Sunday, July 26, 2015

Medgar Evers Jazz Ensemble at the Dr Mary Umolu Jazzy Jazz Festival/ Brooklyn, NY


In 1996, Dr Mary Umolu founded the Jazzy Jazz Festival which is a jazz festival celebrated for eight weeks in July and August. It is one of the many free and open to the public summer outdoor concert series happening in Brooklyn, New York.
In particular, the Jazzy Jazz Festival is presented at Medgar Evers college located at 1638 Bedford Avenue and the Corner of Crown Street. It takes place every Friday in July and August from 7PM to 10PM, rain or shine.

 
 
Jazzy Jazz Festival: July 24th, 2015
This year is no different. The 2015 Jazzy Jazz season has commenced and in its third week which was July 24, 2015, the festival featured sounds of the Medgar Evers Jazz Ensemble lead by Professor Roman G Mitchell, professor of music at Medgar Evers College. The MEC Jazz Ensemble has been in operation for the past 11 years.  It first began as an instrumental group, until it opened its doors to dynamic vocalists.

Crowds swarmed to the nicely organized seating area for the festival’s 7PM start when Professor Moses Bernard Phillips, also professor of music at Medgar Evers College, welcomed those present and opened up the concert with an idea. He said, “jazz is African sensibility in European form displaying improvisation, a unique individuality and the recognition of that individuality as the improviser of note.”

What is Jazz?

A person like myself, vocalist, songwriter, composer and host of the Jazz on the JNote series on 91.5FM via Medgar Evers College Radio and jazz researcher can be left lingering on Phillips last word; note.  The question that nobody seems to be able to answer with a consistent conclusion is, what is jazz? Researchers have even compiled notes and interviews into books such as, “What is This Thing Called Jazz” by Batt Johnson , trying to come up with the answer. 
The music was wonderful. The musicians; energetic. The singing; powerful. And what a beautiful night to celebrate the cultural movement of jazz. The crowd participated, was lively and it made the night run even smoother. Sound was provided by wmecradio and was streamed live on wmecradio.com.
Lead by Mitchell was a beautiful group of singers and musicians, gathered to continue the legacy of jazz and share in the expression and beauty of the culture. Members include
 
 
David Francois . . . Manager
Stephanie Jeannot . . . Vocalist/ Mezzo
Professor Carolyn Jones . . . Vocalist/ Alto
Nathaniel Manning . . . Drummer
Professor Roman Mitchell . . . Ensemble Leader/ Pianist
Felice Patton . . . Vocalist/ Soprano
Jaymes Simmons . . . Vocalist/ Tenor
Ashanta Woodley . . . Vocalist/ Soprano
Carmen Zinsou . . . Vocalist/ Alto

 
So, while at the festival and with the wonderful music of the ensemble (which I am also a member of) blaring in the background, I went on a mission, asking the question about jazz to the jazz and music lovers that gathered for the festival. What is jazz? 
Slideshow

Through questions, still shots of live music photography and frames of the performances, I came up with this slideshow and I hope that you will take the time to watch it.

My favorite responses were by the leader and pianist of the jazz ensemble, Mitchell, who said, “what isn’t jazz music?” and also by William Rivers, video technician at MNN Studios, who said,
"It's more than just music."  Please click on the following link to the slideshow featured on youtube below.
 


 
 
 
A Side Note
 
As mentioned previously, I produce and host a radio show, Jazz on the JNote on 91.5 FM via Medgar Evers College Radio. 
 
Please turn your radio dial
to 91.5 FM this Sunday, July 26th, 2015 at 6PM for Jazz on the JNote's Haitian Mix. 
 
Thank you for checking out my blogpost and have a delightful day.



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Something, Old, Something New, Something Borrowed: Music & Dance of Harlem



“A violinist had a violin, a painter his palette.

All I had was myself. I was the instrument that I must care for”

 [Josephine Baker].

 

In the heart of the night of June 4th, 2015, minds were taken aback to days of old, when the Harlem Swing Dance Society lindy hopped across the Alhambra Ballroom.

It was the first annual Purple Passion gala where crowds of beautiful people filled the room situated on 127th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd in Harlem, New York to raise funds against domestic violence.

Swing sounds influenced movements of Harlem’s fantastic dancers, reigniting history before viewer’s eyes. Though a dance from the 1930s, the antiquated dance brought joy to the hearts of so many.   

The sharing of these rhythmic complexities are all a “part of a worldwide trend to get back to the dance floor” [Shona Smith]. Dancers Etta Dixon, Bernard Dove, Ronald Jones and Shana Weaver are all a part of the Harlem Swing Dance Society, now in their seventh year of operation, collaborating with established historical organizations in Harlem and making a valuable contribution to the vibrant arts, culture and health of the community.

