas, and he toured and recorded with James Moody during the late 1940s. Upon honorable discharge, Allen enrolled in the Paris Conservatory of Music, studying clarinet with Delacluse. Returning to the States in 1951, he settled in Chicago, where he led his own bands, playing in clubs and dance halls while writing his own music and arrangements, as he continues to do today at 97 years old.
Nation of Imagination musical ensemble is Eddie Allen (trumpeter), Carla Cook (vocalist), Helga Davis (vocalist), Yayoi Ikawa (keyboardist), Calvin Jones (bassist), Adam Klipple (keyboardist), Tony Lewis (drummer), Sam McKelton (vocalist), and Jay Rodriguez (reed player).
i??1: Vaccinated and Tested Section
Attendees wishing to sit on the west side of the lawn must provide on-site digital or physical proof of full vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test along with a government issued photo ID.
We encourage attendees to wear masks during the check-in process. Masks are not required once vaccinated or tested attendees are seated.
Attendees are welcome to enjoy food and drink from one of our many park vendors, or bring their own, for a picnic on the lawn.
Attendees can bring a blanket or use a park chair.
2: Distanced Section
Unvaccinated or untested attendees may sit in our socially distanced section. Masks are strongly encouraged until patrons are seated and properly socially distanced (six feet from other parties at all times).
Once seated and properly socially distanced, tested attendees are welcome to enjoy food and drink.
Attendees will sit in park chairs; no outside blankets or chairs allowed.
Please do not attend if you are unwell.
3: Open Seating Section
Additional non-distanced seating is available off the Bryant Park Lawn on park grounds at attendees’ discretion.
Please do not attend if you are unwell.
As New York State and City safety guidelines for public gatherings quickly change in response to the ongoing success of NYC’s COVID-19 vaccination program, Bryant Park continues to reassess its on-site protocols for upcoming shows with the intention of safely accommodating as many attendees as possible. For the most current guidelines, program updates and additional venue information and restrictions, please visit bryantpark.org/picnics.
Current Bryant Park Picnic Performances Schedule
All Shows Open Doors at 5:30pm, Performance Starts at 7pm
First-Come, First-Served Entry
Livestreams Available on the Bryant Park Picnic Performances Website and
Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube Channels – @bryantparknyc


July 23: Carnegie Hall Citywide – The Knights
July 30: Carnegie Hall Citywide – Adrienne Warren and Friends
July 31: Greenwich House Music School – Riley Mulherkar and Ella Bric


August 06: Carnegie Hall Citywide – Terence Blanchard & The E-Collective with the Turtle Island Quartet
August 12: Harlem Stage – Craig Harris’s Nocturnal Nubian Ball…: A Tribute to Sun Ra
August 13: Jazz at Lincoln Center – Dizzy’s Club: Young Stars of Jazz
August 14: Jazz at Lincoln Center – Dizzy’s Club: Camille Thurman and the Darrell Green Quartet
August 16: Limón Dance Company and Music from the Sole *
August 20: Paul Taylor Dance Company and EMERGE125 *
August 21: New York City Opera – Now That’s What I Call Opera!
August 27: Ballet Hispánico and Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet *


September 03: New York City Opera – Rigoletto
September 10: Classical Theatre of Harlem
September 17: National Sawdust – Allison Loggins-Hull premieres Diametrically Composed
September 20: The Town Hall – Centennial Concert featuring Chris Thile and special guests
* Performances on 8/16, 8/20, and 8/27 will be available to stream exclusively on Bryant Park’s website.
News + special offers for Broadway’s Return