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Flushing Town Hall’s Queens Jazz Orchestra to honor radio host Phil Schaap and jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker

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(From l. to r.) Jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker Jr., radio broadcaster Phil Schaap (Photo courtesy of Jazz at Lincoln Center) and Antonio Hart (Photo by Patrick Hillaire).

Flushing Town Hall’s Queens Jazz Orchestra will return to the stage with a live performance of “Bird Flight,” paying tribute to America’s late beloved radio broadcaster Phil Schaap, and jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker Jr. at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 17.

Antonio Hart, a Grammy-nominated jazz artist and an original member of the Queens Jazz Orchestra (QJO), will make his debut as the orchestra’s new conductor, following the 2020 passing of its longtime leader, NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath.

“We are thrilled to once again welcome Flushing Town Hall’s Queens Jazz Orchestra for the first time since the onset of the pandemic,” said Executive and Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek. “Antonio Hart is an amazing musician and conductor, who was personally selected by Dr. Jimmy Heath to be his successor for QJO. We can’t wait to see him lead the full orchestra of amazingly talented artists at our beautiful venue! Jazz and Queens lovers, rejoice!”

The concert’s title pays homage to Schaap (1951-2021), a radio broadcaster, record producer, and jazz scholar, who is best known as the host of Bird Flight, a radio show on Columbia University’s WKCR devoted to Parker, which he launched in 1970 and continued for 52 years. 

Widely regarded for the breadth and detail of his jazz knowledge, Schaap received six Grammy awards for his compilations of vintage jazz recordings and was awarded America’s highest honor in jazz when he was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2021. 

Schaap, who lived in Hollis, regularly promoted and supported jazz programs at Flushing Town Hall and attended several concerts at the venue. The event will include special commentary from his colleagues. 

The QJO performance will feature the work of Parker (1920-1955), who was a composer and bandleader nicknamed “Bird” or “Yardbird.”

During his short life, Parker changed the course of jazz music. Like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, Parker was a pioneering composer and improviser who ushered in a new era of jazz and influenced subsequent generations of musicians, writers, and artists. 

The Grammy-winning musician was inducted multiple times into the Grammy Hall of Fame, an award that honors recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance that are at least 25 years old, and he was recognized with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1985. 

Parker was also inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1979 and Jazz at Lincoln Center: Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame in 2009. 

Hart, a saxophonist and director of Jazz Studios at the Queens College Aaron Copland School of Music, will make his debut as the QJO’s new conductor. 

Hart was personally selected for the role by his mentor, the late NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath who was QJO’s original music director. To honor his memory, Hart will also lead the QJO in a performance of special music composed by Master Heath. 

Queens Jazz Orchestra was co-founded in 2008 by Heath and Flushing Town Hall’s jazz producer Clyde Bullard. This 17-piece orchestra is dedicated to preserving the heritage of jazz in Queens and nurturing the next generations of great jazz musicians.

In-person tickets for the show are $45/$35 for members and$20 for students. The performance will be streamed live for free on Flushing Town Hall’s YouTube Channel. To receive the streaming link and reminder email, RSVP HERE.

 

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