On The Sunny Side Of The Street – Volume 20

With Bruce Heckman, JAZZ HOUSE 15th Anniversary Gala

On The Sunny Side of The Street


Dear Friends and Families,

With Bruce Heckman, JAZZ HOUSE 15th Anniversary Gala
With Bruce Heckman, JAZZ HOUSE 15th Anniversary Gala

I write you sharing personal stories about two remarkable individuals who have influenced my life — a poignant reminder of the magic in the Power of Music. Each of us live lives shaped by forging lasting relationships with people, often beginning unremarkably, but becoming extraordinary over time.

This week, we profile RALPH PUCCI, whose passion for jazz is seen in all he does.

A jazz drummer in his early years, Ralph is a visionary in furniture design, a global influencer and successful entrepreneur. He has turned a family mannequin business into a thriving and vibrant NYC gallery and showroom regarded as one of the best in the world, now with locations in Miami and LA. I’ve learned so much from watching Ralph navigate his business in an ever-changing environment that has caused him to create, innovate and improvise. At the JAZZ HOUSE we know a thing or two about that!! The inspiration for the annual RALPH PUCCI Jazz Set came after Ralph attended a special evening with Christian and the great Pat Metheny at the home our long-standing board member and generous supporter, Neal Lazar (wow! so many kind people). Since then we’ve had many remarkable evenings in support of our full mission at RALPH PUCCI in NYC.

Ralph’s personal story demonstrates resiliency, grit and a powerful dose of swing, keeping things beautiful. We thank you Ralph — your support has been a lifesaver, especially during this challenging time.

Today, as life would have it, Christian and I will attend the outdoor home-going to celebrate the extraordinary life of one of our dearest friends and champions of the JAZZ HOUSE: Dr. BRUCE HECKMAN. Bruce was one of our very first board members, joining the organization in all of its glory when meetings were held around my kitchen table and the JAZZ HOUSE office was in our guest bedroom. Bruce was one of the warmest, most vibrant, brilliant, compassionate, empathetic, funny, talented, insightful, unassuming, creative, kindhearted, visionary people that I’ve had the good fortune of knowing.

Bruce and his wife Lynn adopted me some 25 years ago when we met at a small wedding party for Lynn’s sister. I was performing in a duo with the great guitarist Paul Bollenback! One of the best decisions I ever made was playing that small private affair because it would lead to a lifelong friendship. (Our faculty always tell our students, take all gigs! You never know where they will lead.)

Bruce became one of our most ardent supporters. You could literally set your clock by the Heckman’s attendance at just about everything we did (even online, they came to our virtual holiday party in December), never to miss a chance to catch a live jazz concert in the city with their friends from the JAZZ HOUSE. Bruce loved our vibrant community and adored our mission, and year after year, he saw the results of our efforts in the lives of the hundreds of young people he heard and met. Bruce got a special thrill out of going to see our many emerging musicians on the professional scene today and hearing about the professional careers our students were forging off the stage as well.

Dr. Bruce Heckman had an impactful career in internal medicine, practicing in Ossining, NY from 1974 until 2018. Among his many accomplishments, he was founder of Phelps Hospice and served as medical director for 35 years. Not one to retire, he continued his visionary commitment to patient care as a Palliative Care medicine physician at New York – Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital for the past two years. Read more about Bruce’s remarkable life here.

When recently discussing the many struggles of the day, Bruce noted frankly, “Weary, I’ll say. Look down that lonesome road – but it’s not lonesome — family, friends, and JHK.” Always hopeful, Bruce left me with a good memory and said, “I saw and heard Dianne Reeves at the Berkshire Jazz Festival years ago. I thought she levitated off the stage when she did “In Your Eyes.” Rest in peace my friend and thank you for changing my life.

I think we could all use a little magic of the power of music right about now…here’s to the many many good people in our lives. Cherish them…
Wishing you good health and peace,

Melissa Walker signature

Melissa Walker
Founder + President



Passion for Jazz Hits the Right Notes for JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Partnership

“Jazz runs through RALPH PUCCI veins, both the person and the place. It is the soundtrack that fills our galleries.”
– Ralph Pucci

New York City is known for its swinging jazz clubs and RALPH PUCCI, president of RALPH PUCCI INTERNATIONAL and a huge jazz fan, always dreamed of opening up his own. But running a leading luxury furniture, lighting and mannequin company with special gallery showrooms filled with limited-edition designs in New York, Miami and Los Angeles keeps his hands very full. Building up from his father’s mannequin repair business, Ralph built what RALPH PUCCI INTERNATIONAL is today — a company on the cutting edge of furniture, art and design and busier than ever. Ralph brings his passion to work every day with art exhibitions and jazz music part of the ambience in every showroom.

Ralph Pucci, Melissa Walker and Christian McBride

Six years ago, Ralph was introduced to the dynamic jazz duo CHRISTIAN McBRIDE and MELISSA WALKER, and learned more about the mission of JAZZ HOUSE KiDS. Together, they created a one-of-a-kind event, the annual RALPH PUCCI Jazz Set, helping Ralph realize his lifelong dream of turning his flagship New York design gallery into a world-class jazz club while providing a vital impact on the nonprofit organization.



Christian welcomes world-renowned musician composer, and cultural ambassador, WYNTON MARSALIS to the 5th Annual RALPH PUCCI Jazz Set — on March 18th sponsor and VIP meet + greet and live taping and general tickets on March 31st for the premiere of the livestream broadcast.

