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The Jazz Loft

With much regret, Gallery North, the Three Village Historical Society, and the Jazz Loft are canceling the Holiday Markets scheduled for Nov. 28, Dec. 5, 12 and 19. “After closely monitoring the news regarding the renewed spread of COVID-19, we feel strongly that avoiding this sizable public event is advisable at this time. Gallery North, the Three Village Historical Society, and the Jazz Loft all remain committed to the health and safety of our community, and do apologize for any inconvenience. We would like to thank all our sponsors for their support and all the artists, makers, and entrepreneurs who expressed interest in this holiday event,” they said in a statement.

By Melissa Arnold

The holiday season is fast approaching, and it’s time to start thinking about that shopping list. But before you visit those online retailers and big box stores, consider supporting local businesses hit hard by this year’s closures and safety restrictions.

In the Three Village area, Gallery North has teamed up with their neighbors at The Jazz Loft and Three Village Historical Society for a festive holiday experience that has a little something for everyone on your list.

Each year, Gallery North celebrates local artists with Deck the Halls, a group exhibit and art sale. Now through Dec. 20, visitors can admire the work of more than 70 artists covering a variety of subjects and media. The sale includes over 100 pieces of art, with a range of prices making it easy to find a unique gift that fits any budget.

This year, Gallery North executive director Ned Puchner was eager to put together a larger, yet safe and festive event that could bring the community together again.

“Frankly, a lot of people are still understandably concerned about going out and shopping,” said Puchner. “We had a lot of success with the Farmers and Makers Markets over the summer, and one of our board members joked that while she didn’t do hot weather, she’d volunteer in a heartbeat for a winter event.”

The idea grew from there. Puchner reached out to Steve Healy, president of the Three Village Historical Society, and Tom Manuel, founder of The Jazz Loft, brainstorming ways they could collaborate.

They were inspired by the beautiful, timeless holiday markets in New York City, and decided to transform the historical society grounds into a marketplace of their own. The outdoor marketplace will open for four Saturdays after Thanksgiving, allowing local artists and vendors to set up shop in a festively decorated atmosphere.

Browse the gallery store for paintings, photography and sculptures, then shop outdoors for handcrafted pottery, jewelry, wood and metal creations, clothing, glassware, spice blends and much more.

Along the way, grab a bite to eat and some dessert or warm up with a hot drink from local food trucks.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve been encouraging people to shop local and support local businesses as much as possible, because everyone is struggling. We can’t help everyone, but we all have ways we can chip in,” said Healy. “[The local organizations] have a great rapport, and we’re always looking for new ways that we can support one another.”

The Jazz Loft’s Equity Brass Band will perform a wide selection of New Orleans jazz standards along with jazzed-up versions of holiday classics. You’ll find them playing in their tent and parading through the grounds on market days as weather permits.

Over the summer, you may have seen the band marching through the streets on one of their Spirit Tours — musical appearances meant to uplift the community and provide cultural enrichment in a time where entertainment has been difficult, if not impossible.

“There’s been a blessing in all this — because we [musicians] are all out of work, people that normally don’t have the time to come and work with us are suddenly free. We’ve had great camaraderie develop from this experience,” Manuel said. “Jazz has always been the soundtrack of America. People have come up to us extremely moved to hear music after being cut off from art for nearly a year.”

At the core of the exhibit and holiday market is the desire to bring a little normalcy and good cheer to the season.

“It’ll give you a little taste of the holiday season while keeping people safe and socially distanced. It also supports local artists, musicians, chefs and entrepreneurs during a time that has been devastating for people who earn their livelihoods performing and creating,” Puchner said. “We want to renew our connection with the community and restore a spirit of togetherness. We’re all still here.”

