NPR logo Meet The Jazz Audience: Grey Gersten

Meet The Jazz Audience

Meet The Jazz Audience: Grey Gersten

In the last few decades, June has become the busiest month for jazz in New York City, home to the biggest jazz scene in the world. But who is actually going to these shows? A small team of Bloggers Supreme has been attending the festivities — primarily, the CareFusion Jazz Festival New York. In between our reports on various goings-on, we'll be talking to the some of the people who are actually in the audience. We start off every conversation with the simple question: how did you hear about this show? And be sure to check out more of our Meet The Jazz Audience series. —Ed.

Grey Gersten, 26
Performer: Anthony Coleman
Venue: Barbes (Park Slope, Brooklyn)
Event: CareFusion Jazz Festival New York
Date: Jun. 20, 2010

Grey Gersten of Park Slope, Brooklyn, N.Y., with his girlfriend. Lara Pellegrinelli hide caption

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Lara Pellegrinelli

Grey Gersten of Park Slope, Brooklyn, N.Y., with his girlfriend.

Lara Pellegrinelli

So what brings you to hear Anthony Coleman? I'm a musician and a filmmaker. I've actually played with Anthony before.

I thought you might be a musician, the way you were sitting where you could see the keyboard. No, that was just because I came really late. My darling just had a housewarming party and these were actually the only seats open. I wanted to sit down because I was really tired. I sat on the floor in the back but I was told that wasn't allowed.

The nerve of them. Are you at least a pianist? I don't really play piano. I play guitar. I love ragtime music and I was telling my girlfriend that I might have been a ragtime musician in a previous life. I really feel like I'm slowly remembering things about that music.

With the kinds of places Jelly Roll Morton was playing in, I think I'd be worried if my boyfriend said he was a ragtime musician in a previous life. [Girlfriend:] That's where my family comes from, New Orleans. My grandmother was a working girl.

Uh, right. Do you know how he got his name?

Jelly Roll? That's a euphemism for— Well, we figured that. But we were curious: did he give it to himself? Or was this a nickname he earned?

Can't say I have specific knowledge of that. What did you think of this performance? I thought it was really lovely. I saw Anthony do a very avant-garde set a couple of years ago and he threw in one Jelly Roll Morton tune in the middle of all this noise. I was excited to hear this years later, knowing he's been working on it. I really love it. It was nice enough to be close enough to hear his foot, stomping on the ground.

How do you make sense of this, an avant-garde musician playing early jazz? It doesn't surprise me at all. I think a lot of people who played improvised music are also deeply involved in traditional music. Free jazz and ragtime are more similar than different.

As a musician, do you pay attention to festivals like CareFusion? I'm not really a festival person. I rarely go because I play a lot of shows and see my friends' shows. I think festivals are a great destination for people who don't get out to see music as much as maybe they'd want to. You can pack in a lot. I don't really know much about this festival honestly. I just know Anthony and we come here because it's right by my house. So it was like, cool, he's playing his Jelly Roll stuff around the corner. We gotta go.