Jazz takes centerstage at Flushing Town Hall festival

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Amanda Monaco wants to share her love of jazz with others while they have fun and learn more about the history of the music and its ties to Queens.

“Our goal is to create community and share the love and joy of the music with the people,” said Monaco, 39, of Queens Jazz OverGround, a non-profit collective that formed last year to support jazz artists in the borough. “We want to inspire others to be creative,” added Monaco, who teaches at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

A musician since she was 12 who has been playing professionally since she was 15, Monaco will be one of several borough artists who will perform as part of the Queens Jazz OverGround Spring Jazz Festival this week.

The free festival begins at noon on Saturday, April 27, and runs late into the evening, and will be held at Flushing Town Hall, at 137-35 Northern Blvd. There will be workshops and classes for children, teens and adults and performances by local artists. Monaco said around 300 people are expected to come.

Queens Jazz OverGround also aims to provide “musical enrichment and education to local communities and … to stimulate wider awareness of Queens as a destination for arts and culture,” according to a prepared statement.

One of the earlier scheduled workshops, titled “Writing Creatively to Our Blues and Jazz Tradition,” is led by Kirpal Gordon, a performer and spoken word artist who has presented this program in public schools. Another early-afternoon event is a jazz improvisation master class that is open to middle, high school and college students.

An evening performance features James Spaulding on alto sax and flute with the Queens Jazz OverGround trio: Amanda Monaco on guitar, Mark Wade on bass and Brian Woodruff on drums.

Betsy Enright, director of external affairs for the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, said the council is sponsoring and promoting the festival to make jazz in Queens more visible.

“They’re young artists who have a great interest in teaching jazz to the community,” Enright said about the collective. She hoped the day-long event Saturday would attract not only jazz lovers, but people who are new to the Queens community and who may just be learning about this music genre.

Enright said some audience members may come from Manhattan, but the bulk will come from Queens. The council has also advertised in different-language media to attract a diverse group of people to the festival, she said.

Queens has a rich history of jazz. Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne and other musicians once called the St. Albans section of the borough home.

if you go

Jazz OverGround Spring Jazz Festival

Saturday, April 27, Noon - 10:30 p.m.

Flushing Town Hall

137-35 Northern Blvd.


(718) 463-7700 or

Updated 11:51 am, March 6, 2015
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