The Deck the Halls exhibit is on display through Dec. 20 at Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. A virtual reception will be held via Zoom on Nov. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Participating artists for the Deck the Halls exhibit include:

Lucia Alberti, Kelynn Alder, Andrea Baatz, Fred Badalamenti, Steve Behler, John Benevento, Joan Branca, Sheila Breck, Nancy Bueti Randall, Natalie Butkevich, Esther Marie Caponigro, Donna Carey-Zucker, Joseph Cooke, Jody Cukier, Linda Davidson-Mathues, Julie Doczi, Daniel Donato, Michael Drakopoulos, Paul Edelson, Patty Eljaiek, Lily Farah, Meagan Flaherty, Kimberly Gerber, Ray Germann, Helaine Goldberg, Holly Gordon, Larissa Grass, Jan Guarino, Anne Katz, Marceil Kazickas, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Julianna Kirk, Randy Kraft, Barron Krody, Jillian Kron, Charles Lembo, LOVID, Mary Lor, Kathleen Massi, Michael McLaughlin, Meagan Meehan, Eleanor Meier, Olivia Menghini, Jim Molloy, Riley Mulligan, Annette Napolitano, Rhoda Needlman PSA, Gail Neuman, Susan Oliverio, Cynthia Parry, Mel Pekarsky, Alicia R. Peterson, Doug Reina, Brianna Sander, Oscar Santiago, Lori Scarlatos, Kate Schwarting, James Slezak, Judith Stone, Angela Stratton, Schery Markee Sullivan, Paul Thomas, Joanne Touch, Joe Ventimiglia, Mary Waka, Marlene Weinstein, Gil Yang, Patricia Yantz, Nicole Zinerco, and Stanley Zucker.

The Holiday Market will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 28, Dec. 5, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19 on the grounds of the Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Road, Setauket and Gallery North. Please note: Masks and social distancing will be required, and there will be no public restrooms.

For questions about the market or to register as a vendor, call 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org/holiday-market.

 

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The historic building that houses The Jazz Loft on Christian Avenue in Stony Brook. Photo from WMHO

Tom Manuel, founder of The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, is always grateful when someone comes along and offers a helping hand, but during the pandemic, his gratitude is overflowing.

The Old Stone Jug, above, prior to being moved to its current site in 1940. Photo from Tom Manuel

Before New York State’s mandatory shutdowns, the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation awarded The Jazz Loft a grant in the amount of $40,000 to match funds coming from local resident and patron Dan Oliveri.

The money is being used to renovate the southwest section of the basement, which is under the Old Stone Jug area of the venue. The undertaken has been dubbed Project Coal Bin, Manuel said. While the basement dates back to 1941, the Old Stone Jug was built in approximately 1770. The grant also covers equipment needed to archive information.

“What’s exciting is it’s going to be a multipurpose space where the grant was designed not just to redesign the space but to outfit it as an area that will be used for our archiving,” The Jazz Loft founder said.

He added that the Stony Brook University Department of Computer Science worked last year to design the computer programming for the archiving, which will open up doors for other grants in the future for additional archiving and preservation.

“It’s amazing how a group like the Gardiner foundation could allow so many great things to happen even indirectly after their grant is done,” he said.

He called RDLGF a lifeline for nonprofits and a “blessing for people on Long Island.” The admiration is mutual.

Kathryn Curran, right, and The Jazz Loft founder Tom Manuel, left, in the Count Basie Garden. Photo from Tom Manuel

“The Jazz Loft is an exceptional organization that engages the community on many levels,” said Kathryn Curran, executive director of the RDLGF. “The adaptive reuse of their historic building brings new and inventive life to this early structure celebrating the history of jazz through performances and art and artifacts.”

While the grant process was lengthy, Manuel said it was an excellent experience for him where before the pandemic he sat in on a grant-writing workshop given by Curran, and was able to exchange ideas with others. He said it was inspiring to learn about grants and the bigger picture of the longevity of nonprofits and the history of Long Island.

“After a while you realize, wow, it’s not so much about me writing this grant anymore,” he said. “It’s about The Jazz Loft being here for 100 years. This is about being responsible with what has been entrusted to me.”

Manuel also praised RDLGF for the funds they granted to nonprofits during the pandemic. Curran said the board was aware of the new problems nonprofits faced in 2020, and in June the board members approved a limited reimbursement grant to historical societies. The grants were intended to help organizations cover expenses during unscheduled closings. In total, RDLGF awarded more than $63,000 to help pay bills over a three-month period.

