This October, Flushing Town Hall is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its popular Louis Armstrong Legacy Monthly Jazz Jam with members of Queens Jazz OverGround, a collective of Queens-based musicians.
As the venue continues to its reopening to artists and the public, the jam will be held in person at the historic building, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd., on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m.
The monthly jam began its journey of great jazz in October 2011 as an educational program in collaboration with the Aaron Copeland School of Music at Queens College in order to provide a platform for young jazz musicians to play music together.
About three years later, the monthly jam transformed into a program for amateur and professional musicians and public audiences under the lead of Queens Jazz OverGround.
Flushing Town Hall’s Director of Education & Public Programs Gabrielle Hamilton said that shortly after joining Flushing Town Hall, they were able to launch the venue’s first Jazz Jam and Clinic in October 2011.
Their partnership with Queens College provided graduate music students with an opportunity to jam together locally and educate young musicians in jazz, Hamilton said. A few years later, the jam expanded to reach more musicians under the leadership of Brian Woodruff and Queens Jazz OverGround.
“I am excited that he and some of the QJOG original members will be joining us on stage with Carol Suhalter, Joe Vincent Tranchina, Eric Lemmon and Scott Neuman — our current house band — to acknowledge 10 years of great jazz right here in Flushing,” Hamilton said. “All of this would not have been possible without the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. We are forever thankful for their unwavering support of the jam and for allowing us to pay tribute to the great jazz virtuoso who once called Queens his home.”
Woodruff, who once led the monthly jazz jam at Flushing Town Hall, said they had no idea how influential and established the monthly event would become over the years.
“Many thanks to Flushing Town Hall for inviting our current and original members back to participate in this celebration with Carol Sudhalter, the great house band and other talented musicians,” Woodruff said.
In 2016, as Queens Jazz OverGround moved on to other projects, Sudhalter, who is well-versed in the Armstrong repertoire, stepped in. Under Sudhalter’s creative guidance, the monthly program has been paying homage to the great Louis Armstrong every month since — including the months when Flushing Town Hall’s doors remained closed for pandemic precautions.
During the pandemic, the monthly event moved online in March 2020, and within 17 months of only virtual jams, more than 200 musicians from over a dozen countries as far as New Zealand, Italy and South Africa, have participated in the virtual Louis Armstrong Legacy Monthly Jazz Jams.
Over 7,000 viewers from across the globe have enjoyed the music and tuned in to the monthly jams to listen as the venue moved all its programming online.
In September, the monthly Jazz Jams returned to its pre-pandemic version for the first time live from Flushing Town Hall, with participating musicians and an audience of jazz lovers attending in person.
Audiences and musicians are invited to join the anniversary jam in person or virtually on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. The cost for the general audience is $10, and the jam is free for members, students, teens and jamming musicians. Participating jazz jammers do not need to pre-register and can simply sign in upon arrival.
Following the opening by the current house jazz band, Queens Jazz OverGround will play Dinah by Harry Akst, and Joe Young, as featured in the famous Copenhagen film of Louis Armstrong’s band from 1933.
The band will feature Josh Deutsch, trumpet (founding member, Queens Jazz OverGround); Hashem Assadullahi, alto saxophone (current member, Queens Jazz OverGround); Amanda Monaco, guitar (founding member, Queens Jazz OverGround); Eugenia Choe, piano (current member, Queens Jazz OverGround); Richard Mikel, bass; and Brian Woodruff, drums (founding and current member, Queens Jazz OverGround).
Those unable to attend the anniversary jam in person can still join the livestream and tune in for free via Flushing Town Hall’s Facebook page.