Leave work at 5:30 p.m. and you'll hear the hustle and bustle of rush hour. Well, that is, unless you work in Homewood and happen to be going down Hamilton Avenue past the Homewood Carnegie Library. There, you'll be met by live jazz music cutting the sound of moving traffic.
The Jazz on the Steps concert series has been happening in Homewood for about 15 years, under Jaki Young, executive director of Jazz Workshop, Inc. Young inherited Jazz Workshop, Inc. from her late father, Harold Young Sr., who started the live concert series in the '70s.
"The Jazz on the Steps series exposes the young people of the neighborhood to live music," says Young. Jazz Workshop, Inc. also conducts music lessons every Saturday in the Homewood Carnegie Library Concert Hall. Young's passion for music — she has a background as a saxophone player — drives her to share Jazz Workshop, Inc. programs with community youth, as does her desire to provide more positive outlets in the Homewood area. "The kids demonstrate excitement and joy learning how to play an instrument, without realizing it will help them in many other areas outside of music," she explains.
At a time when Homewood has had its share of bad press, Jazz on the Steps helps provide balance to the neighborhood's image. "The perception of Homewood is enhanced through Jazz on the Steps because it demonstrates that at the core of the community are individuals who just want to be happy. Daily life for everyone can be challenging, but this is a positive and creative outlet," says Young about the series. "The program has had an efficacious impact on the community."
Upcoming performers include Flo Wilson, Richie Cole, Eric Johnson and Kenny Blake. So, the next time you're looking for something free and entertaining on a Wednesday evening, make your way down Hamilton Avenue to trade the rush-hour noise for some uplifting music.