The year was 1999. George W. Bush announced his candidacy; Bill Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial ended in acquittal; a Columbine, Colorado high school suffered a massacre; Amadou Diallo, an innocent 24-year-old immigrant was slaughtered by a barrage of police bullets, and the Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival was launched.
“We have to honor and represent this genre in some fashion where everybody respects and supports it!…I have to discuss with Mary, Alma, Sam and Viola a way to create a base, a tour, a company that will engage the community and put this music out front” pondered Torrie McCartney.
The brainchild and birth of the festival was implemented by the coordinated efforts of three women who were responsible for forming the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium (“CBJC”). Torrie, who organized her own band and recorded a CD accompanied by baritone sax man Hamiett Bluiett; Viola Plummer, creator of Sista’s Place, a jazz café located in the heart of central Brooklyn since 1995; and Alma Carroll, a community organizer, jazz enthusiast and widow of famed vocalist Joe ‘bebop’ Carroll, co-founded the organization.
The three would later be characterized by soon-to-be Consortium chairman, Jitu Weusi, as starting a war on Brooklyn with jazz as the sword. “A weapon,” deemed Viola… “culture is the weapon,” as Sista’s Place became the vanguard emporium for the cutting edge when jazz was labeled “Music of the Spirit” – the eternal theme as this festival moves into its 20thyear.
The Call was made and a meeting was held in 1999 at the Bed-Stuy Restoration Corporation. Leadership filled the room and the Festival was created.
Saddened by its early losses between 1999 and 2002, Deacon Leroy Applin (Sofocus), Rosalind Blair (Jazz the Women’s Viewpoint) and Torrie McCartney (co-founder), responsible and committed leadership, (Jitu, Alma and Viola),coupled with consistent meetings and increased membership, the goal of keeping jazz alive ushered in the new decades.
Torrie’s vision and impetus probably started when Dr. Sam Pinn, a history professor at Ramapo College in New Jersey and Founder of the Ft. Greene Senior Citizens Council in Brooklyn, asked her to create a weekly concert series at their flagship center, 966 Fulton Street, in 1990. The room would launch as Jazz 966, now nearing its 30th year.
In 1995 she was asked by Dr. Mary Umolu, a tenured professor at Medgar Evers College, to develop a weekly summer concert series on the campus grounds. These Friday summer concerts continue today.
That collaboration evolved into an international production as artists and passengers trekked to the W.E.B. DuBois Center in Ghana, West Africa from 1998 to 2000.
Late bassist, Bob Cunningham, Torrie’s mentor in the early years, also sought to return jazz to its former heyday as central Brooklyn feted at clubs like The East, Putnam Central, Monterrey, Berry Brothers, Baby Grand and, of course, the legendary Blue Coronet. He worked closely with Torrie and her husband, Mike Howard, as they developed the format for Jazz 966 and Jazzy Jazz at Medgar Evers.
Viola, Alma and Torrie’s dream of a jazz initiative based in central Brooklyn prompted club owners, clergy, jazz aficionados, musicians, community activists, and politicians, to get on board. They hit the ground running. Their mission and mainstay is to galvanize audiences, maintain affordable admission prices, seek new jazz venues, and create a vibrant jazz circuit.
CBJC has since installed a youth jazz competition, a Hall of Fame, jazz instruction at public schools, a jazz events calendar, and a Borough Hall concert featuring the mentally challenged.
Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium’s purpose is to Educate, Disseminate, and Preserve the historical and cultural significance of Jazz to all ethnic groups. The consortium creates musical forums to serve its objectives and to provide direct services to the community.
Chairman, Clarence Mosley, Jr.
Clarence is uniquely suited to guide Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium. Mosley’s background, a Brooklyn-born grassroots musician with 41 years of experience in the banking industry, provide the acumen to direct this organization.
Clarence recently retired as a Vice President of JPMorgan Chase. He held several management positions in retail banking, business banking, marketing, and finance. His responsibilities as Diverse Markets Manager, were to give counsel and credit to start-up companies. Mosley financially nurtured not for profits organizations and developed platforms for emerging companies with a focus on African American, Asian, and Hispanic businesses in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Texas. Mosley the musician, trained at Brooklyn’s jazz shrine, The Muse, under the great Bill Barron; performed with jazz notables Curtis Fowlkes and hall of fame member Alex Blake, just to name a couple.
Chairman Mosley received a BS in economics from Fordham University, an MBA from Long Island University, and is a graduate of the Tuck Executive Program at Dartmouth College.
Treasurer, Robert Myers
Robert “Bob” Myers is a graduate of Syracuse University. Employed for two decades in the pharmaceutical industry. He managed company’s sales at institutional and retail pharmacies; for 15 years as the sole proprietor of an entertainment venue, he developed bookkeeping and financial analytical skills.
Myers draws on the above experiences to manage Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium’s financial records and provide expenditure recommendations to its board of directors.
Member, Ulysses S. Kilgore, III
Ulysses, former President and CEO of the Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center was appointed as the chief executive of BSFHC in 1982.
Over the years, with strong and compassionate management and clinical teams, the Center became a major provider of disease prevention and treatment services in central Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant community. According to Mr. Kilgore, it was the Center’s ultimate aim to have each patient assume responsibility for their own mental, spiritual and physical well-being.
He regards the dancers, poets, musicians and other artists as conduits for the ultimate expression of the Creator’s love and feels their energies are vital to the healing process.
Mr. Kilgore possesses an MBA degree from Long Island University and a B.S. degree in business from Lincoln University in Missouri. Mr. Kilgore’s professional experience includes appointments as fiscal officer at the former Sydenham Hospital and financial management positions at Pfizer and Brooklyn Union Gas Company, now National Grid. He served as President of the Community Health Care Association of New York State from 1995 to 1996.
Executive Director, Bessie Edwards
CENTRAL BROOKLYN JAZZ CONSORTIUM
1958 Fulton Street
BROOKLYN , NY 11223
office: 718-773.2252 ext 100