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The Paramount

From left, Jim Condron, The Paramount co-owner; Suffolk County Legislator Susan A. Berland; Dominick Catoggio, The Paramount co-owner; Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone; and Stephen Ubertini, The Paramount co-owner

Grateful for the service of Suffolk County’s dedicated United States military veterans and all active service members, The Paramount—in conjunction with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Legislator Susan A. Berland, the Suffolk County Legislature and the greater Huntington community—are showing their appreciation. Throughout the month of May, The Paramount will be waiving ticket fees at the box office for those who have served as a thank you for the sacrifices they have made for the country’s freedom.

“With nearly 50,000 veterans living right here in Suffolk County, it’s fair to say service to the country is in the DNA of our residents,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Dedicating May as Military Appreciation Month throughout the county is only a small part of the thanks we owe our veterans for our freedom and I commend The Paramount for being an integral part in honoring our heroes this month.”

The Paramount’s no-fee tickets are available to all veterans and all active service members on Long Island. Tickets must be purchased in person by presenting a Veterans Identification Card (VIC) or Proof of Service Letter at The Paramount’s box office located at 370 New York Ave in Huntington, New York. Tickets are available for purchase from noon until 6 p.m. everyday, with extended hours until 9 p.m. on show days. Waived ticket fees are applicable to any performance at The Paramount during the month of May for veterans.

“With the unanimous support of my colleagues in the legislature, we designated May as Military Appreciation Month in Suffolk County. I applaud The Paramount for its recognition of Military Appreciation Month and commitment to bringing entertainment to our local heroes,” said Legislator Susan A. Berland, chairwoman of the Legislature’s Veterans Committee. “I want to thank The Paramount for acknowledging our military personnel and making the generous offer to waive their fees during the month of May. The Paramount is an amazing venue to see a concert, comedy show or sporting event. It has universal appeal and is an asset to the Town of Huntington and Suffolk County.”

The Paramount’s scheduled entertainment throughout May includes performances by Johnny Marr, Whitesnake, Billy Currington, Frank Turner, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Live Starring: Rachel Bloom, Judas Priest, And That’s Why We Drink, The Pump and Dump, Stryper, Rodrigo y Gabriela, The New York Bee Gees:Bee Gees Tribute, Jim Breuer, Art Alexakis, The Beach Boys, and Mike DelGuidice.

For more information about The Paramount, please visit www.paramountny.com.

Tom Manuel leads the Jazz Loft Big Band on a bandstand at the loft, constructed from pieces of the original dance floor of New York’s famed Roseland Ballroom. Photo from The Jazz Loft

By John Broven

On May 21, Stony Brook Village reverberated to the sounds of a New Orleans-style street parade to mark the opening of The Jazz Loft at 275 Christian Ave. That happy day brought to reality the dreams of president and founder Tom Manuel.

“In the brief seven months the Jazz Loft has been open we’ve been able to accomplish the goals of our mission well ahead of schedule,” Manuel said. “Our performance calendar has presented some of the finest local, national and international artists; our educational programming has established our pre-college Jazz Institute in collaboration with Stony Brook University; and Our Young at Heart program has introduced wonderful music therapy events to people with memory loss.

“In addition to all of this our lecture series, family concerts, sponsored concert series and acquisitions and installations of jazz memorabilia, art, photography and more are ongoing and ever growing.”

Tom Manuel with children during The Creole Love Song: Operation Haiti! mission. Photo from The Jazz Loft

For establishing The Jazz Loft so quickly and effectively as a community resource, Manuel, a 37-year-old educator, historian and trumpet player, from St. James, is recognized by TBR News Media as a Person of the Year.

“Tom Manuel is a well-deserving nominee for Person of the Year,” Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said. “The Jazz Loft is an incredible gift to the 1st Council District. Tom’s passion for jazz has been transformed into a vivid, vibrant, collection of jazz history and a home for local talent, musicians and performances. In a short time, The Jazz Loft has become an incredible community space for art, history, culture and music.”

Visitors are able to view the loft’s museum exhibits featuring greats such as saxophonist Louis Jordan, the biggest African-American star of the 1940s and a massive influence on the ensuing rock ’n’ roll era; heartthrob blues and jazz crooner Arthur Prysock; upright bassist Lloyd Trotman, a prolific session musician who provided the bass line on Ben E. King’s anthem, “Stand by Me”; society bandleader Lester Lanin; and the seafaring vibraphonist and composer Teddy Charles.

Jean Prysock, of Searingtown, donated the memorabilia of her late husband Arthur Prysock, who played the top theaters and clubs from the 1940s onward and recorded for labels such as Decca, Mercury, Old Town and MGM-Verve. Why did she feel Manuel was worthy of support?

“He was young, he was enthusiastic, he was dedicated, he was sincere,” she said. “I first met him at a jazz bar in Patchogue. He led an 11-piece band, which sounded as if it could have played at New York’s Paramount Theatre.”

Apart from conducting bands, Manuel is an expert trumpet player, who credits among his inspirations Chet Baker, Warren Vache, Bobby Hackett, Harry “Sweets” Edison and Roy Eldridge. As an indication of the Jazz Loft’s authentic atmosphere, Manuel said the impressive three-tier bandstand was constructed from the original dance floor of the famed Roseland Ballroom on New York’s 52nd Street, adding, “It was an extreme labor of love, but certainly worth the effort.”

Manuel has directed a full program at The Jazz Loft while holding an adjunct post at Suffolk County Community College and a faculty position with Stony Brook University directing the jazz program of the Pre-College Music Division. If that’s not all, he has recently completed his doctorate, a DMA in jazz performance, at SBU and carried out charity work in Haiti.