As for Project Coal Bin, Manuel said work began a couple of months ago. He indicated before major construction could begin, the old drop ceiling had to be removed in the section of the basement, while the plumbing and the electrical system needed to be updated. Manuel said when a person is downstairs and looks up, the hand-hewn beams of the Old Stone Jug are now visible after 80 years following the removal of a plaster ceiling.

The section of The Jazz Loft is called the Old Stone Jug due to its facade and was added by philanthropist Ward Melville, who moved the structure from its original location and made it an addition to what was once the original Stony Brook firehouse. It was then used as the Suffolk Museum, the forerunner of The Long Island Museum. Before it was moved, the Old Stone Jug, through the decades, was utilized for town meetings, operated as a tin shop and was used to store molasses jugs.

Manuel said they named the new section of the basement the Coal Bin after a former establishment in Southampton called Bowden Square. The owner Herb McCarthy’s mother would cook southern food and play jazz music for Black patrons in the basement, called the Coal Bin, during a time when Southampton was segregated.

Manuel said renovations in The Jazz Loft basement are projected to be completed before the end of the year.

Harlan Fischer, above, stands by two of several pieces of artwork displayed in his Setauket office. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Setauket recently welcomed a new financial services office to the area, but the company’s president is no stranger to the Three Village community.

Fischer along with his Branch Financial Services associates Stephanie Gress and Kristen Domiano. Photo from Branch Financial Services

Harlan Fischer, president of Branch Financial Services, recently moved his offices from Smithtown to Setauket. His business, which was located on Route 111 for 25 years, and before that, for 21 years in Hauppauge, has now found a home at 21 Bennetts Road.

The Head of the Harbor resident and his wife of almost 47 years, Olivia, are known for their involvement in the art community across the North Shore, and both are familiar names at The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook. For the past three years, the couple has sponsored a monthly concert series at the music venue and museum, which is currently closed due to the coronavirus.

Loft founder Tom Manuel said the Fischers were its first donors. The musician still remembers the day in 2015 when he was in Stony Brook village performing to raise money for the renovation of the venue’s future home. He said a man with a dog walked up to him and they began talking about jazz. The man turned out to be Fischer.

“I was just thinking, ‘Wow, how interesting that there’s this guy that kind of digs what we’re trying to do,’” Manuel said. “Little did I know he’d already read about us, and he came there on purpose. I just thought he was passing by.”

He said Fischer gave him an envelope with a check inside, but Manuel didn’t open it until he was home, thinking it was maybe worth $50. Later he opened the envelope and found the check was for $1,000.

“My eyes were as big as saucers,” he said.

The Jazz Loft founder said that with Fischer’s interest in jazz and the couple’s love of art, the venue is a perfect match for them.

“They’re doing it because it’s a passion,” he said. “It’s not just that they’re looking for a place to make a tax-deductible donation.”

Fischer and his wife’s philanthropy goes beyond The Jazz Loft. While the financial adviser spends the day discussing finances with clients — people from all over Long Island as well as 26 states — his interests lie elsewhere when the workday has ended. Both he and Olivia through the decades have developed a shared love of art.

Fischer said, for him, it began after a 1988 car accident when he was hit by a drunk driver. He realized he could have been killed, and up until that point his life was mostly about work.

“All of a sudden it got me in touch with my mortality,” he said.

“All of a sudden it got me in touch with my mortality.”

— Harlan Fischer

He was talking to his physical therapist who told him about the Rotary club. Not only did he join the organization, but he also went on to become the president of Smithtown Rotary from 1997to 98. Through the Rotary he became involved in various community projects, but when a friend told him how the Smithtown Township Arts Council was looking for a board member, that’s when he found one of his true passions. Fischer told his friend he knew nothing about art, but it turned out the board was looking for a businessperson like him. Fischer decided to join and a year later became its president.

During his five-year tenure, he said he learned a lot about art, thanks to Norma Cohen, who was director of the council back then. He and his wife began collecting artwork, especially contemporary studio art glass pieces that fill the couple’s Head of the Harbor home.

