Next month, head to Flushing to get a taste of jazz music that isn’t in a Manhattan nightclub.
Flushing Town Hall is presenting its first-ever Jazz Jam All-Stars concert, featuring 10 musicians and vocalists hailing from Queens and Long Island. On Aug. 4, concert participants will perform the music of Louis Armstrong followed by a group jam session.
Following the concert, participants will pose for a portrait on the steps of Flushing Town Hall, echoing Art Kane’s photograph “A Great Day in Harlem.” Proceeds from the event will go toward keeping the institution’s monthly Jazz Jams free to musicians.
On the first Wednesday evening every month, hundreds of musicians, including the 10 featured in the concert, participate in Flushing Town Hall’s Monthly Jazz Jam: Celebrating the Legacy of Louis Armstrong.
“I’m so thrilled for all of the All-Stars,” said Gabrielle M. Hamilton, Flushing Town Hall’s director of education and public programs. “When Flushing Town Hall first launched our monthly Jazz Jams eight years ago, a small group of amateur and professional musicians and fans gathered. Over time these wonderful artists have developed their artistic skills and formed professional alliances, even as our artists and audience members have grown and bonded. Now our jams feature amazing performances from all of our artists and a strong sense of community and fellowship. The All-Stars concert is a fundraiser in celebration of their talent and our Flushing Town Hall Jazz Jam ‘family’ and I invite all music lovers – from Queens and beyond – to join us in this communal musical spectacular!”
The following is a list of participating musicians in next month’s concert:
- Sharif Kales (trumpet) of Flushing
- Sarah Turkiew (baritone saxophone) of Bethpage, Long Island
- Keith Jordan (guitar) of Hollis Hills
- Iga Flyree Mrozek (vocals) of Jackson Heights
- Frank Robinson (vocals) of Jamaica
- Gary Davis (vocals) of East Elmhurst
- Jose Luis Armengot (trumpet) of Rego Park
- Victor Acosta (alto saxophone) of Kew Gardens
- Glen Lowe (drums) of Corona
- Mamoru Tashiro (guitar) of Astoria
Jazz saxophonist and event emcee Carol Sudhalter runs the monthly jams and was also involved in the committee that chose the featured concert performers. Sudhalter, who has lived in Astoria since 1978, has pioneered several jazz series in Queens.
She also teaches jazz improvisation, flute, sax, clarinet and piano, and masterclasses in jazz and in “English Diction for Singers” throughout the United States and in Italy.
“This concert is a landmark event in the history of jazz in Queens. No one should miss this presentation of some of our most promising artists,” said Sudhalter.
She added that the concert is a culmination of the growth many of the musicians have experienced throughout the year during the monthly jam sessions. Since she became involved in 2016, she said that both musician and audience attendance for the sessions has doubled.
Sudhalter attributes the growth to “word of mouth, good promotion and a user-friendly atmosphere.” She shared that other jam sessions are more competitive and musicians, especially beginners, are more comfortable at the Town Hall jam sessions.
Veteran musician Sharif Kales, who has played the trumpet for 25 years, attests to the warm atmosphere.
“It’s just good vibes, everyone is just trying to play and learn from each other,” Kales said. “It’s definitely welcoming and [beginner] students definitely feel more welcomed.”
During the concert, Kales plans to play an original piece as well as popular jazz standard called “Never Let Me Go.”
The Jazz Jam All-Stars event is on Sunday, Aug. 4, starting with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by the concert at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $15 for members and free to teens ages 13 to 19. Purchase tickets at flushingtownhall.org or by calling 718-463-7700 ext. 222.