This little light of mine

In Sugar Hill, named for the Harlem Renaissance, a building called the triple nickel used to be the home of Count Basie, Lena Horne and Paul Robeson –  and the heart of the jazz scene. Thanks to Marjorie Eliot it still is. Every Sunday afternoon for the past 24 years , Marjorie has invited strangers into her living room to share music in celebration of life. She plays the piano, another musician plays the trumpet, the flute, the bass or the sax. People sing, they read stories and they come in droves from all over the world. Deck chairs were originally set up in the music room, then the kitchen and the halls. It is a warren of rooms bursting with people who love jazz and can’t believe their luck. This is a special, special experience.

Marjorie opened her doors to the world as a way of turning sadness into joy when her son died in 1992, and other sons followed. There are photos and posters everywhere, but the performance is far from a requiem. She greets people as they arrive with an enthusiasm of long lost friends. The audience are essential, she said, they enable the glorious expression of our art. On the piano Marjorie’s familiarity with seemingly every riff on the scale means she plays with eyes closed, no sheet music, her spidery fingers dancing along the keys before suddenly withdrawing, only to hit a singular cord when the bass needs to breathe. Jazz!

Sunday afternoon was a particularly special day for Marjorie because an old friend and neighbor who brought people and energy to the jazz sessions, but who had left NYC for Turkey four years ago, was back for a visit. Marjorie played a special piece in her honor and the two women cried and laughed together at the end of the show. The Turkish woman was dismayed at the changes in her old city home and thanked Marjorie for preserving the ‘real Harlem – whatever that is!’. Perhaps it’s just a feeling, or a unique connection through time shared, but when the saints go marching in, you want to be in that number…

foyerdoorMarjoriehallsaxreadingthe saints

This entry was posted in art & inspiration, events, Fun, music, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to This little light of mine

  1. Jann Beadle says:

    great be there in May 2016

    • Great to hear Jann – it’s an excellent time to be here. You just turn up to Marjorie’s at 555 Edgecombe Avenue about 3pm. We were the first but other people came along and waited with us in the passageway until the door opened. It is a classic ‘New York’ experience…!

  2. Chrissy Hirst says:

    What a great story!! Oh how I WANT to be in THAT number xx

  3. Irene Rofe says:

    This is so great and what a way to live! Thank you for sharing this with us

  4. Tedd T says:

    I will be there….looks so wonderful….especially for lovers of Jazz

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