Olivia Fischer said the couple’s interest in art grew together and the two began raising money for various organizations, including hosting fundraisers in their home.

Through the years, the Fischers have been members of many art organizations as well as sponsored many events. Among their philanthropic activities have been being members of The Long Island Museum’s Directors Advisory Circle and sponsoring the East End Arts Music Masters Mentorship Program for high schoolers. The financial adviser is also a former board president of the Art League of Long Island, and in 2000, he was named The Times of Smithtown Man of the Year in Business.

In addition to their work in the world of the arts, the Fischers have rescued dogs and are in the process of adopting their 11th one. In late 2018, the Town of Smithtown recognized them for their $7,600 donation which enabled the Smithtown Animal Shelter to build a dog park that bears their name, the Olivia and Harlan Fischer Recreational and Development Park. The Fischers have also backed Little Shelter Animal Rescue’s annual Pet-A-Palooza in Huntington.

Fischer, who is in his early 70s, said he feels 10 years younger and has no plans to retire, especially in his new office that features some of his art collection. He added that he’s fortunate to work with good people too, which helps with leading a busy life.

“I can’t ask for more than that,” he said.

Success and enjoyment in life are something he believes people find when they feel passionate about what they are doing. He also believes in good timing, which has become a common theme in his life not only with finding ways to give back but also in his career life.

After spending four years in the Air Force and almost a year in Vietnam, he wound up in retail despite having an engineering degree from Northeastern University. He was running the Levitz Furniture & Showroom in Farmingdale when he told someone he no longer wanted to be in retail, and it was recommended he consider the financial field.

“Timing is everything in life,” he said. “Just being at the right place at the right time and saying the right thing. You make a right turn instead of a left turn, your whole life can be different.”

Photo from Ray Anderson

By Leah Chiappino

Setauket resident and jazz musician, Ray Anderson, is celebrating a career that has been nothing but noteworthy. And at a performance at The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook Oct. 25, music lovers will get a taste of his talent and be able to witness the launch of his archives there.

Photo by Erika Kapin

The trombonist, 67, first picked up his instrument at the age of 8, after having been inspired partly by his theologian father’s jazz records that predominantly featured the famous trumpet player, Louis Armstrong. The sound of Anderson’s chosen instrument was something that he found appealing, especially since, he said, the musicians playing trombone sounded like they were having fun.

He studied music at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools with future trombone legends such as George Lewis and was taught by Frank Tirro, the future dean of the Yale School of Music.

Anderson attended three different universities, three different times, before eventually receiving a bachelor’s degree from Empire State College in Saratoga Springs in 2010.

“I’m self-educated in a lot of ways,” he said. “Performing became my education.”

He moved to Los Angeles in 1971 to attend the California Institute of the Arts, only to find the campus was not yet open. He wound up living with Stanley Crouch, a black writer and jazz critic, frequently known for his controversial views amongst the African American community on his disillusionment with the Black Power movement.

While attending college in Minnesota and Los Angeles, he played in R&B bands and joined funk and Latin bands while living in San Francisco. While Anderson looks back with great fondness on his days where he became “moderately successful” working odd jobs and playing music in San Francisco, he said he felt the urge to discover the New York music scene, so he moved to Manhattan in 1973.

“I was 20 years old and had no real roots anywhere,” he said. “I figured I would move to New York and see what happened.”

He performed with clarinetist and saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre and drummer Barry Altschul while playing with composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton’s quartet for three years. He has since performed in a variety of his own bands, such as the Pocket Brass Band and Lapis Lazuli band.

Anderson recently returned from a European tour with BassDrumBone, a band named after its bass, drums, trombone players. He started the group in 1977 with his friends bassist Mark Helias and drummer Gerry Hemingway. It has been running ever since.

“I’ve learned so much from both of them,” he said. “They’re my age so it’s not a traditional teacher-student type of thing, but they’re both really, really wise.”