I will never forget watching the Nicholas Brothers slide, hop and split down stairs in the movie, “Stormy Weather” which also featured the swinging diva, Lena Horne, crooning her beauty to the world as dancers let their fancy foot work speak for them. The only difference in the W.A.R.M. event at Alhambra Ball Room was that the jazz band, Alvin Rogers and Harlem Freedom Band featuring Stephanie Jeannot performed separately adding their genuine flavor
to the room. The music they played was kicking and had folks getting down, followed by the true seasoned kicks of the Harlem Swing Dance Society keeping the 90 year old dance within today’s culture. There was history parked in the midst of each couple and right there in Harlem where the lindy hop first started.

The vibe at the Savoy Ballroom in the thirties must have been amazing when these dances first appeared with Frankie “Meathead” Manning and Charles Lindbergh, and were igniting passions.  What a great idea to go back to our African roots to help in celebrating the joys of life. If you are interested in knowing more about the Harlem Swing Dance Society and about the historical dance, the lindy hop, please check out:

 
 


 


 


 


   

 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day in a Brooklyn, NY


Memorial Day is one of those holidays that let's people know, summer has arrived.  With 80 degrees weather in New York City, it was easy to realize that maybe winter clothing could finally be put into storage as we prepare ourselves for warmer temperatures.

So what do you do on a Memorial Day in Brooklyn? How about taking a walk through BAM Dance Africa Annual a Bazaar? From Atlantic Mall to Fulton Street, music, vendors, dancing, food and fun was in the atmosphere. The temperature was just right to bake in the sub and enjoy the atmosphere.   Please check out live footage on Youtube as well as photographs that captured some of the wonderful activities that happened during the day. 

Memorial Day in Brooklyn; How Lovely! http://youtu.be/Qqgu4iO4tkI



 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Phattime " the Learning Network's" Pilot Run


“Directing is really exciting. At the end, it’s more fun to be the painter than the paint” [George Clooney]

 
Alvin Rogers, Educator, has the ability to paint ideas into vivid masterpieces that can leave a lasting effect on the hearts and minds of many. He is no stranger to inspiring others, being one of the many professors at the college of FIT as well as a wonderful tenor saxophonist. He can be described as a humanitarian because he goes beyond the grain when he puts into motion, non-collegiate educational programs, beneficial to the youth.

Many take the aspect of success and define it with material wealth. Examples of this may be, owning gigantic homes and fancy cars. But when you see the outcome of a well-organized plan and the young minds that are moved and excited about learning something fresh and new that can help them in their future, success is etched into their smiles. 

Alvin Rogers and his partner, Dan Johnson, an engineer at Google, has teamed up to teach youth technological skills.  The not-for-profit organization, Phattime seeks to change that and its pilot program has showed that change can be successfully implemented. The idea of change changes minds. And what a better way to do it than to share information about something that people will be interested in learning about.

Please check out the documentary created to give an in depth look at the pilot program and to raise visibility to what Phattime, the Learning Network  501 (3c) is all about.
 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Phattime’s Learning Network: Empowering Our Youth

Phattime’s Learning Network:

Empowering Our Youth

by Stephanie Jeannot & Alvin Rogers

When the weather gets nice, most of our youth find their energy being dissolved into playing in the courtyards and having uproarious fun with friends.  

Who could blame them? This winter has been so brutal and long, it makes sense why they would find pleasure in enjoying the great outdoors after hours, now that the evenings are dressed in warm sunlight. Yet, there are many other young people who have found refuge in mentors such as Alvin Rogers and Dan Johnson of the Phattime "the learning network" a 501(3c).



Phattime harnesses the power of social media and digital media platforms to empower urban youth. Phattime bridges cognitive learning principles with social networking methodologies: students have a personal space, which can be uniquely designed; students are able to invite friends to their network. Designed specifically for community organizations, The Phattime portal allows for shared information: student grades, attendance and test scores between teachers, parents and students. Parents can view student grades, attendance and dialog with teachers securely over the web.
 

"Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family" [Kofi Annan]. To know the power of transformation is to open doors to true intellect and the future. All students, well off or low income, ought to have access to information, and skills. It is essential that they explore their own assumptions and feelings about a particular topic or situation. 

Phatttime "the learning network"  has made their center of interest, to open new opportunities of learning to those who seem to have been cut off from access to empowerment. Under the guidance of coordinator, Ian Holly, this program had its first pilot run at Graham Windham's Beacon Center located at 301 west 140th street in Harlem. Like Rogers and Johnson, Graham Windham's mission is to "help under-served children overcome obstacles on the path to self-sufficiency by giving them the skills to succeed.

With their pilot program, Rogers and Johnson, have found an interesting way of delivering Mobile App Development using Cloud Technologies to Harlem Youth. They have taken those interested in positive change by the hand and geared them with tools that can definitely move mountains. 

It's been said that you create great men while young. These kids show their greatness beyond the typical classroom, gaining advantage in this booming technological world and embrace the education with true interest. Opportunity is not always fair gain or easy access, but this is Phattime's purpose; affording intellectuals of the future, right where access to this information is deserved. 

What would make this program even better would be funding. This grassroots organization feeds the youth with priceless information, worth more than wealth in itself. In truth, "obtaining intellectual capital is the key to American competitiveness and prosperity - Those with intellectual capital will qualify for professional positions those without it will find themselves working as cashiers, clerks, or custodians" [E. D. Hirsch]. 



