Nearing the end of the Spring 2017 Festival, Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium said, “thank you” to their many supporters by hosting a gratis soiree of dining and entertainment at the historical Weeksville Heritage Center. Music was provided by the Dwayne Eurbanks band with gourmet-style buffet food in this cultural center fit for queens and kings.
Chairman Clarence Mosley introduced the evening’s keynote speaker – producer, reporter and jazz program host, WBGO’s Rob Crocker. Clarence described Rob’s illustrious background in detail. It was fascinating to learn that in addition to working in Holland, in the early 1990’s he relocated to Tokyo for eight years. He was very popular as a disc jockey in Tokyo at BAY-FM and FM YOKOHAMA. He was part of the starting lineup of DJs for INTER-FM, Tokyo’s first, one-man style, FM radio station. Rob Crocker has the distinction of being the longest running disc jockey in the history of jazz radio in New York City.
Brooklyn-born Crocker laid out his background in broadcasting after asking to share a bit of humor with his audience. His joke went something like this: “A plane was about to crash. There were four people and three parachutes. So one guy says, my name is Stephan Curry. I have a lot of fans. I need a parachute.” The second guy says, “I am Donald Trump, the newly-elected U.S. president. I am the smartest guy in the world. I need a parachute.” So the Pope said to the 10-year-old kid, “Your life is in front of you, so you take the last parachute.” The kid said, “Well, the world’s smartest man took my book bag.”! (This joke was actually a variation on an anonymous joke that went viral shortly after Trump won the election).
When the laughter subsided, Rob said that he is a Brooklyn boy. For him, this is truly a blessing. He can’t conceive of jazz without Brooklyn or Brooklyn without jazz. Rob spoke of the photos on the walls at WBGO. He said he knew many of the musicians personally from living in Bedford-Stuyvesant, like Max Roach and Freddie Hubbard. He said, “All of my life in Brooklyn has evolved around jazz.” Rob talked about the jazz club that flourished in the 1970’s named The East at 10 Claver Place in Brooklyn. Patrons came from all over the city to enjoy jazz giants performing at this small Bedford-Stuyvesant club. The one block street festival today known as The International African Street Festival started there. Under the late visionary activist, Jitu Weusi, the Festival grew and moved to Boys & Girls H.S. field, and eventually to where it is now, Commodore Barry Park.
Between the sets of swinging jazz by the Eubank’s band, Clarence Mosley thanked the other members of CBJC by name. CBJC Treasurer, Bessie Edwards, thanked everyone for coming to enjoy the fabulous music. She said that the NYC Council provided a grant which allowed for the evening’s Gala. Bessie then gave the names of the council members. They are Robert Cornegy, Jr., Darlene Mealy and Laurie Cumbo, who makes sure they have the necessary proceeds of varying amounts, every year. Bessie ended by asking everyone to enjoy the evening.
Board chairman, Clarence Mosley, spoke about the mission of CBJC to recognize the contributions of artists and the role they play in advancing the culture. Clarence said, “We have been given the responsibility of seeing that this music is not erased from our history.
Clarence introduced Weeksville’s Operations Assistant, Stephanye Watts. Stephanye said, “Weeksville is steeped in history, and jazz has been there for so much of that history here in central Brooklyn. We hope to see you, not just once a year, but throughout the year.” She spoke of the free activities hosted by Weeksville, i.e. historical house tours, dance classes (zumba, yoga, aerobics, line dancing) on Saturdays 12 to 6:00 PM.
Supporters of CBJC were named by Clarence. These are just a few: BR Edwards Associates Real Estate, Brownstone Jazz, Desserts by Michael Allan, Emmanuel Baptist Church, James United Methodist Church, Lafayette Presbyterian Church, Long Life Referral Network, PLGA, Williamsburg Music Center, Woodie Woods Workin’ Music, Upover Jazz Productions, Welancora Gallery, Pure Jazz Magazine, and United Music Makers.
Remembering the shoulders CBJC stands on, late founding member Jitu Weusi and Harold Valle were named as the impetus behind this Consortium, and Clarence asked that they be kept alive in our memories.
Thanks should be given to Bob Myers, CBJC Communications Director. He does an outstanding job sending out the CBJC calendar of events all year long, and plays a big part for the large Gala turnout. Thank you Bob!
For more information on NYC’s longest running grass roots Festival for jazz, and to HELP KEEP JAZZ ALIVE, contact www.CBJCjazz.org or call 718-773-2252, Ext. 103. You can also mail your check to: Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, 1958 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11233.