*On a balmy Sunday, August 19, 2012 from 3pm to 5pm, Danny Simmons and Victor Syng co-hosted a lovely garden party at the estate of Danny’s brother Russell Simmons in East Hampton, New York for an afternoon of Jazz & Cocktails featuring a special performance by Wycliffe Gordon with the Patience Higgins Trio.
Presented by Jazzmobile, Inc. the festive party with its New Orleans flair was attended by an intimate number of faithful Jazzmobile supporters with catering and wines generously provided by Bed-Vyne Wine Shop.
As guests pulled into a sweeping driveway at the amazingly ample Simmons’ estate they were directed to an enormous parking space contiguous to the main house. Once inside the main house they were greeted by the master of the mansion himself, Russell, who encouraged them to enjoy themselves at his home – albeit brief!
Outside on the expensive Italian stone veranda revelers partied like it was 1999 to the New Orleans-style jazz sounds of The Patience Higgins Trio – Patience Higgins (saxophone), Radam Schwartz (keyboards) and Alvin Atkinson (drums) — with musical ambassador and interpreter of America’s music, Wycliffe Gordon (trombone). The music was jazz hot prompting guests to perform the signature New Orleans’ “Second Line Dance” to the amusement of the estate staff.
In her upbeat welcoming remarks Robin Bell-Stevens, president & CEO, Jazzmobile, Inc., spoke proudly about what’s happening at Jazzmobile touching on Jazzmobile’s performance programs (Summerfest, great jazz on the great hill in Central Park, Harlem jazz shrines, jazz vocal competition); instructional programs (Saturday jazz workshop; jazz appreciation: lecture-demonstrations, master classes); and special projects (commissions & residencies; and humanities: panels and symposia).
Bell-Stevens then introduced Linda Walton, Jazzmobile’s vice president, programming, who pontificated about some of the new programs including the jazz workshop consisting of Master Classes conducted by great jazz legends and artists. This free program, with a nominal registration fee, serves both minority and non-minority students from the five boroughs and the tri-state area. Many of the workshop students have gone on to achieve successful careers in jazz.
Another popular program is an annual series of lecture-demonstration concerts in elementary, junior high, and high schools where talented and skilled Jazzmobile artists conduct a one hour musical and oral presentation focusing on the history and evolution of jazz.
This program educates the students of NYC public schools in jazz, an area of music that is often times overlooked by traditional programs. This project also provides youth with an opportunity to participate in the presentation and enjoy the talents of musicians that they would normally not be able to hear in a live performance.
Before turning the program back over to the special performances, Bell-Stevens thanked Tangie Murray, executive director, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, who worked tirelessly to make sure everything went off smoothly; as well as Russell for allowing the event to be held at his home, the caterers, and the event co-hosts Victor and Danny.
Founded in 1964 by the late National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, composer, pianist, educator, jazz legend Dr. Billy Taylor, and the late arts advocate Daphne Arnstein, Jazzmobile’s mission is to “Present, Preserve, Promote and Propagate JAZZ,” America’s classical music.
For most people Jazzmobile is synonymous with its Summerfest, which has presented free, public concerts in Harlem neighborhoods and other neighborhoods in New York City for nearly 50 years. Jazzmobile’s presentation of high quality jazz education programs, its service and underserved communities and its services to the field of jazz are well understood and highly valued by its stakeholders, colleagues and audiences.
In recent years, Jazzmobile has increased its donor base with support from organizations and individuals such as Chase Bank, Blooomberg Philanthropy, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, George Wein, Loida Nicolas Lewis, Dick and Laura Cashin, Jerome Chazen and Ronald Perlman. Jazzmobile is the oldest organization of its kind created just for Jazz!
About Jazzmobile, Inc.
Housed at the Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Harlem, this nationally known and highly respected instructional model project was instituted in 1969, and attracts children ages 7 years and up from throughout New York City and the Tri-State area.
Working with highly experienced Jazzmobile artist/instructors using the “master/apprentice” approach, students are able to develop their technical and musical skills. Emphasis is placed on Harmony and Theory, Reading Proficiency, Instrument Technique Development, Ensemble and Improvisational Playing as these important musical elements relate to the Jazz tradition. Many of their students have successfully entered the professional music field.
*On a sizzling hot Tuesday evening, August 28, 2012, hundreds of New Yorkers attended the annual Radio & Records “Salute to Excellence” Awards cruise aboard The Harbor Lights Luxury Liner moored at the New York SkyPort Marina at FDR Drive and East 23rd Street at The Inkwell Yacht Club.
Guests dressed in their nautically chic spandex boarded the yacht at 6:30pm and rocked the boat as it leisurely snaked around the Hudson River where we paid respect to our favorite lady in the Harbor, The Statute of Liberty, as well as raised our glasses to salute the famous site of the World Trade Center until it returned to port at 10:30pm.
This was a fun vessel that had passengers from passing yachts waiving enthusiastically to the crowd and dancing to the beat of the power driven music hotly spun by host and DJ Kevin “Sugar Daddy” Woodley covering music on all three levels.
This year’s honorees included Dedra N. Tate, Vinny Brown, Sharon Heyward & Full Force. In addition, radio personality Debi Jackson was presented with a special award for her ongoing exceptional work on “Hal Jackson’s Sunday Classics.” Entertainment was provided by the Ladies of SKYY. Guests of honorees had the pleasure of having a full VIP level to themselves where they grooved to pulsating music all night long.
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.