This is what makes Phattime a great organization; they benefit "humanity." For more information on this organization, visit their website at http://www.phattime.com

 
 


 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Coming out of Spring


Been waiting for this moment for a while now; Spring!
 
Spring’s first day was March 20th and it seems like it took about a month and a half worth of days after that date for the warmth to settle in. Not quite sure if I am ready to put the winter clothes away and to bring out the warmer weather attire but here are a few things that you will definitely see coming out in the next few days:
 
Flowers

God’s natural beauties will definitely peak their heads out of the soil and soon will stand tall to the sun. It is that time.
 
Pulchritude will be all around us soon, showing us their fabulousness and sharing with us an essence of their awesome fragrance. Coming soon to a garden near you! 

 

 
Arms and Legs

The arms and the legs will come out from the wool turtlenecks, tights, bubble jackets, etc,  and soon you will see folks wearing short sleeves, shorts, and skirts with no jackets.
 
That is, if you have not seen this already. Which means; it is time to unpack the seasonal gear, see what fits, see what doesn’t and also, take advantage of some of those approaching semi-annual, friends and family sales and etc.

Maybe this is the time to consider giving into the Salvation Army when they leave their flyers for clothing pick up. Spring is definitely a time to part with the old and to enter in with the new. They do not call it spring cleaning for nothing!  
Summer is coming. Spring may also be the time to possibly take part in some group exercises at your local gym or to go on-line and discover some fitness challenges you can do in the comfort of your own home like this one; the 30-day squat challenge.  Every day for the month of may, a different challenge or amount of squats to do.
I mean, we will be wearing bathing suits soon. Why not tighten and tone in preparation for it?
 
Pilgrims

Tourists from everywhere will be in all corners of your oasis looking for fantastic new things to see. More traffic on the roads and more pedestrians walking around in the streets who may stop you and ask for directions. 

Maybe one of the things they twill find pleasure in partaking in is seeing the pilgrims come out to greet and celebrate the warm weather on the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street. You’ll hear them drumming. You’ll see crowds gathered as the heat sizzles. Not a bad way to spend lunchtime in New York. 
 

Pollen

As the trees regain their strength, or rather, their leaves, the allergies will become the problems at hand. 
But don’t settle for the issues; instead, grab a tissue to deal with the associated nasal drip that comes with allergies during the dreadful pollen season we all know and love. 
 
You might see Hudson Allergy walking around the area handing out packets of tissue and with excitement, you can tell your friends that you #foundthebox

These are just some things you might definitely see or won’t see. But whatever you do see, feel free to smile about it. This is the season of newness, positive outlooks. I look forward to seeing yours and sharing a smile back at you, if we should cross paths.
And to end my post, I'd like to leave you with a popular phrase from the allergy season of spring: God bless you!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Justice for Freddie Grey

On a clear day like April 25, 2015, revolutionaries of all colors and ages and from all different parts of  the United States, gathered together in unity, to march for justice  for the latest murder by police of an unarmed man who did not draw a weapon yet still has become a statistic.

Marchers were lead from the area which the murder took place, to City Hall where Malik Zulu Shabazz of Black Lawyers for Unity said, “this neighborhood had bad things happen in it. These here men are taking a stand on the front lines on the political struggle for equality.”

 


 Throughout the streets, hundreds marched chanting “all night; all day; we will fight for Freddie Grey!” and “Ignite! Convict! Send those killer cops to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”

Quinn 17 and Makayla 15 from Minnesota thought the

march for justice was a good cause to support.  With arms

interwoven with folks of all ages and colors, the scene

was very reminiscent of olden days when Martin Luther King Jr lead his peaceful

protests, also aiming for change.

 As the marchers marched,  cars joined into what began as a peaceful protest, throughout the streets of Baltimore, MD, also holding up signage and beeping while the marchers chanted and made sure the community knew that they would not remain silent.

Andrea McGee from Baltimore, MD wore a rag covering her mouth throughout the entirety of the protest stating that it was, “in honor of the people whose voices cannot be heard anymore because they were silenced by murder by the police.”  

 

To tenor saxophonist, Alvin Rogers, the youth hold the power and while holding up his signage that said, “We Shut Shit Down,” he rooted the youth on stating that “young people supporting causes such as the one in Baltimore was good for humanity.”

 

My thoughts

I have to admit, I left the scene while it was still civil. I felt this calmness in considering the ideas of Martin Luther King Jr’s peaceful protests and I also admit I was a little bit perturbed and disgusted at the idea of the unrest and rioting; even to the point of canning my pics and ideas taken as I walked with other revolutionaries fighting for what was right.

 



But can you blame us for being upset?  We deserve justice. It is overdue. We deserve to be treated fairly and not just as a number with darker skin that makes it alright to treat any old way. The injustice has to stop.  I stand in solidarity with the message that many of the protestors carried and waved in the air, “Cops are people. Indict them too!”








Please check out the following slideshow: "Rally in Baltimore, MD, April 25, 2015."

 
Thank you for checking out my blogpost!