Plainfield, NJ – The Historical Society of Plainfield will host a lecture entitled, “What Is Jazz and Why Does It Matter” on Sunday, August 5, 2018, starting at 2:00 p.m. at the Drake House Museum. The lecture will given by Michael Conklin, Jazz Historian.

Branford Marsalis once said, “What is jazz? It’s almost like asking, What is French? Jazz is a musical language. It’s a musical dialect that actually embodies the spirit of America.” Sometimes called “America’s Classical Music,” the tradition and history of the genre embodies the essence of freedom and democracy. From its origins within the songs of the enslaved, to the advent of the blues, Dixieland, Swing, Bebop, and other styles, jazz exhibits how each individual (through his/her independence) must function within the framework of a group to better serve the entire community. In this session, through music and discussion, participants will explore jazz and why it matters.

Michael Conklin is an active jazz historian and writer who specializes in jazz history and American music, music of the antebellum South, and issues of race and class. He is presently pursuing his Doctor of Arts and Letters degree at Drew University. He spends the majority of his time teaching and writing; his work can be seen in publications by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Johns Hopkins University. He currently is an Adjunct Instructor at The College of New Jersey in the Departments of Music and African-American Studies.

Sign Up for E-News

This program is funded by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. Seating is limited and is on a first-come first-serve basis. Light refreshments will be served.  Program is free. Donations are always appreciated.

It was at the Drake House that George Washington consulted with his officers during and after the Battle of Short Hills fought over the entire Plainfield area on June 25-27, 1777. On permanent display at the Drake House Museum are three Colonial era rooms--the kitchen, the Queen Anne dining room, and the Washington bedroom. The parlor and the Harberger Library are interpreted as period Victorian rooms. 

The Drake House Museum also displays two large paintings by noted Civil War painter Julian Scott, a Plainfield resident and a Medal of Honor recipient. A National and New Jersey Historic Site, the Drake House Museum is an exciting link to Plainfield’s Revolutionary War history.  

The Drake House Museum is located at 602 West Front Street, Plainfield, New Jersey. Donations are always appreciated. Onsite parking is available. For directions and more information about the Drake House and the Historical Society of Plainfield, visit                                                    

Funding has been made possible in part by the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of Department of State through a grant administered by the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, Department of Parks and Recreation; a HEART Grant from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders; the City of Plainfield; the Plainfield Cultural and Heritage Commission; the Hyde and Watson Foundation; the McCutchen Foundation; the Plainfield Foundation; and the Gannett Foundation.