Our Monthly Jazz Jams are open to professional jazz musicians, graduate students studying Jazz, music educators, and serious hobbyists. Typically held on the first Wednesday of every month, Jazz Jams are a fun way to hone your skills, and jameach month with your peers.
Since fall 2016, the Jazz Jams have been led by Queens resident Carol Sudhalter, who has spent more than four decades teaching masterclasses and lessons in jazz improvisation, flute, sax, and piano, and English Diction for Singers throughout the United States and Italy. Carol, the first graduate of Smith College to become a jazz musician, had played with the first all-female Latin band, Latin Fever, at the Salsa Festival at Madison Square Garden alongside Tito Puente, and founded, and plays bari in, the Astoria Big Band.
You began to lead Flushing Town Hall’s monthly jazz jams in 2016. Who attends these and what draws them to the events?
There is a mix of fans and musicians. The fans are folks who want to listen to good jazz in Queens and seem to feel that that’s what they’ll get at this event! The musicians are of all types – professional, amateur, retired, part – time, beginner – and all ages, who want to try out their wings.
Tell us what typically happens during a jazz jam.
Musicians and singers both professional and amateur sign a list, and are called to the bandstand (either one by one or in groups), to play a tune with the band.
What is the mood/environment like at a jazz jam?
Jam sessions can be anything from supportive and friendly to hostile, competitive, and click-isa. This particular one is very friendly and supportive of all players.
When did you first discover a love for jazz?
I loved jazz since I was a toddler. My father played Chicago style jazz on alto sax. Every night since I was born, I heard him practicing along with records for several hours. Later, my brother took up trumpet, and we had jam sessions at our house with lots of wonderful Boston musicians. When I was 10 we traveled from Boston to Eddie Condon’s in New York to hear the band.
What do you want people to experience at a jazz jam?
For the audience, the enjoyment of musical collaboration and improvisation. For the musicians, growth, new levels of confidence and Inspiration.
You live in Queens. How has jazz shaped Queens’ history?
Reams of great players lived in Queens. Louis Armstrong stands out the most, but then Dizzy Gillespie, Rose CheeChee Murphy, so many more. There were clubs active with jazz all throughout. My big band does a concert, “Jazz History of Queens”. The original narrator was bassist Leonard Gaskin, who described all the clubs and activity going on for decades. He played for Louis Armstrong in the old days.
Which jazz artists do you most admire and why?
Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, Lucky Thompson, Sonny Rollins, Big Beiderbecke, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Coleman Hawkins, Clifford Brown and about 1,000 more. They were all geniuses. They created their own style and sound. They gave us so much.