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Astoria Big Band Takes its Jazz to Sunnyside Saturday


May 10, 2013 By Bill Parry

Sunnyside, Queens: The free music concert series at the Sunnyside Reformed Church (48-03 Skillman Ave.) resumes Saturday night with the return of Carol Sudhalter and her Astoria Big Band.

The well traveled jazz band, which will play at 7pm, has been together since 1986 and has performed at the Sunnyside Reformed Church before.

“Carol was the first to perform here back in 2010,” said Pastor Neil Margetson. “She inspired the whole music series, so it’s a homecoming in a musical sense.”

Sudhalter, the band’s founder and director, recently received two grants to produce a tribute to three jazz legends from her home borough of Queens: Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Big Nick Nicholas. This will be the debut concert of that tribute.

“It’s the ideal place to do the concert,” Sudhalter said. “It’s just perfect in every way from the performance space to the acoustics.”

The 16-piece band will feature world famous composer and multi-instrumentalist David Amram, who is also known for his collaborations with Jack Kerouac.

The group’s 97-year old tenor Fred Staton is unable to perform because of a fall; however, the band will feature a blind vocalist named Frank Senior. “He’s a really interesting vocalist.  You won’t believe his voice,” Sudhalter said.

Sudhalter will be playing the saxophone and flute. She was ranked 9th  in the Best International Flutist category in DownBeat Magazine’s 77th annual Jazz Readers poll last year.

Saturday will be the first time the Astoria Big Band brings its full complement of brass to the church. A professional musician before heeding the call, Pastor Margetson said he can’t wait to hear it: “We’re talking four trombones and five saxes!”

Margetson said the concerts are free and open to the public and are not a fundraiser. “We always lose money,” he said. “It’s about community building.  Everything is so fragmented and impersonal these days.”

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