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St. James Concert: 'Jazz in the Living Room'

A logo for Jazz in the Living Room

A logo for Jazz in the Living Room -- a monthly jazz improvisation series at Mills Pond House in St. James. (2010) Credit: None/

Ever attended a concert sans sheet music and a planned set list?

Well, you have the opportunity to do so tonight at "Jazz in the Living Room" - a series that pairs new musicians with established musicians to grasp the concept of jazz improvisation - in St. James.

Started by composer, teacher and musician Ranny Reeve more than four decades ago in Reeve's own living room, the series outgrew his home and has taken place at the historic Mills Pond House in St. James for more than 10 years, says Allison Cruz, director of the Smithtown Township Arts Council, which organizes the series. 

Tonight's performance gives participants the opportunity to show off their newly learned improvisation skills with professional musicians. And those skills aren't easy to acquire, Cruz says.

"You take lessons and someone teaches you how to play the trumpet and you keep practicing until it sounds like it's supposed to. In improv, there is no way it's supposed to sound," she says. "It's really feeling music...what it brings out in people is their passion for music."

Hearing this passion in the parlor of a home built in 1838 adds to the fun factor.

"The people who come get exposed to really good jazz playing and the people who play get the opportunity to jam with some really good musicians who have played their whole life," Cruz says.

"Jazz in the Living Room"
When | Where:
7:30 p.m. Friday, Mills Pond House, 660 Rte. 25A, St. James.
Info: 631-862-6575,
Cost: $5 to listen

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