By Joy Pape and Brian J. Pape
As soon as we started visiting Washington Square Park (WSP), we were entertained by the many musicians. One outstanding performer was Rasheed and The Jazz Collective. A friend introduced us to Rasheed, and we continue to be fascinated by his special talents; we even bought his CDs.
Rasheed Howard was born and raised in Queens, and now lives on Staten Island. He has been playing the trumpet for 39 years. As a young man, he was invited by elder jazz musicians, some of whom had played with Louis Armstrong, to perform with them at Central Park’s Strawberry Fields. Rasheed played regularly with them for about 25 years, until the group was forced to relocate and pick another spot, despite having won the right to play in the parks through a court appeal.
Rasheed researched WSP, and found that John Coltrane had often played at night at a spot on the west side of the park. So this became a special place to play for his own group, The Jazz Collective. (Visit rasheedjazz.com for more information on the performers.)
As City administrations changed, so did park rules, which required event permits and imposed other limitations for park performers. One proposed rule to ban musicians outright set the stage for Doris Diether of Community Board 2 to take up the battle to save the music in the park. WSP has long favored musicians, artists, and athletes performing for the crowds, creating a unique and appealing atmosphere for onlookers and performers alike. The NYC Parks Department wisely dropped the proposal, and saved the music!
Come listen to and enjoy Rasheed and The Jazz Collective on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. when the weather is good. We might even see you there!