Tag Archives: Queens Jazz Overground

Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Wednesday: Sunny. High near 25. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Partly to mostly cloudy. Low 19. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Monthly Jazz Jam

At 5 p.m., individuals can learn more about jazz and play with the Queens Jazz OverGround. At 7 p.m., musicians are invited to jam with QJOG and anybody else who shows up. $10 for spectators, free from performers and students. Flushing Town Hall, Flushing, 137-35 Northern Blvd., www.flushingtownhall.org.

Second day of bitter cold bears down on tri-state, thaw ahead

A second icy morning is chilling the tri-state Wednesday, but commuters should see warmer temperatures as teeth-chattering cold brought on by a frigid, swirling system known as a polar vortex begins to ease out of the area. Read more: NBC New York

Cuomo lays out his agenda for NY in election year

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to deliver an election-year State of the State address touting tax breaks and economic successes. Read more: AP

More than 100 ex-NYC workers faked disabilities, got federal benefits: officials

More than 100 former police officers, firefighters and other city workers are accused of faking mental disabilities in order to get tens of thousands of dollars in Social Security benefits each year, authorities announced Tuesday. Read more: NBC New York

De Blasio tries tosway City Council speaker vote

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made the unusual decision to forcefully interject himself into the race for the powerful post leading the City Council, may have helped engineer a victory for his preferred candidate. Read more: CBS New York/AP

New York scores high for school choice in report

New York is right near the top of a new nationwide scorecard on school choice — a status it could kiss goodbye under the policies of Mayor de Blasio. Read more: New York Post

Flushing Town Hall to host jazz festival

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


Jazz is coming to Flushing Town Hall. The town hall and the Queens Jazz OverGround (QJOG), which promotes jazz education and musical enrichment, are hosting the first annual Spring Jazz Festival on Saturday, April 27.

Three founding members of QJOG, a nonprofit collective, along with Ellen Kodadek, Flushing Town Hall executive and artistic director, trumpeted the event on Tuesday, April 23. Guitarist Amanda Monaco, bassist Mark Wade and trumpeter Josh Deutsch also played an original composition by Deutsch called “Take the 7 train.”

“It’s going to be a very fun learning experience,” Kodadek said. It will “strengthen jazz for years to come.”

The free festival will begin at noon and run through 9:30 p.m. It will feature free music workshops for children and adults, master classes for students and live performances by seven Queens-based jazz groups playing original pieces. Renowned saxophone and flute player James Spaulding is scheduled to perform.

The festival will also feature the talents of middle and high school bands.

The event is free and open to the public at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Boulevard. The last performance of the evening is scheduled for 9:30 p.m.

“We welcome as many walk-ins as we can fit in here,” said Wade.

The festival is part of Flushing Town Hall’s jam session series designed to bring jazz to members of different communities.



Bringing jazz to Queens

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Daniel Sheehan and Erika Kapin

Josh Deutsch loves jazz.

He can speak to it in excess, understands it and appreciates all the jazz greats.

Originally a pianist before switching to trumpet, jazz is Deutsch’s life — in every component.

Teaching, when coinciding with performing, is one of Deutsch’s favorite parts of music as he helps his students explore the technical and creative aspects of jazz. While telling his students they need to develop their ear, Deutsch says he himself will start to do the same when rehearsing. At the same time, watching students improvise and write their first pieces is personally rewarding.

But it isn’t necessarily Miles Davis’ skills as a trumpeter Deutsch says he tries to emulate. Rather, it’s Davis’ ability to arrange a select group of musicians with varying styles that all come together. An example he cites is “Miles Smiles,” Davis’ 1967 album, which featured pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, drummer Tony Williams and bassist Ron Carter.

Davis’ desire to find the exact sound he wanted drove him to forming some of the most storied groups in music history.

“The way that he set up the group, the conception for a band – idea for the overall sound he wanted,” he said almost at a loss of words to describe Davis’ abilities.

He has in part brought this dynamic to one of his groups: Pannonia, which he describes as “a very New York band.”

