A few days later, the band will hit the road and head to Taiwan to play in the Taichung Jazz Festival, which kicks off on October 11.
The performances are the latest in the storied career of Antonio Hart, a longtime professional musician who has recorded with jazz legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Hargrove and Nancy Wilson.
“I call it learning from the grand masters of the music,” Hart said. “It’s an education you don’t get from a university.”
Hart said he was trained classically, but after a few years, he didn’t feel as if he would have a career in classical music.
“I didn’t see a lot of people who looked like me in orchestras,” he said.
After discovering jazz, Hart said he was intrigued by the idea of improvisation.
“The rest is history,” he said.
Hart credits another legend, Jimmy Heath, for getting the jazz program started at Queens College, where Hart got his master’s degree.
After becoming a tenured professor at The Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, Hart became director of jazz studies in spring of 2019.
Hart noted that there’s a lot of “continued curiosity” and interest in the program, particularly from international students. Some of his students come from China, Korea, Israel and parts of Europe.
“It’s only been growing,” he said. “So many young players are playing well and are proficient.”
Hart is also well aware of the history of jazz in Queens. Louis Armstrong lived in Corona, and his home is now a museum. Gillespie also had a house behind Armstrong.
“The names go on and on,” he said. “Queens is definitely an important borough for jazz.”