Sunday jazz parlor in family's living room offers 30 years of solace from grief

ByChristina Georgiou Localish logo
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Jazz parlor in family's living room offers 30 years of solace
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This parlor jazz tradition continues to bring people together, making Sundays in Sugar Hill Harlem truly special.

SUGAR HILL, MANHATTAN -- For nearly three decades, Harlem's Sugar Hill neighborhood has been home to a unique and enchanting tradition that has drawn jazz lovers from around the world.

Marjorie Eliot, alongside her son Rudel Drears, has transformed her living room into a jazz parlor, hosting stirring concerts in honor of her late son Phillip, who died from kidney disease in 1992. Through music, Eliot found solace by turning her grief into an offering of love for the community.

Every Sunday since 1995, rain or shine, holidays or not, this parlor has become a safe space for both musicians and listeners to find connection through jazz, a testament to the enduring power of art and community.

"It's really word of mouth - which is a powerful thing," Eliot said.

These jazz sessions are warm, welcoming, and free of any fees or entry charges. Attendees simply need to show up at 2:30 on Sunday afternoons.

Rudel Drears, a pianist himself, frequently performs alongside his mother, crafting an atmosphere where people bond, share emotions, and find comfort in the rhythms and melodies.

"Performing with my mother every single Sunday in our family home, it's my life force," he said.

Their "parlor family," a group of regular attendees, has grown over the years, united by the threads of melody and memory.

In an era of constant change, Parlor Jazz stands as a testament to the enduring strength of human connection, turning Sundays into a source of hope, reflection, and unity.

"We're all in this together. Sunday after Sunday people come in good spirits. For me and my mother, that means everything," Drears said.