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How the Head of a Jazz Nonprofit Spends Her Sundays

Alina Bloomgarden started Music on the Inside, a nonprofit that connects jazz artists with incarcerated people (or those recently released from prisons and jails) for lessons, concerts and mentoring. Her inspiration for founding the program seven years ago was Louis Armstrong, who was arrested as a boy and sent to reform school, where he learned to play the horn.

“That changed his life,” she said. “I thought, what are we doing for young people and adults going through the criminal justice system now?” Ms. Bloomgarden, who was a founding producer of Jazz at Lincoln Center, brought on Wynton Marsalis, a former colleague and friend, as an artistic adviser for her initiative.

Since then, teaching artists like Antoinette Montague and Arturo O’Farrill have shared their skills and experiences in jails and prisons throughout New York, including Rikers. With the pandemic, Music on the Inside shifted online, and more than 200 artists signed up to volunteer. One Sunday a month, a Zoom concert brings students and professionals together; the next show, Musicians for Justice, is Jan. 16.

Ms. Bloomgarden, 77, lives on the Upper West Side.

CAFFEINE-FREE When I wake up on Sunday mornings, maybe about 8:30, the first thing I do is have half an apple and some walnuts. I stopped drinking coffee because I once went to the Dalai Lama’s doctor and he told me not to. The first year I stopped was hard. I would go to Lincoln Center and have one cup, and that one cup I really needed. Now it’s apples and walnuts.

ON CALL Sunday mornings are about catching up with whatever work I need to do, all the stuff you’d normally think of when you think of nonprofit work: fund-raising, grant-writing. If there’s a concert that night, we’ll have a soundcheck at 1 p.m. Richard Miller, one of our great guitar teachers, manages that, but I’m on call for anything that needs to be done, so I don’t leave the apartment. The Jazz Foundation of America has been tremendously important in helping us identify teaching artists like Richard. Every time he had a gig before Covid, he would stand up and tell people he needs guitars for our program, and people would donate them. We’ve also gotten keyboards donated. They go right to the correctional facilities or the individuals we work with.

PARK POD In the afternoon, I go for a walk around Riverside Park with my friend Roni Alpert and her dog, Flo. Flo is very attached to me. Roni and I actually met in Riverside Park. David Ostwald’s Band would play there, at the Warsaw Memorial, every day when the weather was nice during Covid. We became a pod with a few other friends. I might see a friend from the synagogue. I’m a renewed Jew. I spent 30 years studying Buddhism, then I came back to Judaism, to Romemu, a progressive organization on the Upper West Side. We might talk about what we’re learning with the rabbi, David Ingber.

DANCE CARD: FULL Another thing I might do is try to find a dance to go to. I’ve always been a dancer; I was a dance major in college. Right now I’m into ballroom and swing. Swing 46 sometimes has a dance, or Tavern on the Green. A lot of people ask me to dance. If you’ve been around the dance scene for a while, people really enjoy dancing with you. Barry Harris, who just died, was really the one who inspired me about jazz. I was first introduced to him through my friend Travis Peace, who used to go to Barry Harris’s Jazz Cultural Theater to study sax with him. There was something about that environment that was really transformative.

SUPPER CLUB OR SPAGHETTI If we have a concert, it’s from 6 to 7. I’ll be home for the Zoom. After that, I might go to Dizzy’s Club for dinner and more jazz. I’ll relax there. If not, I’ll cook at home. Before Covid, I never ate things like pasta. For some reason, I got into cooking pasta during Covid. Sometimes I’ll try a different recipe. One thing I tried to make recently was chicken tetrazzini. It wasn’t as good as what I remembered when I first had it at college.

FITFUL BUT GRATEFUL I go to bed at 11 or 12. One of the last things I do is munch on those peanut butter pretzel things from Trader Joe’s. Then I wake up in the night a lot because I’ll get ideas for the program. I’m so moved by the commitment of the musicians, how they want to continue their music and help these populations. So many of our top musicians — Catherine Russell, Don Braden — have contributed their music and their heart and want to do more.