“This event is always spectacular.” said Ralph. “Just like in a real downtown jazz club, our audience is part of the intimate experience. With Wynton and Christian, two of the most omnipresent figures and cultural ambassadors of our time, this year will be really incredible, even virtually. We initially thought of postponing since we couldn’t do it in person, but we decided to keep the music playing since we all have to keep moving forward,” said Ralph. “If there was ever a time to keep helping this organization, which is doing tremendous work, it’s right now.”
With George Wein and audience in 2020
The annual RALPH PUCCI Jazz Set is a great example of how one man’s personal passion can turn into a fruitful partnership. “I tell people to find their own passion and dream big — incorporate it into the fabric of our business, and make it part of the corporate DNA,” said Ralph.

We thank RALPH PUCCI for being a champion of jazz and JAZZ HOUSE KiDS, his visionary leadership, friendship and generosity in hosting the annual JAZZ SET.


Settling into the famous blue JAZZ HOUSE chairs at the 2016 [iNSiDE] THE JAZZ NOTE benefit, WYNTON MARSALIS discusses with host CHRISTIAN McBRIDE the importance of being loud and proud about supporting the arts as example to others, especially our youth. Give a listen!



Wednesday, February 3 @ 6:30 pm
[iNSiDE] THE JAZZ NOTE® Guest Artist Series
Alice Coltrane: The Swamini Who Swung
Hosted by ASHLEY KAHN with special guest harpist BRANDEE YOUNGER, Curated by TED CHUBB
When John Coltrane suddenly succumbed to liver cancer in July of 1967, the 30-year old pianist Alice McLeod Coltrane found herself a widow with four children, with no career of her own to speak of, and the burden of preserving her husband’s legacy. In less than a year, she learned to play harp, signed with Impulse Records, began recording a singular fusion of musical styles unlike any other, and set upon a spiritual journey of her own that would lead her to become a swamini, a Vedic leader establishing an ashram in southern California. Through video and musical excerpts, we will celebrate and examine an African American woman who defied convention to create a musical legacy that resonates as strongly today-almost fifteen years since her passing in 2007-as when she first recorded them. Welcome to the world of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda. Om shanti.
Presented with Educational Partner, The Apollo Theater

Alice Coltrane: The Swamini Who Swung with Ashley Kahn and Brandee Younger

Wednesday, February 10 @ 6:30 pm
[iNSiDE] THE JAZZ NOTE® Guest Artist Series
The 1980s: 2nd Renaissance of Jazz
An era of dynamic virtuoso musicians led by the likes of Wynton and Branford Marsalis, known as the “Young Lions”, ushered in the resurgence of acoustic, straight ahead swinging jazz with a strong sense of tradition. The 1980s also saw the resurgence of giants from decades past of the likes Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, and Art Blakey. Get a first hand account of this fascinating renaissance and how it shaped jazz music for the decades that would follow.
Presented with educational partner, John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University

Jazz’s 2nd Renaissance The 80’s with Christian McBride


View our full schedule of [iNSiDE] THE JAZZ NOTE® Guest Artist Series sessions


Inside the Jazz Note Sponsors

March 11+ 12
2nd Trimester Student Watch Party


Thursday, March 18
5:00 PM – VIP Virtual Cocktail Reception + Meet & Greet with Artists
6:00 PM – Virtual Backstage Concert Pass to Live Show Taping from RALPH PUCCI
Wednesday, March 31
8:00 PM – Ticketed livestream of “The Lowdown: Conversations with Christian®” an intimate concert + conversation featuring WYNTON MARSALIS backed by the hottest young musicians on the scene.

(March 18 Meet & Greet/Live Taping + March 31 Livestream Broadcast)

(March 18 Meet & Greet/Live Taping + March 31 Livestream Broadcast)
(March 31 Livestream Broadcast)
Ralph Pucci 5th Annual Jazz Set featuring Wynton Marsalis and Christian McBride






  • Appaloosa Management Charitable Foundation Inc
  • ASCAP Foundation Louis Armstrong Fund
  • Coastal Community Foundation of
    South Carolina
  • Cool Wind Ventilation Corp
  • Devils Care Foundation
  • E.J. Grassmann Trust
  • The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
  • Holly English and Fred Smagorinsky
  • Gia Maione Prima Foundation
  • The Hearst Foundation
  • The Herb Alpert Foundation
  • Hudson Media, Inc.
  • Hyde and Watson Foundation
  • J.T. Magen & Company
  • Susan and Chris Gifford
  • Kenneth Goldman Donor Fund
  • Manhattan Mechanical Contractors



  • New Jersey State Council on
    the Arts
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • PSEG Foundation
  • Ralph Pucci International
  • The Peter Kiernan and Eaddo Kiernan Foundation
  • Nerissa Radell and Russell Gioiella
  • Rita and Terry Woodard
  • Mikhail and Sofia Segal
  • Janet Shapiro and Phillip Byrd
  • Silver Family Foundation
  • Sandra Smith
  • TD Charitable Foundation
  • Turrell Fund
  • Verizon Foundation
  •  The Victoria Foundation
  • York Capital Managemen
  • and many other generous donors…




“I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up in the morning and see the light.”

~ Miles Davis