“Tom is fully deserving of this award, not only for creating The Jazz Loft and making jazz available in our area, but also because of his remarkable spirit in bettering every community with which he engages,” Perry Goldstein, professor and chair at SBU’s Department of Music, said.

Tom Manuel (white hat at center) on opening day at The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, on May 21 of this year. Photo by John Broven

“He motivated seven volunteers to go to Haiti with him after the recent hurricane, where they distributed 200 pairs of sneakers, clothing and school supplies purchased through donations. Tom radiates positive energy in everything he does,” Goldstein said.

Manuel readily acknowledges the help of others in giving liftoff to The Jazz Loft, including board members Laura Vogelsberg and Laura Stiegelmaier, many musicians and sponsors Harlan and Olivia Fischer who “donated our sound system, which is quite outstanding.” Manuel’s philosophy is summarized by the title of his well-received talk at the Three Village Community Trust’s annual celebration, held at The Jazz Loft in November: “Collaboration: The Art of Possibility.”

The jazz facility is housed in a historic building, comprising the old Stone Jug tavern and the former firehouse station, which accommodated the first museum in Stony Brook, founded in 1935 by real estate broker and insurance agent O.C. Lempfert. With the backing of Ward and Dorothy Melville, the museum was formally incorporated as the Suffolk Museum in 1939 before evolving into today’s The Long Island Museum. The renovated building, which was accorded landmark status by the Town of Brookhaven in September, is leased long term to The Jazz Loft by The Ward Melville Heritage Organization.

“Tom Manuel is a unique individual who was born into a generation of musicians steeped in rock ’n’ roll, rap and new wave,” Gloria Rocchio, president of WMHO, said. “I got to know Tom because of a[n] … article about a ‘young man’ with a house full of artifacts and memorabilia relating to the jazz era. The Ward Melville Heritage Organization owned a vacant building … and Tom had a collection in need of a home. A year later The Jazz Loft opened in Stony Brook, where Tom shares his love of jazz with like-minded musicians and fans. Tom is truly a role model for the concept of accomplishing your dream through passion and dedication. We are proud to welcome The Jazz Loft and Dr. Tom Manuel into our community.”

The members of Kodiak who just performed at the Paramount in Huntington last weekend. Photo from Rich Orofino

At the Paramount last weekend, what came before the headliner was almost more impressive.

Northport-based band Kodiak performed on the Huntington stage for the first time that night, opening for Billy Joel cover band Big Shot on Saturday, Feb. 27, and the teens rocked the house.

Before the show last weekend, Kodiak had played mostly open mic nights at their high school and some local bars around Northport, according to songwriter and lead singer Rich Orofino, 17.

In an interview at Orofino’s family home Monday, he and lead guitarist Matt Louis, 16, reflected on their big night while also looking toward their bright future.

“People are singing our lyrics in the crowd,” Orofino said. “That’s, like, the best feeling.”

Orofino and Louis, students at Northport High School, stressed how appreciative they were for the opportunity presented by the Paramount and Big Shot to be able to play the show, which will be remembered as a milestone for Kodiak.

Drummer Jonah Cohn, 17, and bass player Jack Burns, 18, round out the group.

The band has been together for about a year. They compared the sound of their eponymous debut album, released in 2015, to the indie rock band Real Estate. They mentioned Bob Dylan, The Who and Led Zeppelin as some of the bands they listen to.

Their second album, “Romantic Rebel and the Phony Reaper,” which they expect to be done in the next month or so, will have a harder, more electric-driven sound.

Because of that shift, Louis and Orofino had a hard time pinpointing Kodiak’s genre. But they’re okay with that.

“You should never try to duplicate yourself,” Louis said of their evolving style.

Wisdom and maturity came through in shocking abundance while speaking to the guys. That maturity softened Linda Orofino to the idea of her son pursuing such a tumultuous and uncertain career as a musician, a few decades after her husband took his shot at stardom and fell short.

“I did not want my son to be a musician,” his mother said. But his dedication and talent have proved her wrong, she said. Her husband is proud too, she added, when he hears Kodiak perform.

Orofino estimated that he has written about 230 songs, and while he couldn’t name a favorite at first, he settled on “Embers,” off their first album, after some deliberation.

Orofino and Louis both said that music is their one and only priority right now. They don’t have other hobbies — this is all they’ve ever wanted to be.

“I’ve been writing songs since ninth grade,” Orofino said. “In tenth grade one of my best friends put my name down on an open mic list at the school and I just stepped on stage and played two of my songs and I got a standing ovation. That was, like, the greatest feeling on Earth and I just never wanted to not be on a stage from that point on.”

Lead singer Rich Orofino sings as Matt Louis plays during their performance at the Huntington venue. Photo from Rich Orofino
Lead singer Rich Orofino sings as Matt Louis plays during their performance at the Huntington venue. Photo from Rich Orofino

Anyone who has spent time in Northport could understand how artists from there find inspiration.

“There’s so much Northport in our music,” Louis said.

Orofino fully endorsed that sentiment. “There’s literally an osprey’s nest we sing about,” he said, motioning toward the back door of the home, which looks out on the Long Island Sound.

Kodiak will be playing a two-hour show at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in downtown Northport Village sometime in March or April, as a fundraiser for a Northport food pantry. The date has not yet been determined.

Visit them online at www.kodiakband.bandcamp.com to hear their music or find out about future Kodiak shows.

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