thoughts and media by Ali Abdallah_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


A small group of musicians play on a busy street corner in Harlem.

There was a small box for donations, of course, but these folks seemed to have a dedicated local audience bobbing their heads to the rhythms and mellow trumpet. A lot less contrived then the two-bit guitarists strumming sappy love songs in central park, that's for sure. I could not resist the opportunity to join them when one of drummers had to go take care of something. I figured I had nothing to lose and politely asked the trumpeter if I could sit in. He said yes, but understandably with a sort of reluctance. Once I actually started playing I could tell he hadn't regretted his decision. These guys obviously had been playing for years, but they were also free and communicated in that way great jazz musicians do when playing together. It's not always about how well you can play the notes or perfectly you play, it's about how you talk to the guy next to you by using your instrument. I was definitely thrilled to take part, even if for just a few minutes. The drummer eventually came back...
Every Saturday there is a large gathering of musicians in Marcus Garvey Park. If the weather holds up like it has been, I am sure it will be happening again this weekend. I found an interesting article that provides some history as well as some comment on the conflicts the informal event has faced in an increasingly gentrified Harlem.
"Marcus Garvey Park: An Old Sound in Harlem Draws New Neighbors' Ire"

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