The five-man ensemble is made up of violinist Zach Brock, trombonist Brian Drye, bassist Gary Wang and percussionist Ronen Itzik. Deutsch, when composing for the group, considers what each member’s style is and uses it as a base for each musician’s innovation.

“I’m not just bringing in a tune,” he said. “I’m bringing in music for individual musicians. I have both the instrumentation picked out, but then it’s almost like another level of innovations [by the musician].”

The Seattle-born trumpeter who grew up in a culture where jazz was surprisingly popular among middle and high school programs said he gravitated toward New York and Queens, by the wide range of musicians that have made the city their home.

“As far as putting projects together: the level of musicians here [have a] good variety,” he said.

Lately, he’s been focusing on more shows in Queens to expand jazz to a wider base of listeners. He helped establish the Queens Jazz Overground, which he says is a response to the Brooklyn Jazz Underground. The project is a collection of Queens-based Jazz ground, including Deutsch’s group  Pannonia.

The Overground is intended bring in music listeners — mainly families — who might not travel to Brooklyn or Manhattan to take in some Jazz. The project’s goal is to “connect with people that may be music fans, but wouldn’t want to go to Brooklyn and Manhattan to go to a music club.”

“Since I’ve been here,” he said. “I don’t think people think about going to music in Queens.”

Deutsch is happy where his music is going, and aims on starting more projects with new sounds. Deutsch is currently working on several projects, and the smaller ones allow him to travel out of New York once and a while and get more exposure.

While New York has a slew of music lovers, and musicians, listeners outside of the five boroughs really take an ear to jazz and all music in general.

“Obviously, as musicians, I think we want to get the music out there to as wide of an audience as possible,” he said.“When you get out of New York and play your music in other places…people get really into it.”



LIC jazz guitarist strikes a chord

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Amanda Monaco

At age 12, Amanda Monaco picked up a guitar. One hasn’t left her hands since.

The Long Island City jazz guitarist, whose strumming floats through neighborhood wine bars and music venues, now leads the Queens Jazz Overground. A spinoff of the nonprofit Brooklyn Jazz Underground, it is a local resource for jazz musicians and fans.

“I started playing this music because it was fun and had community attached to it,” said Monaco. “You could really connect with people and it was adventurous. I think people are missing out.”

The New Haven, Connecticut, native’s love of jazz began with “The Muppet Show.”

Jim Henson, inventor of the Muppets and renowned jazz fan, implemented the musical style into many of his creations. Monaco recalled a particular episode of the program she watched as a child where the characters Wayne and Wanda sang “Autumn Leaves.”

“They took jazz and had fun with it,” said Monaco.

Growing up, Monaco’s father played in a local dance band and James Brown tunes regularly echoed from her family’s home. Her dad ran a cruise night where guys would bring their cars, show them off and fix them up. Monaco’s oldies cover band scored the gig and entertained the crowds with Motown hits.

Monaco studied music at Rutgers and William Paterson universities before attending graduate school at City College, at the encouragement of her father.

“He was always really supportive,” she said of her dad, who passed away in 2006 from pancreatic cancer.

Last September, Monaco accepted a position as an assistant professor in Berklee College’s jazz department. Once a week, she travels from New York to Boston to teach, a job that has secured Monaco’s necessary health insurance. The guitarist was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis three months before her 2005 wedding.

“Getting insurance was a big priority for me,” said Monaco. “People just don’t think about it.”

The musician feels jazz is frequently pigeonholed — many believe a deep knowledge of the art form is required to appreciate it. The Overground hopes to erase the stigma, informing people that jazz is entertaining without being overly intellectual. The collective, which originally formed as the LIC Jazz Alliance in 2010, consists of five members, many of whom have been playing music together since their college days.

“All of us agree that jazz is something really fun,” she said.

Monaco’s vision for the Overground is to secure a dedicated space for the jazz community to come together, a goal she hopes to achieve over the next five years.

“Being creative is something that helps everyone,” she said.