It's the scene that contributed to the sound of both my father and my husband--or should I say they contributed to it. I guess we're a family example of what this article is getting at -- the Italian/African jazz dance that's gone on for decades in western NY.
It was just that sort of cross-pollination that got Chris Melito interested in jazz when he was growing up near the Public Market in the 1940s. When he went to concerts, like the one featuring Duke Ellington's Orchestra at the Sports Arena at EdgertonPark, there was a mixed audience. Jazz was one thing that brought blacks and whites together in Rochester. "We just listened," Melito says. "There was no awareness. Back in those days you didn't think black and white in regard to music, just good and bad."
Of course, me thinks the author and Mr. M. might be forgetting how close a neighbor Africa is to Sicily, but anywho... I do agree that there is something entirely fascinating about the genetic makeup and talent level of the Rochester jazz scene.
An amazing historic site here on the area and Jazz--I just emailed Noal to let him know about my father, who played with Mike Arena and Joe Romano, both mentioned on the site.
All in a day's work.