Manhattan’s Lincoln Center was no rival for Fort Green Senior Center at 966 Fulton St. on Friday, Jan. 10, 2013. This Jazz spot which is frequented mostly by seniors every Friday night because of its high caliber of entertainers was transformed into an overflowing venue for the great Wynton Marsalis followers. The Marsalis quintet performed a series of his signature never-ending riffs at two consecutive shows, to the resounding delight of local Brooklyn residents, who showered them with repetitive standing ovations.
Jazz966 does not have the frills and trills of Lincoln Center, but the elbow to elbow comradeship and unity of spirits matched the glow of Lincoln Center. These up close and personal shows were for the people, or, as Marsalis put it,” a showcase of straight New Orleans Jazz”. This multi-talented genius went straight for the jugular with his rompy New Orleans marches to the blues and straight jazz. It kept the audiences in frenzy as he squeezed each high and low pitch note and connected them to soul stirring strings of rhythm through the masterful, yet barely noticeable, movement of his fingers. It is evident why this nine-time Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize winner has a statue erected in France.
Sam Pinn, chair of Fort Green Council Inc., said that through his networking he was able to get Marsalis to perform at Jazz966 for the first time, in 2002. Friday’s performance was his fourth at the Senior Center, which for 20 years has had jazz programs in session. To effervesce this real down home feeling, there was Dan Nimmer on the Baby Grand piano, Carlos Henrique on Bass, Walter Brandy Jr. on Saxophone and Ali Jackson on drums. Marsalis, whose father was a Jazz musician, said his” father had a great influence on his musical life during his early years” and he understands the need to expose children to this type of music. He still takes his Jazz into many Public Schools as a means of introducing children to this form of music. Rasheed Thorn, a 19-year-old student at Manhattan New School Jazz, was excited about Marsalis taking time to talk to him and give him some sound advice. Rasheed said he was “nervous meeting him because he is the great Marsalis, but his suggestions were immeasurable.”
The downstairs African Market, which was organized by Ollie McClean, director of Sankofa International Academy, was an added attraction. Local vendors had an opportunity to display their African Diaspora merchandise, which attracted the crowd. There was something for everyone. The rainy weather did not dampen the warmth and satisfaction derived from the evening at Jazz966. Patrons left with smiles on their faces having just mingled with the great Wynton Marsalis in their own backyard.