Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Jazz, Jews, and African Americans
a free exhibit tells the story of the relationships that helped grow and develop jazz

WHEN: October 15 - December 13, Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Violinist Aaron Weinstein and his jazz combo perform two sets at a special opening reception on October 18
WHERE: Jewish Museum of New Jersey at Congregation Ahavas Sholom, 145 Broadway, Newark
For extended hours and appointments, call (973) 485-2609

Co-produced by New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark, Jewish Museum of New Jersey at Congregation Ahavas Sholom, and WBGO Jazz 88.3FM, and presented in partnership with seven religious, educational and cultural institutions, Jazz, Jews, and African Americans: Cultural Intersections in Newark and Beyond, delves into some of the most fruitful and sometimes contentious relationships in jazz history through photos, documents and text.

On view in the Jewish Museum of New Jersey at Congregation Ahavas Sholom—Newark's only active synagogue—the exhibit is the centerpiece of a community-wide celebration of jazz. Partners include five diverse congregations, all within a short walk of each other on Broadway in Newark, as well as New Jersey City University in Jersey City and the Newark Arts Council. Those congregations are Ahavas Sholom (145 Broadway), Clinton Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church (151 Broadway), Iglesia El Sembrador (143 Broadway), Mount Zion Baptist Church (208 Broadway), and Project New Life of N.J. (Projeto Vida Nova of N.J.) (152 Broadway).

Created by the Institute of Jazz Studies and curator-archivist Tad Hershorn, Jazz, Jews, and African Americans profiles influential figures from the 1920s to the present day and reveals how their roles in performance, artist management, media and recording informed "America's classical music." The narrative includes examples of famous success stories, such as trumpeter Louis Armstrong's lifelong friendship with the Jewish family that nurtured his talent, as well as clashes and exploitation between the two cultures.

Visitors can learn about the contributions made by George and Ira Gershwin in bringing a new dimension to black jazz and the later impact of the composers' canon on Ella Fitzgerald's recording career. A reproduction of a Nazi propaganda poster, disparaging to both Jews and African Americans, condemns jazz as degenerate music. Controversies over blackface traditions and exploitative managers are chronicled side-by-side with tributes to some the jazz world's most timeless pairings of black and white musicians.

The exhibit emphasizes Newark's prominence in the jazz landscape by spotlighting such legends as Sarah Vaughan, Wayne Shorter, Willie "The Lion" Smith, and James Moody. Innovators like poet Amiri Baraka, author of Blues People: Negro Music in White America; illustrator Paul Bacon, renowned for his dust jackets and album covers; and Lorraine Gordon, owner of the Village Vanguard, also claim strong roots in the city. Vaughan, known as "The Divine One," also was a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church, where her funeral services were held in 1990.

"This is a shining example of how the arts and faith-based groups can partner in a celebration of their mutual love of jazz," said Donna Walker-Kuhne, NJPAC's vice president of community engagement. "We're pleased to see such enthusiastic collaboration among members of the spiritual community in this unique, multicultural downtown corridor."

"This unprecedented collaboration also speaks to the pride that these diverse members share in sustaining Newark's jazz landscape," said Wayne Winborne, executive director of the Institute of Jazz Studies. "This exhibit takes an unblinking look at the triumphs as well as the misfortunes experienced by both African Americans and Jews - in Newark, the country and internationally - in pursuing something original and transformative."

An opening reception at the museum on Sunday, October 18 features the music of Aaron Weinstein & Trio. Called "the Groucho of the violin" by Tony Bennett and "a perfect musician" by jazz guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli, Weinstein has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center and at jazz festivals worldwide. A respected mandolinist as well as violinist, he has played and recorded with such jazz icons as Les Paul, Dick Hyman, Skitch Henderson and Annie Ross.

The following are highlights of events presented in association with Jazz, Jews, and African Americans. Other tours and related activities by partners will be announced throughout the engagement:

Sunday, October 18
An opening reception takes place at the museum from 1 to 5 p.m., with jazz violinist Aaron Weinstein & Trio performing sets at 2 and 3:30. Free.

Friday, October 23, 6 PM
Director Joel Katz, professor of media arts at New Jersey City University, hosts a screening of Strange Fruit, his 2002 documentary about the poem that inspired Billie Holiday's groundbreaking recording of the same title, at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark, Dana Library, 185 University Ave., fourth floor. Free. Registration must be made in advance at

Sunday, November 8, 2 PM
The Gig, a 1985 feature film about six Jewish amateur jazz musicians who recruit an African-American professional jazzman to help them fulfill a two-week engagement at a Catskills resort, is screened at the Jewish Museum of New Jersey. Free.

Sunday, November 15, 2 PM
An ensemble from NJPAC's Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens program performs at Clinton Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church. Free.

Sunday, November 22, 2 – 5 PM
Wayne Winborne, executive director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark, moderates a panel discussion titled Jazz, Jews, and African Americans: Cultural Intersections in Newark and Beyond, co-presented by NJPAC and WBGO. Among the participants is NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber, a former longtime jazz producer, and Dan Morgenstern, former director of the Institute of Jazz Studies. The conversation takes place at 2 p.m. in the sanctuary of Congregation Ahavas Sholom. Free. Registration must be made in advance at

Newark artist, photographer and arts educator Mansa K. Mussa conducts an art workshop for young people, How to Make a Romare Bearden-Inspired Jazz Collage, at the Jewish Museum of New Jersey, from 2 to 5 p.m. Free. No advance registration, but space is limited.

Sunday, December 13, 2 PM
WBGO presents the exhibit's closing reception at the Jewish Museum, featuring pianist, writer and sociologist Ben Sidran in Jews, Music and the American Dream. Accompanying himself on piano, Sidran explores the relationship of blacks and Jews in the music business throughout the 20th century. He is the author of the books There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream and Talking Jazz. The event, scheduled at 2 p.m., is free. Registration must be made in advance at

Jazz, Jews, and African Americans: Cultural Intersections in Newark and Beyond coincides with the fourth annual TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC (November 7-15) - the largest gathering of jazz talent in the Northeast - and is a stop on the Newark Arts Council's Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival (October 15 - 18). It is also open to visitors on Saturday, October 17 for the Newark Celebration 350 Family Fun Festival in nearby Military Park, an afternoon of free events and activities to herald next year's 350th anniversary of the founding of the City of Newark.

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