By AMANDA ANDRIES
Although spring seems to be in no hurry to fully emerge, maybe the sweet sounds of jazz could help to usher the season in.
The twitter of birds outside were drowned out by the groovy tones of a guitar, upright bass and vibrant trumpet filling the walls of the Flushing Town Hall on Tuesday morning, as three members of the Queens Jazz OverGround (QJOG) played at the press conference to announce the First Annual Spring Jazz Festival, which will take place Saturday at the historic Queens facility.
QJOG joins forces with the Hall to present a daylong, free event for all ages, which will feature music and art focused on the American musical genre. The extravaganza, which the organizers hope will put a spotlight on jazz music in the borough, was slated to kick off at noon with a “Children’s Jazz Collage Workshop.”
“Some great jazz legends hailed from Queens such as Louis Armstrong and we have a wonderful exhibition in our hallways here at Flushing Town Hall of Armstrong’s collages,” said Ellen Kodadek, Executive and Artistic Director of the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts. “Many people don’t realize that in between sets Louis was a major collage artist. He would collage newsprints and photos and make wonderful pieces of art. nike zoom hyperrev So this is one of the things we will be doing at the Jazz Festival.
The OverGround is a non-profit jazz collective founded by four Queens-based musicians —Josh Deutsch on trumpet, Grammy–nominated guitarist and composer Amanda Monaco, bassist Mark Wade and drummer Brian Woodruff— who also have their own bands. The aim of the OverGround is to support the growth of professional jazz artists in Queens and to also provide educational opportunities for youth in local communities.
“We all live in Queens and we were excited about all the musicians that live here and wanted to make it more of a destination for live music and jazz in particular,” said Deutsch. “Flushing Town Hall is one the great venues in Queens so we are really excited to partner with them.”
Attendees to this event, which the organizers hope will become an annual occurrence, also can participate in a series of workshops, clinics and master classes led by QJOG’s co-founders. One such class is “Connecting the Ear and Brain” in which students learn how to improvise; or later little ones can take a creative writing workshop focused on standards and ballads.
There will also be a slew of performances, which will flow into the night such as the 8 p.m. alto sax and flute jam session with featured artist, James Spaulding and the QJOG trio. The presentations will culminate with the musical stylings of the Brian Woodruff Sextet.
Flushing Town Hall is located at 137-35 Northern Blvd. and is surrounded by many wonderful Asian restaurants and a bustling shopping area. The Queens Council on the Arts sponsors the festival with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and M&T bank.