By Walter Rutledge
In August Universal Temple of The Arts founder Sadja Musawwir Ladner joined the ancestors. A fixture in Staten Island arts scene for over fifty years Ladner provided arts education, performance opportunities and outreach to the underserved communities of her beloved borough- Staten Island. Her untimely passing shocked and saddened all who encountered this “community spirit”, fortunately her legacy lives on. On Saturday March 12, at 5pm the Universal Temple of the Arts will present the Staten Island Jazz Festival 33 at the historic St. George Theatre located at 35 Hyatt St, downtown Staten Island.
The festival will feature jazz music seven artists/groups including Nikara Presents…Black Wall Street (Nikara Warren), Bria Skonberg, Winard Harper & Jeli Posse, The Leopoldo F. Fleming Afro Caribbean Ensemble, Danny Mixon Quartet featuring vocalist Antoinette Montague, Dal Segno Trio featuring Darrell Smith, Michael Morreale and Houston Person and The Universal Temple of the Arts Jazz Ensemble. The evening will honor Women’s History Month as it celebrates the life and legacy of Ladner. There will also be a spoken word presentation featuring Professor Charles Thomas, Jordan Bracy and dancer Nubia Briathwaite, and a dance tribute choreographed by Walter Rutledge featuring Roumel Reaux, Briathwaite and Rutledge.
Musician Darrell Smith will make his debut in the role as the festival’s Music Director. Smith first met Ladner as a sixteen-year-old jazz enthusiast, now his many credits include imbuing and inspiring the next generation of young jazz aficionados at Jazz at Lincoln Center. O&A Editor-in-Chief sat down with Musical Director Smith to discuss the upcoming festival and all things jazz.
Staten Island Jazz Festival 33