Dennis Lichtman is on a mission: to acquaint everyone with the rich jazz history of Queens.

Many might have an idea that the borough was once home to big names — such as Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Fats Waller, Lena Horne, Billie Holliday and, of course, Louis Armstrong — but some may not fully realize the impact Queens and its culture of musical legends had on the earliest permutations of jazz as we know it.

Lichtman, a clarinetist, violinist and Long Island City resident for 10 years, said he didn’t know much about Queens’ early jazz heritage until around five years ago, when he connected with more experts on the topic, such as those at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona.

The Boston-area native also confessed he didn’t know much about Queens itself upon moving here, but was drawn to the borough for many of the same reasons the musicians he admires were: more space, lower rents and, ultimately, a bustling culture of passionate musicians.


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