His first feature album was blues guitarist Luther Allison’s “Night Life,” before recording for Gramavision, as well as European record label Enja and others.

“I didn’t have a career where I worked as a member of a more established senior band, so I learned a lot from my contemporaries,” he said.

Anderson said he recently recorded a solo trombone piece based off of a solo performance he did in France and is currently in the process of sending it to record companies.

“That’s been a longtime dream,” he said.

Anderson describes his style as “witty” and “challenging,” and he acknowledges and respects the players who have come before him

Yet, having composed more than 100 pieces, Anderson has learned to take a lighthearted approach to music with songs titled “If I Ever Had a Home It Was a Slide Trombone,” and “Raven-a-Ning,” the latter piece being composed for his son, Raven, and a play on the classic “Rhythm-a-Ning” by Thelonious Monk.

While his calm and joyous approach to life is evident in conversation, he had to overcome tragedy when his wife, lyricist and poet, Jackie Raven, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 and passed away in 2002.

“I had two young motherless kids and my life as a touring musician had to stop,” he said.

Photo by Ssirus Pakzad

Anderson was the artist in residence at Stony Brook University for six months in 2001, and in 2003 was appointed director of jazz studies, a title he has held ever since.

“It enabled me to stay home, pay the bills and care for my kids who were 11 and 15 when she died,” he said. “I’m sure you can appreciate why I’m boundlessly grateful to this community for all it has given me over these many years.”

Anderson reports that both his kids are doing well and he got remarried last year, to Suzy Goodspeed.

The musician said his many years as a full-time performer make him the perfect candidate to mentor emerging musicians.

“I’m a performer first and teacher second,” he said. “I know what music feels like when you’re actually doing it.”

Anderson said his life as a performer doesn’t dismay his love for teaching.

“It’s so rewarding to be able to pass something on that’s useful,” he said. “It’s really tied in with the whole idea of trying to pay it forward because so many people gave me so much [mentorship].”

All of the courses he teaches revolve around performing. In the graduate program, he plays with students in a band and requires them to write their own music.

“We go through the process of editing and revising, and trying to find out what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

Tom Manuel, The Jazz Loft’s president and founder, praised Anderson’s impact in the jazz field.

“I think what makes Ray so important to jazz is not just that he’s amazingly talented in the world of jazz, but he has been recognized as one of those incredibly and creative inventive voices that is creating something that is new, which is hard to do,” he said.

Anderson will be performing at The Jazz Loft, where he serves as vice president, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. with his Pocket Brass Band, consisting of just trumpet, trombone, sousaphone and drums.

“I’ve played a lot of big gigs, and it’s really exciting to be in an audience of thousands of people, but playing in a small place like The Jazz Loft is often better because of the intimacy between the audience and the band,” he said.

Friday’s performance will be preceded by the launch of the Ray Anderson Archives exhibit with a reception at the venue at 6 p.m.

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The Jazz Loft recently acquired bandleader Xavier Cugat’s musical collection. Photo by Rita J. Egan

A St. James resident’s inheritance has become a treasure for a local museum and music venue.

Among the museum’s current exhibits are singer Keely Smith items. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Recently, John Diana, a periodontist and clinical assistant professor at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine in the Department of Periodontology, donated the musical archives of renowned bandleader Xavier Cugat to The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook. Tom Manuel, the Loft’s founder, said the collection contains many of Cugat’s original manuscripts.

Manuel added that manuscripts like the newly acquired ones include various musical notations.

“That’s incredibly important because that means the music can be performed again, and that means, in many ways, the music can live on,” he said.

Diana is the only child of Robert W. Kasha, who was the pianist in the Sammy Kaye orchestra in the 1940s and ’50s. He said his father went on to become vice president of Willard Alexander Inc., and the theatrical agency had many of the big bands on contract. When Kasha met Cugat, he made an offer to purchase the bandleader’s name, music and rights to the band, and Cugat accepted the offer.

The periodontist said his mother, who used the stage name Ada Cavallo, was a singer, and she became the conductor of the band after his father gained the rights.

“Also, being Latina, she instilled the Latin rhythm required of a Latin band,” Diana said.

