Inside the Montclair jazz archives

Being that this is the 150th anniversary of Montclair, there are some things that many of you do know about some of the jazz History of Montclair. So, here are a few questions to see just how much of the jazz history of Montclair you may know.

  1. Did you know that the Montclair Blues & Jazz Festival was the first festival in Montclair to feature Blues & Jazz for 14 years plus prior to the present festival.
  2. Did you know, that there is a “Great Day In Montclair” photo which featured 50 jazz musicians who live or had lived in Montclair at the time the photograph was taken!
  3. Did you know, that there is a local jazz archive in Montclair? Just check out the local history room at the Montclair Public Library.
  4. Did you know that, we have a “Jazz Month in Montclair” which is Nov 3. We have the proclamation to prove it.
  5. Did you know, that we had an annual ceremony where we presented award certificates for contributions to the jazz community. We also had a jazz history presentation (display of local jazz artifacts) during the month of November. And...yes the Montclair Jazz Archives is a local research archive established by the 'Montclair Jazz Project' developed by Bruce Tyler of the Montclair Jazz Project.

Yes..there was jazz here long before Jazz House Kids. Will the Montclair Jazz Project become active again? You betcha, and soon.

Please support your local grass roots jazz and jazz artists; we need your support.



The writer is a local jazz and blues artist and co-founder of the Montclair Jazz Project.


Each one can reach one

You’re going to vote on Nov. 6, right?

I’d like to convince you to go one step further. Think about the people you know. Is there anyone, friend, neighbor, or relative, who may not be planning to vote, or who doesn’t understand how important voting in this election is?

If you can convince even one of them to go out and cast a ballot, you’ll be doing a great service.

In case you aren’t sure what to say, or why this is so important, there is an article on that lays out the stakes of this election succinctly titled “5 ways the 2018 midterms could change American politics.”

Look at it this way: we all have the right to vote. It is the one (and probably only) way each of us has equal power in this country. Every person who does NOT vote is giving his or her power over to someone else. That’s how we ended up where we are. Don’t let that happen again.

Small efforts on the part of many can make a big difference.

Please help.




‘Limited’ leaf blowing hours not cutting it

I was sick to my stomach reading the article in the Sept. 13 Montclair Local (“Fall Foliage,” page 5) about the "limited" hours that leaf blowers can be used in this town.

Limited?!?!?! All day long for months and months and weekends. Quiet enjoyment of life? Not happening. What a shame. There is a reason that almost all leaf blower operators wear industrial strength noise-blocking headphones. Most citizens don't wear those from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and up to 8 p.m. for homeowners; on Saturdays between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for landscapers, and up to 8 p.m. for homeowners; and on Sundays, Good Friday and Thanksgiving between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for all use. Are you kidding me?

But worry not, this only applies to all of March, April, May, June, October, November and half of December.

I will try to enjoy my quality of life during the five supposedly peaceful months of January, February, July, August and September and look for another place to live for the majority of the year. Very, very disappointing.




The need for a grocery, the erasure of landmarks

I do not agree with the position that the Montclair Chapter of the NAACP takes on the erasure of landmarks when no measures are being taken to resolve the immediate need for a food market at the Lackawanna Plaza.
Regarding the need for a supermarket, there are immediate food market solutions to the current lack of a supermarket. The Urban Agricultural Cooperative Market, like the one in East Orange, could be organized to address the present need for a supermarket in Montclair. There are also initiatives like The Urban Farm Alliance. These could be solutions while the new supermarket will not be available for several years.

An appropriate and feasible alternative design – Lackawanna Station: “Creating Connection” – has been prepared and submitted by David Greenbaum and John Reimnitz. This solution would provide a supermarket while correctly preserving the Lackawanna Station Landmark.

The Lackawanna Station has three levels of historic designation. Destroying the landmark will have negative effects, not only on the real estate values for the Fourth Ward, but for the entire town.

Regarding the erasure of Montclair’s landmarks, it seems that the Montclair Chapter of the NAACP views historic preservation as incompatible with their position. Instead, Montclair’s Black History has important contributions to American History. The erasure of landmarks in the Fourth Ward, like the Washington Street YMCA, the Aubrey Lewis House and the non pro-activeness to the preservation of Don Miller’s Freedom Mural are not consistent, in my opinion, with the organization’s goals for the acknowledgement of the rich contributions that African Americans have made to our country’s history.

There are organizations like AAHGS, The Afro American History and Genealogical Society and the Sons and Daughters of the U.S. Middle Passage where Montclair’s African American history should be documented into American history, but instead this history is being erased locally.




Gateway Project, not brought to you by the GOP

I am fairly certain the desire to move forward with The Gateway Project, the new railway tunnels to be built under the Hudson River, is about as nonpartisan as an issue can be in this part of the world. After completion, the tunnels would provide quicker and safer public transport to New York's Penn Station for residents of Montclair and many other New Jersey commuter towns. Almost all local politicians from New York and New Jersey, including those in Congress support the proposal which would vastly improve the economy of the region and the environment, as well as the lives of commuters. That the project came very close to reaching fruition makes the situation all the more distressing. So, how exactly was defeat snatched from the jaws of victory?

First thanks go to Chris Christie, who while campaigning for governor said he supported the new construction. However, once in office, Christie, wanting to showcase his conservative bona fides in preparation for a run for president, said there would be substantial cost overruns and that Jersey residents would be on a "never ending hook.” A Government Accountability Report stated the costs at most would have been $12.4 billion and the state's real share would only have been 14.4 percent. A small gasoline tax (eventually enacted) could have been used to cover the costs but Christie was more concerned with his political ambitions than his constituents.

The second politician in opposition to the project is President Donald Trump. Although initially quite supportive of the proposal, on March 6, 2018, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, speaking on Trump's behalf, asked Speaker Paul Ryan to block funding for the multi-billion dollar railway tunnel project. The stated reason was one of fairness - that New York and New Jersey were said to have "no skin in the game." Democrats and some Republicans say Trump's real motivation was to knock Chuck Schumer, seen as an antagonist to the president's agenda. When New York and New Jersey officials tried to bring the project back to life by referencing an agreement made at the end of the Obama Administration whereby the Federal government would pay half the costs and the two states the other half, the Trump administration declined to consider the offer. As Peter King, (R, NY) and a Trump supporter said, "The President made a commitment on Gateway. This isn't some New York project. This is the entire country and it would be really disastrous not to go ahead with it - especially if it's based on some vendetta against Chuck Schumer."

For a bit of historical perspective, construction on the existing tunnels under the Hudson began in 1907. The Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk was in 1903 and the building of the Titanic commenced in 1909.

As citizens, our only remedy is to get out and vote, do it. And tell your family, friends and neighbors to get out and vote. Think about it, the next time you take the train, you may have some extra time on your hands.

Arthur Portnoy