Take It Down! Organizing Against Racism Carousel Panel Exhibit 

ROCHESTER, NY— The Take It Down Planning Committee in partnership with the City of Rochester and Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) invited the public to participate in educational programs about the Dentzel Menagerie Carousel panel exhibit, Take It Down! Organizing Against Racism,  on Thursday, July 13 July 16.

These community-wide programs for all ages included an opportunity to view the exhibit, discuss racism today, and dialogue about actions we can take in Rochester to work toward social justice for all. The event took place at the FIGHT Village Community Center, 186 Ward Street. These programs were the continuation of an ongoing educational process in the Rochester community to create meaningful and sustained dialogue on individual, institutional and structural racism with the goal of impacting racism in concrete, measurable ways. For more program dates, times and other details including sign-up for organizations interested in partnering in the educational process, visit www.rmsc.org/carousel.

Viewing the exhibit is free and open to the public at FIGHT Village Community Center Mondays through Fridays from 9am to 5pm from now through August 31. Additional hours will be announced for educational programs.

Please visit the Take It Down! Organizing Against Racism webpage, hosted by the RMSC at www.rmsc.org/carousel

In 2016, a panel featuring racist "pickaninny" artwork was removed from the Dentzel Carousel at Ontario Beach Park in Rochester, NY, after being on display for 111 years. The issue generated controversy in our community. The Take It Down Planning Committee created this exhibit to show that pickaninny art perpetuates ongoing individual, institutional, and structural racism by denying the humanity of Black children.

 Community Display Locations

The exhibit is free and open to the public at all locations

•F.I.G.H.T. Village Community Center, 186 Ward St.

Now through Aug. 31 | Monday through Friday, 9am–5pm


16th Edition Xerox Rochester International

Jazz Festival :“Sounds of Music Everywhere”

By Tracie Isaac

The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival 16th Edition kicked off on Friday, June 23 and continues through Saturday, July 1.  More than 1500 artists from 18 countries will perform in more than 325 shows.

Downtown Rochester was filled with multitudes of people from all over the country and the world who were in town to hear some of the most talented seasoned or up and coming jazz musicians, singers and various groups whose music has roots in jazz.  From the corner of E. Main Street to East Avenue Gibbs Street becomes “Jazz Street” during the festival.  Lines of eager festival ticket holders and attendees with the colorful Series Passes around their necks arrived early to wait on line to see the kick off performances on Friday afternoon.  Jazz Street was filled from corner to corner with people seated in their personal outdoor chairs in front of the Big Tent, while others browsed the various vendors and exhibitors. The array of food trucks had cooks and servers moving at heightened speed to serve a meal to attendees who were anxious to get to the next performance, or just coming from an exhilarating set with a ferocious appetite.  

In the midst of this excited energy, outside of the Eastman Theater we spoke with Mark Iacona, Producer of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival who stated, “The high lights are, in my opinion, the consistency of what we bring in the programming of the multiple venues, up and coming artists and mature artists; there are seasoned artists who play together with up and coming artists, we say ‘it’s not who you know but who you don’t know.’ Performances can be seen in the Club Pass Series and at the Eastman Theater Series which features headliners.  The festival is not only jazz, we have different genres like R&B, different cross over types of music; it’s creative improvised music.  The other things we have are musicians who will work with kids during workshops.”  Mark credited his partner for stating that they should change things up a bit.  “Most of the musicians want to play on the open air stages and not just play straight ahead.  There will be two jam sessions this year on each Friday night.  Our traditional straight ahead and an R&B/funk/blues jam session so that other musicians can come and sit in who might not want to play the jazz standards, so that is a different jam session,” said Mark Iacona.

The Festival is presented in three series - the Club Pass Series with 230+ shows, the headliner series of six shows and 95 free shows and events. The festival's 19 indoor and outdoor venues are all within walking distance in Rochester's East End Cultural and Entertainment District. Other highlights include a series of Youth Jazz Workshops June 26-30, jam sessions nightly, and two international series, Made in the UK and Nordic Jazz Now.  Rochester holds a wealth of history that takes many of the visiting artists by surprise when they make the connection of where they are geographically in the history we plan to bring a lot of fun, swing, bop and some original stuff to the audiences. I am actually excited to be in the city of Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony and especially Cab Calloway. I have never been here before and I am really enamored with this city and its’ rich history.”  With his gracious manner Allan thanked Rochester for having him and said “I am going to give the audience a lot of love.”  When I shared with him that the audience was wrapped around the building, he joked about his band being more comfortable playing for only ten people.  I let them know that it was definitely more, like ten plus a few hundred.  They were all excited and delighted that the turnout had reached into the balcony of the Harrow East Ballroom.

The Allan Harris performance was a real treat featuring his melodic baritone/tenor voice accompanied by the trio of musician masters in their own right:  Nimrod Speaks on double bass, Shirazette Tinnin on drums and cajón, Miki Hirayama on grand piano and Hammond B3 organ.  

Harris took the audience on an autobiographical musical journey that evokes ancestral characters of slaves, cowboys, musicians and more.  Along with a few standards, Harris and his band engrossed the audience with originals like “Miami” and “Mothers’ Love”, and an Eddie Jefferson tune “I Got The Blues.”  Additionally, the audience was introduced to a few songs from a play that Allan Harris has written called Cross That River, a story set in 1859 of a run-away slave who becomes a black cowboy. 

Beginning November 27, 2017, Cross That River will run on Broadway in New York City at the 59 E. 59 Theater for five weeks. Harris introduces the play by telling a humorous story about how his mother was a pianist, who taught him how to play piano, but he longed to play the guitar.  Daily, Harris’ mother asked if he practiced his piano and he would tell her yes.  With a mother’s wit, she would tell him to play for her any way.  Begrudgingly, Harris took to the piano.  One day while his mother was out, he was rambling through a closet in the attic and found a guitar.  Harris would sneak up to the attic when everyone was away and taught himself to play that guitar.  After a while when Harris had reached a point of proficiency on the piano, his mother handed him the guitar she had hidden and said to him, “Now let me see what you can do with this.” Harris plays the acoustic, electric and resonator guitar on several songs for this performance.  With Harris narrating segments of the play, attendees are whisked through the South traveling with the slave on the escape route to the freedom of a cowboy in the West. Shirazette Tinnin moves from the drums to the cajón (pronounced ka-HON, "box", "crate" or "drawer") is nominally a box-shaped percussion instrument (generally made of thin plywood), originally from Peru, played by slapping the front or rear faceswith the hands, fingers, or sometimes various implements such as brushes, mallets, or sticks. Cajones are primarily played in Afro-Peruvian music, as well as contemporary styles of flamenco and jazz among other genres) to accompany Harris on acoustic guitar for a simulated ride on a horse that definitely has the spirit that carries you from the mother land to the new horizons in the West.  Shirazette played those percussions intensely with lightening speed and at times ancestral rhythms that left the audience breathless.

Opening night for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival was full of excitement.  Fans of vocalist Joss Stone had the Eastman Theatre “sold out” as they swayed in the seats, then singing along, rising to their feet on her up tempo and reggae inspired tunes and even shouting out song requests.  There was line dancing in the street in front of the YMCA (photo left); cafes and various small venues were packed to the walls and flowed to the sidewalk with visitors eating or having a cool beverage while musicians blazed the stages with everything from straight ahead to contemporary fusion jazz.  There was even a little soul stirring gospel with Tim Woodson and the Heirs of Harmony (photo right).

The eclectic schedule of the 16th Edition Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival is filled with an opportunity to discover up and coming, as well as seasoned musicians to suit your taste, inspire and motivate children and future musical artists.