All that jazz and more

IB/Chalifoux

All that jazz and more

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
10/1/2015


ISLIP TOWN—On Saturday and Sunday, the Islip Arts Council hosted its fifth annual Jazz Fest, which took place at the Brookwood Hall mansion for the very first time. The free event (with a suggested donation of $10) featured exciting, captivating, performances from a number of acclaimed local jazz musicians and groups.  

On Saturday, attendees enjoyed music from The New York Jazz Mission, John Restrepo Quartet, The Union Jazz Coalition, and the Thom Penn Nonet. Sunday’s featured sets were Janine DiNatale, Interplay Jazz Orchestra, and the Swingtime Big Band.

The event was made possible thanks to a Destination Downtown Grant from the Suffolk County Office of Film and Cultural Affairs, which was awarded to the Arts Council over the summer. The $25,000 grant is helping to fund a variety of other concerts and events centered at Brookwood Hall for the rest of the year. Islip Arts Council director Lynda Moran said that this year marked the first time that the Islip Arts Council was a recipient.

“We were so thrilled when it was announced,” said Moran. “It was very exciting to get it, especially because it recognized that Brookwood Hall is the center of cultural arts in the Town of Islip. Everything emanates out of here.”

The original idea for Jazz Fest came through the East Islip Public Library, which served as its venue during its first three years. After one year at the Seatuck Environmental Center and another mini-event at the Treme Blues/Jazz Club in Islip (in which a number of musicians played their sets for free), this year was the first time it took place at Brookwood Hall, which has been undergoing restoration work after a year’s worth of successful fundraising efforts.

Moran said this year’s event marked a great opportunity to showcase the ongoing renovation of the historic, town-owned estate. With a completed landscape plan, the town has been utilizing the volunteer services of landscapers and contractors offering to perform the work necessary to make the shared vision a reality. Construction has been underway on a new landscape design recreating the property’s beautiful tree alley along with a new lakeside patio.

“This weekend was the first time that a lot of the public had seen the beautiful transformation taking place,” said Moran, who noted that many of the project’s donors and volunteers were publicly thanked over the weekend. “The back patio is absolutely stunning, and the inside ballroom was utilized as a musicians’ lounge. All of the trees have been cleared out, and the rest of the plantings and work are supposed to be finished by mid-October.”

Overall, Jazz Fest has been steadily growing over time, and its goal is to remain one of Long Island’s premier music festivals at its new home for many more years to come.

“We probably had the best attendance rates this year,” said Moran. “It was nice to look out over the park and see people barbecuing and sitting near the trees. Some stayed there all day just relaxing and enjoying the music. Having it at Brookwood Hall brought a whole different flavor, and we’re hoping to have it here again next year.”

Up next on the Downtown Destination-Islip Arts Has It All event schedule is the annual Fall Arts, Antiques, and Collectibles Fair on Saturday, Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring a performance by Beatles tribute band Liverpool Shuffle in commemoration of what would have been John Lennon’s 75th birthday. 

For more information on the Islip Arts Council and the remaining Downtown Destination events through December, visit www.islipartscouncil.org or call 224-5420.

Here are some of the groups that performed during the festival.