Sunday Routine readers can learn more about Alina Bloomgarden’s work on Instagram @musicontheinsideinc or on Twitter at @MOTIinc.

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‘Devastated’: Crowds Throng Funeral Service for 15 Bronx Fire Victims

A line of black hearses began pulling up outside the doors of the Islamic Cultural Center in the Bronx just after 10 a.m. on Sunday. They maneuvered past throngs of distraught mourners who had flocked to the mosque to say a final goodbye to friends, children, parents and cousins killed in a fire that took the lives of 17 members of a close-knit Gambian community.

Indoors, women consoled each other in a second-floor prayer space as the men gathered downstairs. Outside, two tents were filled with families watching the funeral service on a livestream.

Aminata Sillah, 42, had arrived early. She laid a blue prayer rug on the ground in the frigid morning air, tugging anxiously at her boots.

Ms. Sillah’s aunt, Fatoumata Drammeh, was among those who died on Jan. 9 as acrid smoke filled the apartment building on East 181st Street, suffocating people as they tried to flee the 19-story complex. Ms. Drammeh’s three children also died and were among the 15 people being honored during Sunday’s communal funeral service.

“I’m devastated,” Ms. Sillah said. “It’s been a restless week.”

An imam urged people to clear a path as the coffins, draped in black velvet cloth and held aloft by more than two dozen men, were carried inside the mosque.

“It’s just painful,” Haji Dukuray, 60, said before falling silent as a tiny, child-size coffin was placed near where he sat in the front row on a green prayer rug.

“All this innocence, these young kids,” Mr. Dukuray said. “They have no business being here.”

Yahya Sankara, 33, who lost his sister and two nephews, sighed loudly as his eyes began to tear up.

“My heart is done,” Mr. Sankara said. “I have nothing to say.”

New York’s new mayor, Eric Adams; the state’s attorney general, Letitia James; and Senator Chuck Schumer were among the elected leaders who attended the packed funeral service.

The fire, ignited by a space heater, was the city’s deadliest blaze in decades.

The blaze began just before 11 a.m. on a similarly chilly Sunday morning a week ago. Eight children were among the dead.

As the service started, the imam, Sankung Jeitteh, said he was struggling to control his emotions as he listed the names of families — Dukuray, Drammeh, Jambang, Konteh, Tunkara, Toure — decimated by the blaze.

“When the Lord asks for something, we have no choice but to agree,” he said, adding, “I’m trying to control myself.”

Family members started to quietly sob.

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New York Governor Offers Hopeful Sign as Daily Cases Fall by 47%

Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, warned on Sunday that the Omicron surge of coronavirus cases had not yet peaked nationally, saying that the next few weeks would be very difficult in many parts of the country as hospitalizations and deaths rise.

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Dr. Murthy noted the “good news” of the plateaus and drops in known cases in the Northeast, especially in New York City and New Jersey.

But “the challenge is that the entire country is not moving at the same pace,” he said, adding “we shouldn’t expect a national peak in the coming days.”

“The next few weeks will be tough,” he said.

The highly contagious Omicron variant has fueled an explosive surge of known cases, with an average of more than 800,000 new cases a day reported on Saturday, according to a New York Times database.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, also expressed concerns that the next several weeks would overwhelm hospitals and staff. “Right now we’re at about 150,000 people in the hospital with Covid,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “That’s more than we’ve ever had. I expect those numbers to get substantially higher.”

In addition, Omicron has brought into sharp relief the longstanding lack of adequate testing supplies, with consumers now depleting pharmacies of costly rapid tests — a boxed set of two tests ranges from $14 to $24 — and creating long lines at testing sites.

The federal government has promised to distribute one billion rapid at-home coronavirus tests to Americans, limiting each household to request four free tests. And new federal rules require private insurers to cover up to eight at-home tests per member a month.