His father would play piano in the ensemble, and the New Xavier Cugat Orchestra was together for nearly 20 years, according to Diana. He said his parents traveled with the group numerous times to Japan, and both were inducted into the Big Band Hall of Fame in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Diana said his wife, Kathleen, was the one who suggested he contact The Jazz Loft to see if they would accept the Cugat material.

“Tom, from The Jazz Loft, was more than kind in accepting the music, and many of the exhibits in his museum were from bands and musicians that my dad booked and knew personally,” Diana said. “I feel, and I believe my folks would feel, that the music found a good home.”

Manuel said there aren’t many places like The Jazz Loft with a museum and educational component, and many people have reached out to them about musical archives they own but no longer have room for in their homes.

The Jazz Loft recently acquired trombonist Benny Powell’s musical archives. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“It’s really amazing that we’re getting these incredibly important — historically important — collections,” he said.

Manuel said every collection is different and may include not only manuscripts, but also photographs, receipts, date books, tour schedules, instruments and more.

Some of the collections The Jazz Loft has acquired through the years have been from jazz trombonists Ray Anderson and Benny Powell and jazz and pop singer Keely Smith. The museum currently has the collection of piano player Jack Wilson on display to coincide with its July tribute to the entertainer.

The collections are rotated throughout the year in The Jazz Loft museum because it would be impossible to display everything at the same time, Manuel said. In October Anderson’s collection will be on display and the trombonist will also be performing at the venue. Next year Manuel plans to display the Benny Powell and Xavier Cugat exhibits.

Manuel said some of his favorite pieces from the Cugat collection include manuscripts that were written while the bandleader was in Cuba, parts are in Spanish, and the paper was made in Cuba.

Diana also had his favorite pieces.

“Being of Latino heritage, I enjoyed it all, but my favorite piece was a newer version of the ‘Peter Gunn’ theme, and from dad’s personal piano archives, his rendition of the classic ‘Laura,’” Diana said.

The Jazz Loft crew will begin sorting through the material from the Cugat collection. Manuel said first everything must be entered into a computer and initially placed in an envelope. Once the memorabilia are grouped together and categorized, the items will be put in archival boxes to help keep them preserved.

The Three Village Historical Society, in collaboration with The Jazz Loft,  hosted the 3rd annual Prohibition Night on June 21. This year’s theme, An Evening of Booze and Bootlegging, began with a mock funeral in the tradition of businesses, including at least one funeral parlor, that also functioned as speakeasies during Prohibition. The eulogy for John Barleycorn had heads bowed and hearts pumping. Then Tom Manuel and The Hot Peppers got feet tapping with jazz music of the era. It was a fun evening enjoyed by flappers and fellas alike. Planning for Prohibition Night 2020 is already underway!

Photos by Coleen Higgins

From left, Maryanne Vigneaux, Frank Turano, Holly Griesel and Orlando Maione at last year’s event. Photo by Anthony White/ Three Village Historical Society

By David Luces

There’s something about the 1920s that to this day many people are fascinated by. Life during that time seemed like one big party. The Three Village Historical Society and The Jazz Loft plan to bring some of the magic of the time period back for its third annual Prohibition Night fundraiser on June 21.

This year’s theme, titled Booze, Bootlegging and Jazz!!!, will have an emphasis on  bootlegging and speakeasies, also known as blind pigs.

“We’ve been collaborating with the historical society for the past two years [on this event] and I think we’ve hit it out of the park,” Tom Manuel of The Jazz Loft said. “For this year we thought what can we do better.”

Guests will be attending a mock funeral service and given a pass code to access a secret back room party filled with booze and jazz music. The historical society will have a Prohibition era bootlegging exhibit set up where guests can peruse old photos and other items from the time period.

“We really want to try to bring some of that history to life,” explained Manuel.

Tara Ebrahimian, education and volunteer coordinator for the historical society, spent weeks researching the Prohibition era and bootlegging as well as Long Island’s history during the 1920s. In a recent interview, she said her inspiration for the mock funeral came from reading accounts of actual funeral homes having speakeasies and parties in the back of their buildings.

