As the new year begins, Flushing Town Hall is continuing its popular Virtual Jazz Jam: Celebrating the Legacy of Louis Armstrong, part of Flushing Town Hall’s dynamic online entertainment, FTH at Home!
On Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m., jazz musicians from New York City and across the world will play tunes reflecting the pursuit of racial justice in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.
With its doors closed to in-person performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Flushing Town Hall has been providing robust virtual programming, including the monthly Jazz Jams that attract artists from across the globe. Jazz musicians come together to play their tunes reflecting each month’s theme.
In 2021, the cultural nonprofit will continue to provide that opportunity as long as the doors remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“These unprecedented times call for community and creativity,” said Gabrielle Hamilton, director of education and public programs at Flushing Town Hall. “Amid the pandemic, arts education organizations such as Flushing Town Hall have adapted to continue to serve those who have relied on us to connect artistically, socially and emotionally. Flushing Town Hall believes in the power of the arts and culture to process this traumatic moment, restore joy and build resiliency. The Jazz Jams illustrate how music connects us all, and provide a community platform for people to artistically express themselves.”
The January Jazz Jam is particularly meaningful because of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s deep appreciation of music as an “instrument of change.” As The International Musician once noted, he considered jazz to be “triumphant music” and had once written that “Jazz speaks for life. The blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.”
Since April 2020, the Jazz Jam has become a haven for jazz lovers from around the world — with participants reaching from New York to Guyana, to Germany and Italy, and to New Zealand and Australia where musicians get up in the early morning hours to join the jam. Since going online, the jams reached more than 7,000 views, and exceeded 1,600 engagements online — numbers that surpassed the participation and capacity of the venue during previous in-person sessions.
Flushing Town Hall’s monthly Jazz Jam is supported by the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, and has been led by Astoria resident Carol Sudhalter since its founding. House band members include illustrious musicians such as Joe Vincent Tranchina, Scott Neumann and Eric Lemon, who pay tribute to the great Louis Armstrong, performing songs associated with the legendary trumpeter/vocalist every month.
Musicians interested in participating on Jan. 13, should email firstname.lastname@example.org with their suggested three- to four-minute tune they intend to play. The performance can be live or a pre-recorded audio or video (but not a professional, edited recording such as a CD or YouTube video). Musicians who previously performed are now welcome to return. Each month, up to five returning musicians and up to 15 new musicians can participate. Selection is on a first-come, first-served basis.