It’s music mixed with love and friendship.

Five NEA Jazz Masters — Slide Hampton, Barry Harris, Jimmy Cobb, Jimmy Heath, and Jimmy Owens — will jam with veteran bassist Paul West during Speaking in the Language of Jazz at Flushing Town Hall on Friday, Nov. 16, starting at 8 p.m.

In addition to holding the world’s highest honor for living jazz musicians, these legends share tremendous friendships and a love of the genre so great that they have dedicated their entire lives to performing, composing, and teaching it. And although they have known each other for decades and they have been on the same stages around the world — each artist has been in the business for more than 50 years — they have never had the pleasure of jamming together. Thus, the audience can expect many smiles and hugs along with the showcase.

For Heath (2003 NEA Jazz Master), it’s a homecoming, as he has led Flushing Town Hall’s Queens Jazz Orchestra since 2008. He was also a music professor at Queens College’s Aaron Copland School of Music for more than a decade. As a saxophonist, he has performed on more than 100 albums and with such legends as Wynton Marsalis and Dizzy Gillespie, but he’s also a composer and arranger.

Here is some information on the other virtuosos. (Heath is the bottom left of the above photo. The others are listed below in the order that they appear clockwise from Heath in the photo.)

  • Hampton (2005 NEA Jazz Master, also below) is a trombonist, composer, and arranger who won a 1998 Grammy for Best Jazz Arrangement with a Vocalist for a recording with Dee Dee Bridgewater. This will be his first ever gig at Flushing Town Hall.
  • Harris (1989 NEA Jazz Master) is a pianist who had tremendous success during the Bebop Era.
  • Owens (2012 NEA Jazz Master) is a trumpeter who still leads his own group, Jimmy Owens Plus.
  • West is a stand-up bassist who has performed and recorded with everyone from Ray Charles to Dinah Washington.
  • Cobb (2009 NEA Jazz Master) played drums in one of the biggest songs ever, Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue,” in 1959. He has also worked with John Coltrane and Billie Holiday.

Tickets are $42, but students pay only $20. Once again, teenagers can attend for free as part of the ongoing “Teen Access Program.” Flushing Town Hall is at 137-35 Northern Blvd., about six blocks from the 7 train’s Main Street station. There is street parking.

Image: Flushing Town Hall


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