BY JAMES FARRELL
Flushing Town Hall will be a haven for jazz enthusiasts on April 30 as the Queens Jazz OverGround will host a daylong smorgasbord of performances and classes for its fifth annual Spring Jazz Fest.
The event, which is free, runs from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will put Queens’ jazz musicians in the spotlight and encourage learning and participation— which is the mission of the Jazz OverGround, a collective that promotes jazz performance and education in Queens.
The day will include performances by student jazz musicians, jazz master classes, shows with middle school and high school student bands and an evening of six performances by professional, Queens-based jazz ensembles.
From 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., there will be a mixture of master classes and student performers. Hosted by members of the Queens Jazz OverGround, the master classes are open to everyone and will teach students a basic jazz repertoire before culminating in a jam session.
Meanwhile, student big bands and small combos from Queens schools will showcase their music and participate in clinics with the pros. The general public is welcome to attend both performances and clinics.
Beginning at 6 p.m. and running until 10 p.m., a number of professional acts will perform overlapping hour-long sets in Flushing Town Hall’s gallery and theater. Those acts include the Rose Ellis Quartet, the Joey Johnson Quintet, Hashem Assadullahi’s Standard Deviation Trio with drummer Matt Wilson, the Rafal Sarnecki Sextet, the Daisuke Abe Quartet and the Brian Woodruff Sextet +1, featuring vocalist Vicki Burns.
“The sextet is designed to incorporate the extended compositional possibilities of a big band, while retaining the improvisational flexibility and economic advantages of a small group,” a bio from the Brian Woodruff Sextet’s website reads. “[The] music is undoubtedly cutting-edge modern jazz, but you’ll still be tapping your feet, nodding your head and will probably find yourself humming some of the tunes on your way home.”
Other highlights from the performances include Hashem Assadullahi’s Standard Deviation Trio, which is led by saxophonist and bandleader Assadullahi. The group improvises over a mixture of well-known and rare tunes by Kern, Gershwin, Berlin and others, playing with both harmony and form. And Rafal Sarnecki is a renowned jazz guitarist who obtained his master’s degree from Queens College. He has performed in Europe, Israel, China, Korea and Malaysia. His debut album, “Song From A New Place,” was nominated for the Fryderyk Award—which is the Polish equivalent of a Grammy—in 2009.
Additionally, saxophonist, composer and Queens resident Joey Johnson has wrapped up his residency at the Abbey in Brooklyn will perform at the festival with his quintet—which is an expansion of his previous quartet known as Little Gorgeous. Singer, lyricist and songwriter Rose Ellis, who recently received the Herb Alpert Young Composers Award from the ASCAP foundation, will also perform, alongside the Daisuke Abe Quartet. Abe is a renowned jazz guitarist who began studying music in Tokyo and has since received many positive reviews from publications such as JazzTimes and DownBeat since arriving in New York City.
For more information, visit queenjazz.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is free and will take place at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, email@example.com or @farrellj329.