A Brownsville Heritage House Concert


Left, saxophone king Bill Saxton and on the right on trumpet is Philip Harper. Photo: Guerrilla Journalism

Haven’t you heard?

“The Word On The Street Ensemble,” a jazz collection of world-class artists play the Brownsville Heritage House every third Saturday of the month.

Over the past four years, audiences have been thrilled by the music of Ed Stoute, Bob Cunningham, Philip Harper, Alex Lane, Eric Wyatt, and Vincent Chauncey.

Headlining often is tenor great Bill Saxton who just returned from playing concerts in Russia. The free concerts are from 3-6 p.m. The artists perform treats, before 40 to 75 fans such as “Old Black Magic in b flat,” Duke Ellington’s “I’m Just A Lucky So ‘n So,” and Philip Harper and Bill Saxton solos on Billie Holiday’s “You’ll Change.”

The audience also get to select. There’s delicious food and beverages during the intermission portion of the afternoon.

Pianist, Roy Meriweather, tinkled the ivories on one recent afternoon;  he’s a major constant.

Alex Gressel, Sylvia Cuenca and Michael Roby are on bass, drums, and trombone, respectively, completing the fabulous sextet. The Jazz Foundation of America has sponsored these dates since inception. That collaboration was cemented by the late director, Patricia Dean and the late drummer, Wade Barnes.

Not to be missed is the April 15th concert date at the Heritage House. The Heritage House component is the only jazz line-up featured in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York, and its April segment is calendared on the Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival that runs mid-April through mid-May.

The Heritage House is a not-for-profit housed on the 2nd floor of the Stone Avenue branch library and offers a step back in time. Rich with cultural artifacts and historical context, it schedules various programs for all ages.

The business card of Miriam Robertson, director of Heritage House declares “Teach the Youth the Truth.” Indeed. Some current programs include, “Power in the Pen,” and “Two-Hand Hand Touch Football Youth Club.”

Heritage House has an interesting history as the bio on its website informs:

Rosetta Gaston is the founder and visionary of Brownsville Heritage House, Inc. (BHH). She envisioned an educational and cultural center for young and old, which would spark individual and community achievements by focusing on a common heritage.

Mother Gaston, as she was affectionately known, realized early on that the one element missing in our community was the knowledge of our culture. She decided to do something about it. In 1969 she started the Children’s Cultural Corner out of her home, where she taught young minds about their culture and history. This laid the foundation for BHH, Inc.

U.S. Congressman Edolphus Towns was instrumental in acquiring the second floor space above the Stone Avenue Branch Library. It was the fruition of a 50 year dream. Mother Gaston at age 96 transitioned a month before BHH opened its doors in March 1981.

That same year Stone Avenue renamed Mother Gaston Boulevard, which runs from Broadway to Linden Boulevard, covering the communities of Ocean-Hill and Brownsville. Thanks to then Councilman Enoch Williams who introduced the bill to former Mayor David Dinkins. Rosetta Gaston’s name will live on forever as an educator and a devoted leader of her community.

For more: Brownsville Heritage House, 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11212

Tel: (718) 385-1111, fax (718) 385-1113







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