The Queens Jazz Orchestra Ensemble will take the stage at Flushing Town Hall at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 18, for a live tribute to the late NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath, continuing to present outstanding jazz at its historic venue.
For the first time, Flushing Town Hall is welcoming a small audience back into its theater since the facility closed to the public in March 2020 amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The venue will observe COVID safety measures that include mask requirements and social distancing. The concert will be simultaneously livestreamed for a virtual audience at home.
When Heath died in January 2020 at the age of 93, he passed the baton to his protégé Antonio Hart.
“Due to COVID, the Queens Jazz Orchestra has not been able to perform together, but I am delighted to bring a smaller unit of members of the ensemble to Flushing Town Hall to celebrate Master Heath,” Hart said.
On June 18, the special concert led by Hart will present the core rhythm section of the larger Queens Jazz Orchestra, who are writing and performing their own arrangements of songs composed by Heath.
“We are excited to host Antonio Hart and select members of the Queens Jazz Orchestra at our beautiful venue,” said Ellen Kodadek, executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall. “While we cannot bring our full Queens Jazz Orchestra to Flushing Town Hall at this time due to COVID restrictions, we are thrilled that this sextet of incredibly skilled and passionate musicians will again grace our stage and wow our audiences with live jazz!”
The Queens Jazz Orchestra Ensemble performing at Flushing Town Hall is comprised of six musicians who all had a personal connection to Heath and are celebrating his legacy: Antonio Hart (leader and saxophone); Freddie Hendrix (trumpet); Steve Davis (trombone); Jeb Patton (piano); David Wong (acoustic bass); and Vince Ector (drums).
“The Queens Jazz Orchestra Ensemble contains some cutting edge musicians! Each ensemble member is a band leader themselves, with the additional, explosive dynamite of Antonio Hart mixing it all together,” said Clyde Bullard, a jazz producer in residence at Flushing Town Hall. “What you will be hearing is the Big Bang Theory incarnate!”
Bullard will moderate a live Q&A following the performance between the musicians and the virtual audience.
Born on Oct. 25, 1926, in Philadelphia, Heath was the second of the illustrious Heath Brothers to receive an NEA Jazz Master Fellowship and was the first Heath to choose music as a career path. During his storied career, Heath (who lived in Queens for many years) has performed on more than 100 record albums, including seven with The Heath Brothers and 12 as a leader.
Heath has also written more than 125 compositions, many of which have become jazz standards. Heath had etched a longstanding relationship with Flushing Town Hall, and a dozen years ago they together launched the 17-piece big band Queens Jazz Orchestra, a project of Flushing Town Hall, which had since performed for thousands of jazz lovers under his direction.
In June 2020, Flushing Town Hall hosted its first virtual tribute to the late master. Among those participating were Heath’s wife, Mona; jazz legends Albert “Tootie” Heath, Barry Harris, Jimmy Owens and Dorthaan Kirk; and members of Queens Jazz Orchestra, including Hart, Wong Patton and Douglas Purviance.
In honor of Flushing Town Hall’s 42nd anniversary, 42 in-person tickets are available ($15/$12 members), and unlimited virtual tickets ($10/$7 members) for audiences at home.
All tickets can be purchased online at flushingtownhall.org. Details about the logistics and safety requirements, including mask wearing and social distancing to attend the event in person are posted on the website.