Jazz Series Revitalizes Northwest Neighborhood

View from the Harvey is a Weekly column by Sandra Schulman, arts writer, music and film producer.

Jazz Series Revitalizes Northwest Neighborhood
Melton Mustafa Orchestra

A free Jazz Series revitalizes Northwest Neighborhood, taking place at the historic Sunset Lounge as part of the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency’s plans to uplift the community and highlight the unique, historic places located in the Northwest neighborhood.

The free Sunset Lounge Jazz series will take place on Saturday, December 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Sunset Lounge in West Palm Beach. This soulful event will showcase the area’s rich African American culture and history.

Reviving the historic Sunset Lounge, where everyone from Tina Turner to Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie performed, will transform the hood into an epicenter for a new African American tourism destination. In the 1940s and 1950s, the famous jazz venue drew hundreds of patrons to watch the notable artists of the time but was eventually shuttered when larger venues took over the downtown area. The redevelopment of this special jazz district will include a jazz park across the street from the Lounge with an outdoor performance area and a Walk of Fame celebrating the famous performers who graced the Sunset stage. The Agency is still looking for investors, so those interested in redevelopment efforts are invited to attend.

Sunset Lounge in 2002
Sunset Lounge in 2002

“The goal of this free event series is to not only showcase the restoration efforts of the Sunset Lounge, but also encourage our local community to become champions for the Northwest revitalization efforts,” said Jon Ward, West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency Executive Director. “The City’s Northwest area has a rich culture and history and unique events like this support our development efforts.”

Upcoming performances include Swing Into the Holidays with the Melton Mustafa Big Orchestra; and on January 16, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. – Jay Beckenstein and Tom Schuman of Spyra Gyra  featuring Nicole Yarling.

Melton has performed with some of the top names in Jazz including the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Bobby Watson, Jaco Pastorius, George Cables, John Hicks, Charlie Mingus Dynasty, and Gunter Shuller, among many others.

Mustafa has played in many of the international Jazz Festival including the Playboy Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Ravina Jazz Festival, SS Norway Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Lugano Jazz Festival (Italy),Pori Jazz Festival, Charlie Mingus Epitaph Orchestra in Russia and many others.

As a traveling artist, Mustafa manages to conduct his duties as an educator, Mustafa is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at Florida Memorial University where he teaches Music Theory, Jazz Composition and other jazz related courses. He also produces his Annual Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival at Florida Memorial University.

Mustafa has released the following CD’s as a big band including The Traveling Man; The Softer Side; Boiling Point and St. Louis Blues; available through his website MeltonMustafa.com.

The Sunset Lounge is located at 609 8th Street in West Palm Beach. The Northwest Neighborhood is located between Banyan Boulevard and Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and represents one of the city’s gateways to downtown West Palm Beach. Free parking will be available adjacent to the Sunset Lounge.

The Sunset Lounge Jazz Series is presented by the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency. Valet parking is available and registration is required. Guests interested in attending any of the performances, can email cra@wpb.org or call (561) 822-1550 to RSVP.



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