East Village All Stars Make Hot Jazz for the Summer
By: Paulanne Simmons
July 8, 2022: If you’d happened to be walking past Greeley Square any late afternoon on a Thursday in June, you would have heard some really hot jazz coming from a group of enthusiastic young men. The band’s name is the East Village All Stars and they are one of the happier creations of the pandemic.
According to one of the band’s founders, trombonist Mark Nagy, he and trumpeter and vocalist Joshua Irizarry (whom he calls “the real star of the show”) had been playing at the East Village Social at St. Marks Place two or three times a week when the pandemic hit, and the owner had to shut down. But in May 2020, he asked them to come back and play outdoors. Soon the duo was drawing such crowds the owner was told by the police he had to stop the entertainment.
Shortly afterwards, Mark and Joshua were joined by drummer Christobal Miranda and they started playing outside bars and “passing the hat.” According to Mark, “We were making a ton of money.”
The group repeated past success in 2021, and in 2022 Ariana Hellerman of the 34thStreet Partnership asked Mark if he could form a band to play in Greeley Square. Mark contacted buddies Nick Trautman (bass) and Leo Mintek (guitar) and the group was formed.
The East Village All Stars plays a mixed repertoire of New Orleans Jazz and old and not-so-old standards. Songs familiar to anyone who loves music: “House of the Rising Sun,” “St. James Infirmary,” “Everybody Loves My Baby” and “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby.” When Joshua puts his trumpet down and sings, he has a gravelly voice that is reminiscent of the great Louis Armstrong.
If you missed the East Village All Stars at Greeley Square, take heart. You can still hear them at St. Mazie in Williamsburg. “A nice supper club,” says Mark, “where we play the late set from 10 to 12:30.”