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The Jazz Streets of NYC During Lockdown 2020 – A video document

During the months following the “stay at home” orders that kept New York City quieter than it had ever been, I ventured out briefly to see for myself what was happening on 125th Street, one of the busiest boulevards in Harlem.  My son, Eli, shot the video of poignantly empty sidewalks and shuttered retail shops in the middle of the day as I drove east between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvds.  across from the Apollo Theater.  Of particular interest are the murals by Harlem’s famed artist, Franco the Great, who’s security gate paintings will be moved or destroyed in the coming years as the regulation goes into effect to no longer completely obscure the storefronts along 125th Street.

Later at home, I mixed that footage with images I had taken over the years of street signs that had been dedicated to the the jazz heroes who had lived in those places, in addition to images of other public art pieces depicting the rich history of jazz that New York will always be known for – whether the clubs are open or closed temporarily.

The soundtrack is a snippet of a beautiful live rendition of Portrait of Jennie featuring Wes Montgomery with the Wynton Kelly Trio recorded live in NY. (Paul Chambers, bass and Jimmy Cobb, drums. Verve 1965). Also shown briefly: Eric Lewis playing piano; The late great Seleno Clarke playing organ; and the recently departed – way too soon – Gary Samuels, RIP.

I hope you enjoy.


Gordon Polatnick
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