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Flushing Town Hall to celebrate second annual Jazz Jam All-Stars concert honoring 10 musicians

Flushing Town Hall second annual Jazz Jam
The All-Stars were chosen based on their high-caliber musicianship, their spirit of cooperation, and regular participation in the Louis Armstrong Legacy Monthly Jazz Jams. (Photo courtesy of Flushing Town Hall)

Flushing Town Hall will host its second annual Jazz Jam All-Stars Concert honoring 10 musicians, including two Queens artists, on Saturday, July 16, at 7:30 p.m. 

This celebratory event honors the musicians and audiences who regularly attended Flushing Town Hall’s in-person and virtual Jazz Jams, as well as its dedicated house band led by Carol Sudhalter, featuring Joe Vincent Tranchina, Scott Neumann and Eric Lemon.

The wildly popular Louis Armstrong Legacy Monthly Jazz Jam, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in October 2021, began its journey 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. 

The monthly jam later transformed, opening up to amateur and professional musicians and public audiences under the lead of Queens Jazz OverGround, a collective of Queens-based jazz musicians. In 2016, longtime big band leader Carol Sudhalter, who is well-versed in the Armstrong repertoire, took over the monthly jam as leader of Flushing Town Hall’s house band. 

Under Sudhalter’s creative guidance, the monthly program has been paying homage to the great Louis Armstrong every month since — including the 17 months when Flushing Town Hall held virtual jams during the pandemic, attracting more than 7,000 viewers and 200 musicians Zooming in from over a dozen countries worldwide, including New Zealand, Italy and South Africa.

In 2019, Flushing Town Hall hosted its first-ever Jazz Jam All-Stars concert, and now, after a three-year hiatus, the Jazz Jam All-Stars concert will return to celebrate its community of musicians and music lovers. 

Flushing Town Hall’s committee has selected a stellar lineup of 10 musicians to perform at the concert — including one as young as 15 years old — who were chosen for their high-caliber musicianship, cooperative spirit and dedicated participation in the Louis Armstrong Legacy Monthly Jazz Jams. 

“When we held our first Jazz Jam All-Stars concert in 2019, we were excited to make this an annual celebration of our wonderful and faithful jammers who show up month after month and really keep this alive!” Sudhalter said. “We are so thrilled to finally be able to host our second annual All-Stars concert, especially after such a long break due to COVID. The musicians joining us on July 16 are all incredibly talented, dedicated, and part of our wonderful community. I am honored to share the stage with them to celebrate Louis Armstrong’s legacy.”

Among the list of performers are two Queens musicians, Mimi Block, 20, and Ezra Kessler, 15. 

Block is a violinist, jazz vocalist and composer who is diagnosed with autism and a severe developmental delay at the age of 2, using the violin as a therapeutic tool. In March of 2022, Block received the Barry Harris Performance Achievement Award in NYC. 

Kessler attends LaGuardia High School and has been participating in the jam for four years already. He was a finalist at Battle of the Bands at Colden Auditorium and has collaborated virtually with professional musicians like Jeff Coffin who toured with the Dave Matthews Band.

“I am honored to be included in this incredible lineup of stellar jazz musicians led by Carol and her house band. I started coming to the jazz jam when I was about 12 years old and still pretty new to jazz,” Kessler said. “Flushing Town Hall made jazz accessible and fun in a non-competitive environment. I couldn’t wait to come back next month with a new song and do it again. Now, four years later I am still learning from this incredible house band.” 

Gabrielle Hamilton, director of education and public programs, said she is delighted to see so many young musicians join them for the monthly Jazz Jams. 

“Our youngest All-Star began participating in our jam when he was just 12 years old, and his musical talents have grown over the last years with the support of the community of musicians and aficionados that make up our monthly Jazz Jams,” Hamilton said. “All of this would not be possible without the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, and we are 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.”

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m., opening with a Louis Armstrong tune played by the jazz house band led by Sudhalter. After that, each All-Star will perform two tunes with the band. The evening will close with a finale with everyone on stage to perform another Armstrong tune.

In contrast to the regular Louis Armstrong Legacy Monthly Jazz Jam, participation in the Jazz Jam All-Stars concert is by invitation only.

Audiences are invited to listen to the honorary jammers in person or virtually. The cost for a general in-person audience is $25, $20 for members and $15 for students. Those unable to attend the All-Stars concert in person can still join the livestream and tune in for free on YouTube or Facebook.

The evening, featuring music by Louis Armstrong, is made possible through the generous support of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation Inc.

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