“We want [the event] to be historically accurate,” she said. “We wanted to make this scene for the guests,” she added. “Like you’re stepping into this world, we want them to be fully immersed.”

Ebrahimian also researched how people spoke back in the 1920s and the lingo used during Prohibition. Re-enactors from Theatre Three in Port Jefferson will be on hand to aid in the immersive experience and will be acting as if they were from that time period.

Sandy White, office manager at the historical society, said she is excited for this year’s event. “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she said, adding that there will be a garden bar for guests with beer donated by Sunrise Ales and Lagers.

Steve Healy, president of the historical society, said the event is a great way to incorporate history and jazz music in a fun setting.“We want to make history interesting, and I think people have a soft spot for this era. There is something really fascinating about this time period,” he added.

Healy said that besides antique items from the period there will be a 1929 banana colored convertible parked outside the venue. “It’s going to be a fun night and it supports two great local nonprofits,” he said.

Just as booze and parties were synonymous with the 1920s, jazz music was just as important. Manuel’s band, The Hot Peppers, will be playing time period music from mid to late 1920s live music for guests at the event. “We want it to be authentic as possible,” explained Manuel, adding that the band will be playing with instruments that were used to make jazz music back then like the piano, guitar, clarinet and trombone among others. They will also be performing with some vintage instruments.

Manuel is grateful to the historical society for creating a wonderful partnership for the past couple of years. He said when The Jazz Loft first opened two years ago, the historical society was one of the first organizations to collaborate with them.“We wanted to partner with people in the community and each time we’ve collaborated greater and bigger things happen for the both of us.”

Guests are encouraged to dress in period attire and Manuel said he is blown away every year by how committed the guests are to dressing up for the event. “I’ve been really impressed … it has really taken a life of its own,” he said.

The Jazz Loft, located at 275 Christian Ave. in Stony Brook Village, will host the third annual Prohibition Night on Friday, June 21 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 adults, $20 seniors, $15 students. To order, call 631-751-1895 or visit www.thejazzloft.org.

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Tom Manuel, venue founder, shares firsthand account with TBR News Media

A teenager in Haiti learns how to play trombone from the Jazz Loft’s Tom Manuel. Photo by Leah Claire Borrie

By Tom Manuel

The Jazz Loft ambassadors’ annual mission to Haiti to teach children how to play instruments hit a blue note as the capital, Port-au-Prince, erupted with riots.

Elvoi, a music teacher that we had hired, shared words of wisdom with us after our trip. “Everything is OK thanks to God,” he said. “But in Haiti we live day by day, we live one day at a time.”

We had landed bright and early on a Wednesday morning, a six-person team consisting of music educators, professional musicians and an independent filmmaker from California. This was another regular trip under the banner of The Jazz Loft to continue building the music program in a school perched high atop a mountain that is making a difference in children’s lives one day at a time.

One part of The Jazz Loft’s trifecta mission is education, and we felt that our community outreach should stretch further than how we typically define community. Our definition includes thinking globally, and a partnership with True Love Missions, of Stony Brook, and their successful school in Haiti was a perfect match. Thanks to the philanthropic giving of Robert Lourie and Ivana Stolnik in addition to the generous giving which was the result of an annual fundraising concert, the Jazz Loft ambassadors embarked on their trip. Barrels of school supplies, instruments, clothing and food were shipped down in advance and the team packed as much as they could bring as well.

Tom Manuel. Photo by Leah Claire Borrie

Our days unfolded one after the next with early morning rises, hikes up and down the mountain to the school, and sometimes rides on motorbikes which rival any amusement park ride known to man. Relationships were begun or made stronger, and the universal language of music transcended that of English and native Creole. Teaching trombone was interrupted by giving out worm pills and conversations with the school principal and teachers regarding school-book needs were put on welcomed pause to feed quite hungry people. The confines of an article cannot contain nor explain the experience of a trip like this. The art of loving and being so genuinely loved in return can only be experienced by doing it.

