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Jazz in the City public health concerts expand services



Larry Luttinger


Jazz in the City public health concerts expand services

Syracuse Community Health fights the virus in Syracuse

Syracuse NY – May 2022 to date. Over 70 daily hospitalizations, over 200 daily reported infections, and 3 deaths. These current numbers tell the tale of a virus that continues to produce deadly results in Central New York, with a surge to 100 million new infections projected nationally by year’s end. Syracuse’s urban ZIP codes still trail the region in all pandemic indicators. Other health needs have gone undetected during the pandemic, causing serious residual effects to the urban community at large.

In response, Syracuse Community Health is again leading an aggressive public health outreach effort to fight back, using the arts as a mobile platform to broadcast this message across the city to bring people together, provide them with the joy of congregating to enjoy music, food, and fun, receive health service information and tools, offer consultation and screening to those without the resources for regular healthcare appointments, and incentivize the vaccine-reluctant to step up and help push back against the numbers: the Jazz in the City Public Health Concert Series.

The concerts will feature national artists, the best local bands, and neighborhood-based opening acts by community groups. Each concert features food and arts and crafts vendors, and an extensive “healthcare village” of local health and human service organizations. Guest speakers will take the stage during intermissions. New this year is the donation of 5,000 test kits by Onondaga County, distributed in  goodie bags stuffed with health services information. New York Lottery scratch-off tickets will be awarded as incentives for those getting vaccinated, boosted, or screened.

Most importantly, the health center is expanding its array of event services to include consultations and screenings including body mass index, hypertension, plus vaccinations and boosters. The Prevention Network is donating 50 NARCAN kits and mandatory training in their use.

Said Keith Cuttler, COO of the health center, “Syracuse Community Health is proud to continue its partnership with CNY Jazz Central to offer the Jazz in the City Public Health Festival Concert Series this summer. This series connects the communities we serve with outstanding jazz musicians and vital health information and providers. By rotating through our city’s beautiful parks, these events bring music and health directly to the people of the city, right in their own neighborhoods.”

Mayor Ben Walsh added, “Jazz in the City played a key role last summer in helping fight misinformation and overcoming fear related to COVID-19. CNY Jazz uses music to bring people together to get outdoors, enjoy our parks and focus on living healthier lives,” said Mayor Walsh. “Plus, Jazz in the City goes beyond music; it brings art and entertainment from many artists into our neighborhoods. Come for the music and food, stay for the healthy connections.” 

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said, “Onondaga County is proud to once again partner for another season of “Jazz in the City”. It is especially appropriate that the focus of the series this year remains on public health as we learn to live with COVID-19 while addressing the many other consequences that this pandemic has caused.” McMahon continued, “Thank you to the team at CNY Jazz for their efforts and the Syracuse Community Health Center for their partnership.”

The live concerts will be matched by a high visibility and highly targeted media campaign. Media personality George Kilpatrick, who lost his mother in the pandemic, will again lead a summer-long messaging campaign, and 100 Black Men of Syracuse will serve as the series volunteer corps. Larry Luttinger, leader of CNY Jazz, observed, “We’re not claiming we did this on our own, but last year, the vaccination rate in our most vulnerable ZIP code, 13204, from 27% to 44% during this awareness and outreach campaign. We all worked together to move the needle toward controlling this virus, keeping it in check, and minimizing it. I urge every city resident to become part of the solution this summer by doing their part and being smart about family health practices.”

The talent lineup for the series is prodigious, and includes chart-topping smooth jazz, contemporary jazz, classic soul, and RnB acts. The funky Urban Jazz Coalition returns from the Midwest for the kickoff concert in Kirk Park, New York City’s finest modern salsa outfit 3D Rhythm of Life provides a dance party at Skiddy Park, horn-driven regional legend Atlas performs in Leavenworth Park, the Billboard #1 breakout team of Deepak Thettu and Judah Sealy concertize in Schiller Park,  a legacy double bill of U.A.D. Kings of the Fall and The Blacklites will hold court at Dunk & Bright, and female flutist, saxophonist and singer Paula Atherton, up from New York City, closes the series in Thornden Park.

“The arts are a powerful platform for change and community awareness, as well as being a positive social and economic engine, and we’re leveraging all that and more with this unique mobile cultural platform,” said Larry Luttinger, leader of CNY Jazz. “I don’t know of any other effort like this in the country. Come to these concerts to enjoy high energy family-friendly entertainment, food, crafts, and more, and take advantage of the health center’s onsite services and healthcare village information booths while there. This series has been a model of civic and corporate leadership every summer since 2003. We can’t wait to get started.”

All concerts are free and open to the public, and no alcohol is served. For more information visit  

Concert Series Schedule (all events Thursdays 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.)

June 9 – Urban Jazz Coalition at Kirk Park, Argyle Terrace and W. Borden Ave.

June 23 – 3D Rhythm of Life at Skiddy Park, 300 Oswego St.

July 7 – Atlas at Leavenworth Park 120 Wilkinson St.

July 21 – Deepak Thettu & Judah Sealy at Schiller Park, Farmer Street and Whitwell Dr.

August 4 – U.A.D. Kings of the Fall & The Blacklites at Dunk & Bright, 2648 S. Salina St.

August 18 – Paula Atherton at Thornden Park, Thornden Park Drive and Greenwood Pl.