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Sista’s Place: A Jazz & Cultural Beachhead in Brooklyn (Part One)

In first of a two-part series, Willard Jenkins interviews people behind the scenes at the cooperative music and cultural center in Brooklyn

Writer and radio host Willard Jenkins introduces Jason Moran & Bandwagon at the 2010 Rosslyn Jazz Festival
Sista's Place in Brooklyn, NY

Some weeks back an invigorating, spirited Saturday evening was spent at Sista’s Place, a cooperative black enterprise at 456 Nostrand Avenue (corner of Jefferson Avenue; by subway take A or C train to Nostrand Ave. stop) in Brooklyn. The occasion was an all-star band including trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah, baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett, violinist Billy Bang, pianist D.D. Jackson, tubist Bob Stewart, and drummer Andrew Cyrille. Needless to say, with such fire breathers onstage the action was ferocious. And this was an audience that fed the fire in equal turns. Though comfortably mixed, the audience was decidedly African American, and a constant amen corner further stoked the musicians; their delight at playing for such an encouraging audience was palpable on the artists’ faces and in their playing. There’s nothing quite like a thoroughly engaged audience to coax high caliber performances.

Then on a recent Sunday afternoon we had a return visit to Sista’s Place for a book signing with Randy Weston for our book African Rhythms, the autobiography of Randy Weston (Composed by Randy Weston, Arranged by Willard Jenkins; Duke University Press). Once again the Sista’s Place audience was thoroughly engaged, delighting in Weston’s vivid recounting of his life in Brooklyn and in his quest of the spirits of our ancestors.

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