But with the test orders and reimbursement processes hampered by delays, Americans will likely not have tests in hand for weeks, which may be too late in some places where demand is high as infections spread.

“We’ve ordered too few testing kits, so our testing capacity has continued to lag behind each wave,” Tom Bossert, the homeland security adviser to President Trump, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s too little and too late, but noteworthy for the next wave.”

While many people infected with Omicron have had no or mild symptoms, others — especially those who were not vaccinated and those with chronic conditions — suffered more serious illnesses that were already overwhelming hospitals in some states late last year.

Dr. Murthy disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision last week that rejected President Biden’s vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers that would have applied to more than 80 million workers.

“Well, the news about the workplace requirement being blocked was very disappointing,” Dr. Murthy said. “It was a setback for public health. Because what these requirements ultimately are helpful for is not just protecting the community at large; but making our workplaces safer for workers as well as for customers.”

Nearly 63 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, but only 38 percent of those have received a booster shot, which some have argued should be the new definition of full vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not changed the definition of full vaccination, but said recently it considers three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s vaccines to be “up-to-date,” as well as Johnson & Johnson’s shots with a second dose, preferably of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech.

Last week, the C.D.C. finally acknowledged that cloth masks do not offer as much protection as a surgical mask or respirator, which some experts have urged the agency to recommend for the general public.

“Please, please get vaccinated,” Dr. Murthy said on ABC, issuing a reminder that the shots still provide good protection against severe illness. “It’s still not too late.”

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Homes That Sold for $520,000 or Less

Each week, our survey of recent residential sales in New York City and the surrounding region focuses on homes that sold around a certain price point, allowing you to compare single-family homes, condos and co-ops in different locales.

The “list price” is the asking price when the property came on the market with the most recent broker. The time on the market is measured from the most recent listing to the closing date of the sale.


This 700-square-foot postwar co-op has hardwood floors, a southern exposure and an open kitchen with a breakfast bar in a non-doorman elevator building with a live-in superintendent.

20 weeks on the market

$375,000 list price

1% below list price

Costs $643 a month in maintenance

Listing broker Keller Williams

Connecticut | 2 bedrooms, 3 baths

This 45-year-old, 2,026-square-foot, semidetached condo has an open floor plan, a kitchen with granite counters and island seating and two decks in a complex for those aged 55 and over.

12 weeks on the market

$439,900 list price

Less than 1% above list price

Costs $9,543 a year in taxes; $463 a month in common charges

A 577-square-foot prewar condo with hardwood floors, an eat-in kitchen with granite counters, a bedroom with French doors and a windowed walk-in closet in a non-doorman walk-up building.

31 weeks on the market

$435,000 list price

6% below list price

Costs $5,168 a year in taxes; $405 a month in common charges

Listing broker Triplemint

Long Island | 2 bedrooms, 2½ baths

This 36-year-old, 1,305-square-foot, townhouse-style condo has a living room with a stone fireplace, two walk-in closets and two decks in a complex with a pool and tennis courts.

17 weeks on the market

$499,000 list price

4% above list price

Costs $13,209 a year in taxes; $350 a month in common charges

Listing broker Douglas Elliman

Westchester | 1 bedroom, 1 bath

A 32-year-old, 774-square-foot condo, with hardwood floors, a pass-through kitchen that has granite counters, and a washer and dryer in a high-rise doorman building with a gym, indoor pool and pond.

21 weeks on the market

$389,000 list price

6% below list price

Costs $4,911 a year in taxes; $569 a month in common charges

Listing broker Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty

A 350-square-foot prewar co-op, with a bath, hardwood floors, two closets and a kitchen with stainless-steel appliances (but no dishwasher), in an elevator building with a doorman and gym.

14 weeks on the market

$325,000 list price

17% below list price

Costs $840 a month in maintenance

Listing broker Keller Williams

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