Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium produces a Jazz Festival every year. 2016 brings our 17th Annual Festival. The Brooklyn grassRoots festival this year runs from April 15th until May 15. This years event was fantastic. View our magazine for a look inside.
The following is a reprint from a 2014 addition of: Magazine JazzWoman 10 Years Later By Jo Ann Cheatham is free. Each Sunday is different; the musicians have a rare opportunity to play without restriction of pleasing a club owner in order to be rehired, they let the music flow freely. If a well-known figure in the jazz community makes their transition, the life and works of that person is celebrated. What started as a promise has evolved into a musical tribute to her son? It is fitting that these concerts are held on Sunday because this is the sacred day of the week and this is the celebration of a life, the most sacred thing we have. Can you imagine conducting a structured Jazz Concert for as many as 55 people every Sunday in your living room? This weekly task could give New York restaurateur B. Smith the jitters. Why in the world would a person perform such an awesome feat each Sunday come rain or shine for nine years? It all began in 1994 when Marjorie Eliot was visiting her son Philip in the hospital. He was there because of a serious kidney ailment and they both know he did not have long. “My mission every day was to go into the hospital with something fun to talk about. He was very optimistic always smiling, so I wanted to make every day a pretty day.” She told her son “You can sit in the parlor and listen to some music on Sunday.” Philip was an actor and played the piano as did her four other sons Rudel, Michael, Shaun and Alfred. He said he liked the 48 idea. Marge as she is affectionately known is accustomed to having music in the parlor because that’s where she took piano while growing up. Sundays after church people would come over to her house and the family would ask her to play the tunes she had learned. “Those little tunes that you know that you can play well.” When brainstorming a project she notes you go to your own resources.” As soon as Marge got home she started contacting the musicians she knew and asked them to come and play that Sunday, And her pool of music people was extensive; besides her own piano activity she is married to Al Drears . The music has been flowing ever since. The musicians who come are serious musicians well known well known in their own right. “This is not a jam session: this is a paid gig for them.” she says, she says, and sometimes this is difficult because admission Every Sunday her couch is removed and replaced with folding chairs. In the beginning her family complained” you’ve taken every comfortable chair out of here.” My idea was to have a concert stage and have the audience meet the artist. When I first started, it was Jazz and theatre Sundays, every other Sunday it would be a play and I was crazy because I’d be writing all Saturday night.” The audience is comprised of her regulars plus people from around the world. Marge has a collection if articles written about Parlor Entertainment from the New York Times Daily News and many papers in Europe. In days gone by when Jazz enthusiasts came to New York, the firsts place they would want to visit was 52nd Street. Today it’s Parlor Entertainment. The people are true jazz lovers, not just tourists. Someone who has been there will spread the word about Parlor Entertain-
ment. “These are people who really want to come to Harlem. They find a treasure trove here and they come back.” One guy from London told Marge that when he informed his mother he was coming back to New York, his mother said. “I know where you will be on Sundays. You’ll be at that nice woman, Marge Eliot; s house, Marge continued, she had also read about us in the papers in Europe. It’s an embarrassment of riches really, because the New York Times goes everywhere. I had a lot of people calling me from Europe about the articles they have read. A man came Sunday who later hugged me and said ‘Thank you for celebrating Philip: we lost our little girl too’ and there he was in tears and all. We just hugged, so if I never see him again, we‘ve bonded. People come here because they get a chance to see great musicians. This is a quite celebration of tie life,” Marge concludes. “I don’t want it to be anything else. It is not surprising that she gets no complaints from her neighbors, given the roster of former tenants who were well known jazz musicians: Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins. Andy Kirk and actor/singer Paul Robeson have called this building home. The landlord lives upstairs in Andy Kirk’s old apartment. “The community celebrates it and I‘ve never had any real complaints. Anyone who doesn’t love this, there is something wrong with them. People come and embrace the idea and legally. I can do this, I can have a party.” When asked, if that’s the reason there is no charge, she says, “I don’t want to merchandise my kid.” Marge is an only child whose father played the trumpet and worked in a laundry to support his family hails from Philadelphia. Piano lessons began at the age of five and she started playing for her church when she was twelve. A few years later, she moved to New York to study drama. As a resident of the Washington Heights area for over twenty years, she was inducted into the People’s Hall of Fame) located in the Museum of the City of New York) by City Lore. A nonprofit organization that recognizes living individuals deemed cultural treasurers. Marge was honored for keeping alive a unique expression of Harlem’s Jazz legacy. That mission is furthered enhanced by her yearly outdoor concert at the Jumel Mansion, a historic site dating back to revolutionary times. In addition, Marge is the Founder and Artistic Director of Children’s Theatre and Music Workshop. “I write plays for them and Jazz is the music I use. I talk about the neighborhood and what African American classical music has had to go through. It’s an academy without walls,” The young actors rehearse and perform during their vacation breaks from school. “I want children to know the musicians I know. It is important that we embrace the children. And I love it. I love working with children, she states. Marge feels that music is the diving rod that brings us together “I thank this audience each Sunday for helping to create this miracle.” Parlor Entertainment is located at 555 Edgecombe Avenue. For information call 212-791-6595 It should be noted that this was the first Jazz Woman and Marge Elliot continues her work with Parlor Entertainment, gathering great artists for a swinging Sunday event. Please support by stopping by on a Sunday. Marge Elliot Jo Ann Cheatham is Founder and Publisher for Pure Jazz Magazine. She recently made her transistion. 49