It was going to take more than simply an executive order shutting down New York State to stop what has become one of the most popular jazz jam sessions in Queens.
Flushing Town Hall hosts a monthly program where up to 20 or so musicians and singers, depending on available time, can perform with the FTH house band backing them up on the jazz standards of their own selection.
“Some of the jam sessions in Manhattan don’t like getting vocalists, but we welcome them,” said Carol Sudhalter, a saxophone and flute player from Astoria who heads the Flushing Town Hall Jazz Jam.
The gathering on April 15, titled, “Virtual Jazz Jam: Celebrating the Legacy of Louis Armstrong,” had to go online, with performers and fans joining in through FTH’s Facebook page or Zoom.
It is part of the new FTH at Home initiative.
It went well, and the next one is scheduled for this coming Wednesday, May 13, at 7 p.m. Performing slots will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
Sudhalter said they have had to make accommodations for the virtual setting.
“We normally go from 7 to 10 p.m.,” she said of the live performances at their Northern Boulevard home. “But now we only are able to go until 8:30 or 9 p.m. We might only be able to have 15 or 16 musicians perform.”
Sudhalter is the daughter of a professional musician, and has recorded numerous CDs. She founded the Astoria Big Band, which performs jazz standards, back in 1986. She also has, thorough performances and articles, told the story of women composers who lived in or had connections to Queens.
She said they have had artists as young as high school sign up, break out their instruments and join in.
Many numbers pay tribute to the work of Armstrong, the late jazz legend who adopted Corona as his home. Sudhalter said the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation provides financial support for FTH’s jazz programming.
Prospective performers are asked to send an email to email@example.com identifying a three- or four-minute tune they intend to share. It can be live or pre-recorded, but not a professionally edited recording.
Those who performed during the April jam are being asked not to sign up as the band is rotating in new participants.