The Hardest Part: Getting Started
Hello, all! My name is Richard Collins. The good people at Flushing Town Hall have asked me to write about a favorite topic: music. Specifically, jazz. More specifically: the monthly Jazz Jam at Flushing Town Hall.
On the first Wednesday of every month, any musician with a love of jazz is welcome to come to Flushing Town Hall, and sit in with a house band made up of members of the Queens Jazz OverGround (QJOG). But, I get ahead of myself.
For the uninitiated, a jam (short for jam session) is where a group of musicians get together, play music for the love of playing music, mingle, swap stories and riffs, and generally have a good time.
The Jazz Jam at Flushing Town Hall is the brainchild of the venue’s Director of Education, Gabrielle Hamilton, and it’s is a three-hour event, beginning at 7:00 PM. Potential players need only bring their axes, sign in, and be ready to play. Folks who don’t play but love listening to live jazz are charged a modest $10 – or only $5 for students with identification and yearly members of the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts.
As I said, the house band, the members of the QJOG (Amanda, Brian, Josh,… I know I missed some names, but I’ll make it up the next chorus) run the jam. They are working musicians: they gig, work regularly scheduled brunches about town, write, play recording dates, work on solo projects, and educate as well. I met them in 2012 when I was fortunate to be the soundman for a daylong jazz event organized by QJOG at Flushing Town Hall. There were wonderful performances by their members in the Gallery and in the Theatre. For me, the highlights of the day were created by the performances of jazz orchestras from three middle schools, one high school, and one college. If you’re a jazz head who laments over the impending death of the idiom, fear not: jazz is alive and well In Queens County. Those kids were no joke!
I wish I could give the musical backgrounds of some of the “walk-in” musicians who play at The Jam. “Walk-in” is really a misnomer because nearly all of the players know about the jam by word-of-mouth from friends and teachers. No matter how they found out, they get here and most come back. I think it’s because of the easy, almost cozy, camaraderie they find there. Most have played in bands at some time at some level and this is an opportunity to dust off their chops in a no-pressure club-like atmosphere. And, the younger guys get to play with and learn from musicians from other generations.
Jazz lovers all! Lots of regulars who show up almost every month, weather-be-damned, to partake of and be part of the mix.
Historic Flushing Town Hall is home to the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts. It’s a very special place run by Executive and Artistic Director Ellen Kodedek and her staff.
Well, that’s enough for this first time around. Until next time, have a joyful season!