Photo: Dino Perrucci

Guest Blog: Shorty Academy Kids Rock Central Park & Hit Lincoln Center

What a day! After getting a solid night’s rest, Team Shorty made the most of our Friday in New York City. Despite the cold early morning rain and some minor subway confusion, we arrived at Sony Music’s headquarters at 25 Madison Avenue and were greeted by Anthony Sylvester, our dear friend and director of the Gia Maione Prima Foundation, who organized a very special morning focused on the music business.

Anthony’s connections with Sony ATV, its music publishing division, run deep through his work with the Louis Prima estate. As the world’s largest publishing company, Sony ATV handles Prima’s catalog along with notables such as Beyonce, Bob Dylan and the Beatles. Assembled in their conference room to greet us were Bruce Scavuzzo, Senior VP of Business and Legal Affairs, Richard Christina, Senior VP of East Coast A&R, Danille Middleton from A&R, and our friend Michael Reinert, a senior partner at the Fox Rothschild law firm (and Tulane alumnus), whose clients include Stevie Wonder and Cash Money Records.

This impressive team of music executives spent over two hours with our Shorty Academy students, covering a wide range of topics, all of which focused on how to develop a strategy for a successful career in the music industry, with the overarching theme of staying true yourself and following your passion.

This inspiring meeting led into a lunch of ribs and brisket at Hill Country BBQ, then it was back underground to make our way uptown to Columbus Circle and the home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. We had about 30 minutes to spare upon arrival, so in true New Orleans style we took it to the street (rather, we took it to the park!). At the entrance to Central Park South, our students took out their instruments for another spur-of-the-moment performance. This one attracted an even bigger crowd than yesterday’s, and as we now had a better understanding of the legalities of performing in public in NYC, we managed to take home some cash money tips from the short set. Yet again, the good people of New York embraced our New Orleans sound and spirit with open arms.

After that quick hit, we were escorted into Jazz at Lincoln Center’s beautiful Appel Room, a state-of-the-art space with a full view of Central Park South, where New Orleans’ own drumming legend Herlin Riley was just starting his soundcheck with an impressive aggregation of musical luminaries, including Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez, bassist Reginald Veal and our own elder statesman of jazz, Ellis Marsalis. After running the ensemble through selections from the Thelonious Monk catalog (it’s Monk weekend at JALC), Herlin spent time with our students talking about everything from growing up in the Lower 9th Ward to attending Carver High School to touring the world with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. His kindness and spirit made us all feel right at home in the big city!

We then walked a few blocks uptown for burgers at the NYC institution PJ Clark’s, where our Shorty Academy instructor Jenard Andrews surprised us with a visit on his way from Maryland to New Hampshire with the New Breed Brass Band. Then we quickly made our way back to Lincoln Center for an epic, masterful performance by Herlin and his stellar band to a packed house, which included the 93-years-young founder of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the one and only George Wein.

We are really hitting our groove here up here and can’t wait to head to Brooklyn bright and early for our performance at the Brooklyn Flea at Industry City.

All photos by Dino Perrucci