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
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? 

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.