Then 48 hours before our departure, a protest march against the Haitian government took place in Port-au-Prince. A day before our scheduled exit protests had turned to riots, and from the school high atop the mountain overlooking the city, we could see two fires that signaled something was wrong. We awoke early Monday morning, Nov. 19, ready for departure but as we assembled something was missing. The sound of Haiti had gone mute. There is an unmistakable sound of thousands of people, motorbikes, trucks and animals all joining chorus in organized chaos as the sun rises, and it had gone silent. In its stead, we heard a natural silence penetrated by the sound of vintage radios projecting singular voices speaking of riots throughout the night that had heightened. The city had been shut down. Schools and all businesses were closed. Our van was not coming, and all vehicles were banned from the roads. A call to the U.S. Embassy in Haiti signaled greater worry as it was closed.

Fearing escalation, being stuck beyond our planned time and worry over our general safety, we explored available options and were getting nowhere fast. Hours passed, our window of opportunity was quickly fading, and our final and only choices were to stay, or bribe the police to give us an armed escort to the airport. As if defying reality — because these things only happen in movies, right? — we were quickly packing ourselves into a civilian vehicle and a police truck. I wound up being the lone person in the police vehicle as there was no more room in the other vehicle. As we drove the final distance to the main drag, I thought to myself, “Am I blowing this out of proportion? Is this really necessary?”

As we hit the bottom of the street, there was an abrupt stop, and machine guns were locked and loaded, and handguns quickly appeared. We turned right, and I was amazed to see nothing but an empty street. Our speed was where the vehicle maxed out, and the sound of walkie-talkies, phones and borderline yelling filled the vehicle. The trip to the airport takes a solid hour and a half typically on a good day, and the main drag is marked by thousands of people trying to sell their wares to buyers that do not exist. Our trip that day lasted roughly 15 minutes.

Piles of debris and tires on fire occasionally blocked the road which we would veer around. Burned out vehicles and damaged abandoned police vehicles marked the journey. At one point we passed a black armored vehicle that moved down the street like a dinosaur.

A young student takes a turn with the trombone. Photo from Leah Claire Borrie

Having made this trip many times, I noticed familiar landmarks. We were getting closer and closer to the airport. The cop to my right was clicking a clave rhythm on the barrel of his gun. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was nervous or if this habit was normal. Ahead, a human-made roadblock of boulders and debris appeared causing the driver to slam on the brakes, fly into reverse and head right, the only other option available, only to be met by another roadblock.

Two police officers got out and started moving the boulders. A deafening sound, unlike any other, crescendoed and two masses of people began to converge from behind from both sides of our vehicles. It’s apparent that fear set in as the cops jumped back into the car, and we rammed whatever was left of the roadblock that couldn’t be moved.

Distance was quickly gained and this all seemed to end in an instant as we arrived at the airport and made our entrance almost seemingly under normal circumstances. Our plane took off an hour early, and within a few short hours we were home. It’s a bizarre reality, to say the least, to go from such contrasting environments in such a short period. The next days in Haiti saw increasing violence. Innocent people died. The New York Times published an article Nov. 23, but little of the drama in Haiti made it to our mainstream news.

In Haiti they live day by day. They live one day at a time. When things settle down, which they will, I will return to Haiti. I will continue to love, because in the end, even if I could move those Haitian mountains, even if somehow I could magically fix their broken and corrupt government, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. Love doesn’t rejoice about injustice but rather it rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, it never loses faith, it’s always hopeful, and it endures through every circumstance. Love makes all the difference and there are many children in a little school atop a mountain in Haiti that I love very much, and they love me. And that my friend is always worth the journey.

Tom Manuel

Making Memories with Music, a special program for people with dementia and their care partners, returns to the Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington on Aug. 27 at 11 a.m. Facilitated by Marcy Rhodes, the morning will feature a performance by The Jazz Loft Trio — Tom Manuel on cornet and vocals, Steve Salerno on guitar and Keenan Zach on double bass. Admission is $5 per person. Popcorn and beverages will be served. Registration is required by calling 631-423-7610, ext. 0.