About a year ago, I began working with Marty Khan, a super cool and super wise man with 30-plus years’ experience in the jazz business as well as the author of the best jazz business book ever written, Straight Ahead. Marty’s ideas are simple yet powerful; they are so simple, in fact, that many don’t get what he’s trying to do, which is to create sustainability in the life of a jazz artist through logical steps, one of which is the concept of Collective Action.
For me, Collective Action comes in the form of the Queens Jazz OverGround. Together with trumpeter Josh Deutsch, bassist Mark Wade, and drummer Brian Woodruff, the four of us meet regularly to pursue our mission of bringing more jazz to the borough of Queens – or, as I like to say, bringing jazz home to Queens. For Queens used to be – and continues to be – home to more jazz musicians than you would think. From Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong to Jimmy Heath and James Spaulding (the latter two still residents of the borough), Queens is a jazz home.
There’s this long hallway that connects the AirTrain to JFK to the Long Island Railroad and ends at the Sutphin Blvd Subway Station. In this hallway, you will see numerous banners listing all of the jazz legends who lived in Queens at one time or another (or still do). There’s also a sign that says “Queens: Home to Jazz Legends” and also lists their names on the wall. (You can see a photo HERE.)
It is because of this Collective Action that we have some exciting news: less than one year into the start of the Queens Jazz OverGround, we are thrilled to be presenting an all-day jazz festival at Flushing Town Hall. There will be collage workshops for the kids; middle and high school jazz bands performing all day; improvisation workshops and rhythm section workshops; and concerts starting at 5 p.m. with the York College Jazz Orchestra and continuing with bandleaders from Queens.
The highlight of the evening will be the performance of Queens resident and Jazz Legend James Spaulding, a saxophonist and flutist who you’ve heard on recordings by Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, among others. We are beyond excited that he will be playing at our first ever jazz festival.
I never could have done this by myself. Many thanks to Josh, Mark, and Brian, as well as to J.Walter Hawkes (our IT guy/resident trombonist) and Teri Wade (our fearless logistics leader). This is Collective Action at its finest. And we are having a blast; and are able to share this music that we love with you.
I do hope we see you there on April 27.