Roy Nathanson’s 5pm Porch Concert Ensemble: World of Fire
Late March 2020, in a shuttered New York City due to Covid, saxophonist Roy Nathanson took a cue from Italians who sang to the world from their balconies, and he marched out onto his own second-story Brooklyn porch to play “Amazing Grace.” He committed to playing one healing song each day, at precisely 5pm. Roy’s musician neighbors heard the call and joined him on the Flatbush sidewalk to improvise and share the music together. After an impressive 82 consecutive days of 5pm concerts with an expanding local audience, the musicians turned to creating a learning program for local youth, whose summer camp was cancelled and were unable to do much of anything during the lockdown. Making music together under the supervision of professional musicians revealed a remarkable balm for the Covid blues. This 23-minute film documents the culminating performance of the 5pm Porch Concert Ensemble and their students. “World of Fire” is a pandemic-aware procession that visits a suite of diverse musical and cultural styles on the porches, driveways, yards, and sidewalks of Marlborough Road. It is one neighborhood’s heartfelt response to a city, a country, and a world that is now so full of Fire.
That Healing Jazz Thing on a Porch in Brooklyn
For 82 days straight, a diverse group of musicians found their way to a stoop in Flatbush, and everybody followed the sax player. (It was his house.)
By conventional measures, religion took a big hit during the pandemic. Houses of worship were shuttered. Major holidays like Easter, Passover, and Eid al-Fitr were observed on the calendar but without the ordinary group celebrations. And major rituals like baptisms, funerals, and weddings took place via Zoom. But the spirit blows where it will, giving form to the void, and during extraordinary times like this one, it can give new meaning, depth, and understanding to what religion is, or could be.
Over in Ditmas Park, a nightly jazz fest broke out in late March when Gabe Nathanson, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Vermont, grabbed his trumpet. His father Roy, a 69-year-old teacher and celebrated jazz musician, strapped on his saxophone, and they belted out “Amazing Grace” duet from their second-floor balcony.
Los patios de estas casas en Ditmas Park se han convertido en salones de clases para que adolescentes practiquen sus habilidades musicales durante el verano.
A Brooklyn jazz musician put together a band that played one song every day for more than two months during the coronavirus pandemic. The musicians gathered outside the home of saxophonist Roy Nathanson and performed for people in the neighborhood.