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Jazzmobile Celebrates 45 Years of Outreach

Jazzmobile Reunion; Grant's Tomb, New York, N.Y.

Back in 1964, concerned about jazz losing its audience to rock and pop, pianist Billy Taylor came up with an idea to spread the word about jazz to new audiences. Why not bring the music to the streets and schools, like libraries were doing with their bookmobile? He called it Jazzmobile and, with the help of co-founder Daphne Arnstein, the result was one of the most talked about outreach programs in the history of jazz. The list of musicians who have performed for Jazzmobile programs reads like a who’s who of modern jazz. And it influenced several generations of upcoming jazz musicians.

On Aug. 9, 2009, dozens of jazz musicians, activists and educators associated with the program gathered together for a special reunion at Grant’s Tomb in N.Y.C., shortly before a performance by the Jimmy Heath band. Among the celebrants were Taylor, Heath, Melba Joyce, Jimmy Owens, Randy Weston, Charli Persip, Ray Mantilla, Diego Urcola, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Antonio Hart, Winard Harper and many other community-minded jazz folks.

Although the profile of Jazzmobile may have waned a bit in the mainstream press, the organization is still very much an active entity. This summer the spirit of the original founders is being kept alive by a series of performances in various locations throughout New York City.

Here is a list of performances still to come:

Tues., 18 August 7:00 PM

Lou Donaldson

City Hall Plaza

Mt. Vernon

Wed., 19 August 7:00 PM

Winard Harper

Grant’s Tomb – 122nd St. & Riverside Dr.


Thurs., 20 August 7:00 PM

Dave Gibson

Lyman Pl. bet. Freeman & 169th St.


Fri., 21 August 7:00 PM

Antoinette Montague

Marcus Garvey Park – 122nd St. & 5th Ave.


*Sat., 22 August 11:30 AM

Ray Mantilla

NY Family “Health Walk-a-thon”

St. Nicholas Park

135th St. & St. Nicholas Ave.


Sat. 22 Aug 3:00PM

Arturo O’Farrill

J. Hood Wright Park

Fort Washington Ave., bet. W. 174th & 175th St

Washington Heights

Mon., 24 August 7:00 PM

The Duke Ellington Legacy Band, featuring Edward Ellington II

106th St. bet. Central Park West & Manhattan Ave.


Tues., 25 August 7:00 PM

Cecil Bridgewater & the Jazzmobile All-Stars

122nd St. bet. 7th & Lenox Aves.


Wed., 26 August 7:00 PM

Frank Wess

Grant’s Tomb – 122nd St. & Riverside Dr.


*Wed., 26 August 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM

(3 Sets)

Boncella Lewis

“The Joints are Jumpin'”


2620 8th Ave. at 140th St.

Thurs., 27 August 7:00 PM

Lynette Washington

132nd St. bet. 7th & Lenox Aves.


Fri., 28 August 7:00 PM

Ghanniyya Green

Marcus Garvey Park – 122nd St. & 5th Ave.


*Note: As part of Harlem Week 2009

For more information about these shows or Jazzmobile, call 212-866-1900 or go to

Originally Published