Autumn jazz: club reopenings and new releases

James on Jazz
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Jazz club re-openings, jazz artist birthdays, and new jazz releases offer plenty of reasons to celebrate and enjoy the month of October. 

Jazz clubs have been the hardest hit of all music venues during the pandemic, and the hope is that the worst is over, noted Avery Kleinman in a recent Washington Post article. He pointed out that during the summer some clubs around the U.S. began reopening, and many musicians were and are still eager to get back on stage. 

That is certainly the case both here and abroad. Only recently, a growing list of musicians have posted touring dates both in the U.S. and internationally that are quite extensive. 

Kleinman’s article states, “The closures are part of a decades-long trend exacerbated by the pandemic. Although many have triumphantly reopened their doors in recent weeks and months, jazz clubs were the hardest hit of all types of music venues, according to Audrey Fix Schaefer, the head of communications at the National Independent Venue Association. The group was created during the pandemic to advocate for venues that were languishing for months without revenue.”

“Keep in mind that jazz clubs are probably the most vulnerable to begin with,” Schaefer was quoted as saying. “They operate on really thin margins. These are houses of art. If you’re going to open a blues club or a jazz club, it’s because you are devoted to that art form and love it. It’s not because you are an entrepreneur looking to make gobs of money,” said Schaefer.

The Dakota Club, which features jazz in downtown Minneapolis, reopened in September. Preservation Hall in New Orleans reopened in June. The Jazz Standard in New York City and Blue Whale in Los Angeles are two popular jazz venues that unfortunately remain closed. 

Besides celebrating the reopening of many jazz clubs, including the iconic Village Vanguard and the well-known Birdland in New York City, October is a time to celebrate birthdays, too. 

Courtesy of jazzdepot.com

Celebrating their lives, legacies, and music

October jazz musicians celebrating birthdays include the late trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who on Oct.16 would have been 52. Another great trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis, celebrated a milestone birthday as he turned 60 on Oct 18. 

The legendary Jelly Roll Morton, who proclaimed himself the inventor of jazz, celebrated a birthday on Oct 20. 

Jazz fans are super excited about the release of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle.” Recordings from Coltrane’s 1965 live set featuring “A Love Supreme” stayed in Seattle bandleader Joe Brazil’s basement for years. Now a full album is being released on Oct. 22 on the Impulse! label. 

This is significant news as “A Love Supreme” is one of the most beloved music albums of jazz. Included on the four-part suite are featured musicians including Coltrane’s rhythm section: Elvin Jones on drums, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, plus tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, a second bassist, Donald “Rafael” Garrett, and alto saxophonist Carlos Ward. 

Speaking of rare live recordings, saxophonist Houston Person’s new album “Live in Paris” (The City of Love) from High Note is the real deal. It features Houston on tenor saxophone in soulful, fine form and a first-class rhythm section that includes Ben Paterson on the B3 organ, Peter Bernstein on guitar, and Willie Jones III on drums. The album was released on September 24. 

The live recording took place during Person’s appearance at the Festival Jazz a la Villette in 2019. “I just play good music,” said Houston. “I look for a great melody and great lyrics.” This is the 86-year-old’s first live recording in a while.  

Among the stellar and stylish tunes from the album are “The Way We Were,” “Since I Fell for You,” and “Sunny.” 

Guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke’s new album “Close Your Eyes” (Soundscore Records) came out Oct. 22 and features bassist Reuben Rodgers and drummer Eric Harland. It’s his first record of standards and was originally a vinyl exclusive on Newvelle Records in 2018. Now it’s available on streaming services and CD or download via iTunes and Band Camp.

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