Jazz Lives: Your Self Help Guide To Live Jazz

Jazz Lives: Your Self Help Guide To Live Jazz
James Kelly
December 1999

“So the set is about to begin. Relax, enjoy and remember to try to give something back to the many talented men and women who dedicate their lives to furthering the American Art Form- JAZZ.”

This jazz lives column is designed to help you to find some of the most exciting music being played on the planet today. Many say that New York City is the center of the World today. This is certainly true when it comes to the jazz world. Those of you who are fortunate enough to live or visit here have the opportunity to partake in the excitement of listening to live jazz. Today people in the most remote corners of the globe are able to hear a wide variety jazz through CD’s as well as radio stations on the Internet. In the near future we will have almost immediate access to vast libraries of music on demand through cable and satellite. However, nothing comes close to seeing and experiencing live jazz performances. There are thousands of wonderfully talented musicians who give of themselves to perform. It is important that we give back. So keep on buying those CD’s, listen to your favorite radio programs, but go out and see live performances and directly support the musicians.

Think of this column as the three R’s of jazz. It is divided into three sections,RecommendationsResources and ReviewsRecommendations contains suggestions on upcoming live jazz performances you may be interested. Resourcesis the most important section. It gives you links and resources so you may plan your own jazz adventures. Reviews include some brief comments on recent live performances, recordings and artists.

So the set is about to begin. Relax, enjoy and remember to try to give something back to the many talented men and women who dedicate their lives to furthering the American Art Form- JAZZ.


Let’s start the year 2000 off with adventurously. On January 7, 2000, beginning at 7:30, Arts for Art Presents a program called Mercurial Visions at the Mercury Lounge, located at Houston St. and Avenue A. 212 260-4700. This is going to be like a mini-Vision Festival. Those of you who have had the pleasure of attending the Vision Festival over the past four years know what I’m talking about, so go and fasten your seat belts. Performers include William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Roy Campbell, Jameel Moondoc, Rob Brown and Rashid Bakr. Patricia Nicholson who organizes the Vision Festival will also perform. You should note that the artists’ request that you wear white. By the way all this only will set you back $12, so what are you waiting for? You can buy a new pair of white pants with the money you save.

A few more conventional recommendations. Tommy Flannagan and the trio will be at the Jazz Standard from January 1st through the 9th. You can see Winton Marsalls and a septet January 3rd through the 9th at the Village Vanguard. He will also lead the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra at Lincoln Center in a performance entitled Cubana Be, Cubana Bop. This will feature Paquito D’Rivera and the one and only Chucho Valdes on January 20th and 22nd at Alice Tully Hall and on January 21stat Lehman Center for the Performing Arts.

Lets stay on the Cuban scene. Some the artists from the movie the Buena Vista Social Club including Ibrahim Ferrer and Rubin Gonzalez will appear at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on February 3rd. Finally the Afro-Cuban All Stars will appear at Town Hall on March 18th.

There are some interesting events at the Knitting Factory in January. Kuumba Frank Lacy’s Vibe Tribe will appear every Monday in January at 8 and 10. TheMatthew Shipp Trio will be there on January 4th at 8 and 10.

Finally the Mingus Big Band Workshop appears at the Fez Under Time Café every Thursday evening, with sets at 9:30 and 11:30. So if your week is dragging, give yourself a boost as they raise the roof of the Fez every Thursday.



If you only have time to check one resource, this is the one. Margaret Davis has dedicated her life to jazz. You will see her attending many of the live performances in New York. Check out the upcoming events section of her web site often. She always has a very comprehensive listing of live jazz, some of which you will not find elsewhere.


The Village Vanguard is the premier jazz club in the world. Go and listen to the John Coltrane live recordings and then go to the club where history was and is still being made.


Now lets travel downtown to the Knitting Factory. Although not exclusively a jazz club, the Knitting Factory books some of the most important and exciting jazz acts today. They have four separate performance areas and there is always something interesting going on at the Knit, so check it out. You especially want to keep posted on their annual festival, which occurs in June.


Back to the Village to Sweet Basil. While it may not have all the history of the Vanguard you can see some of the finest jazz performers here almost any day of the week. If you are only in New York for a short visit you can check out both the Vanguard and Sweet Basil the same night since they are only a few blocks apart on 7th Avenue.


Jazz is finally getting some of the recognition it so justly deserves. Lincoln Center has an outstanding jazz program. A separate venue is now in the works at Lincoln Center, so we can look forward to a more intimate performance space in the future.


When we say that New York is the jazz capital of the world, we mean the greater New York area. New Jersey is now the home to many great jazz musicians and there is quite a bit of live music as well. Check out Shanghai Jazz for great music and food as well.


The Blue Note books top world class jazz talent and it is usually reflected in the cover charge. This is the club were legendary recordings by Oscar Peterson and Keith Jarrett were made.


The location has changed, so this is not the place where John Coltrane recorded Afro Blue. Birdland has moved several times and is now located on West 44th St. It is a great space for the music and the food is very good as well.


Here are some listing for New Jersey clubs and venues. You should especially check out The Priory at St. Joseph Plaza, 233 W. Market St., Newark. (973) 242-8012. Jazz in the Atrium: 7-11 p.m. Fridays. No cover. admission. I repeat no cover, admission, just great jazz, you dig.


Speaking of no cover, admission check out Jazz at MoMA. That’s the Museum of Modern Art. Established musicians and emerging artists perform a variety of jazz standards, as well as original compositions reflecting the vitality and trends of today’s jazz scene. Live jazz is performed on Friday evenings. The first set is at 5:30 PM and the second set is at 7:00 PM. Jazz is free with Museum admission which is pay what you wish on Fridays from 4:30-8:15 PM. For further details, please call (212) 708-9491.

There is so much more going on. How do you keep up and make sure you don’t miss the many outstanding events coming up. Here are a few suggestions. If you have the opportunity to be in Manhattan, pick up the Village Voice and the New York Press. They are both free weekly publications with extensive music listings and club ads. The press comes out on Tuesdays and the voice on Wednesdays and you can find them in the boxes on many street corners. I would also recommend the listing in Time Out New York (TONY) that comes out weekly. TONY also has an excellent listing of upcoming events as well as a comprehensive listing of addresses and phone numbers.


Clement Perry, myself and jazz newcomer Terry Smoak visited the Knit a few weeks ago to see Alex Blake featuring Pharoah Sanders. You just knew it was going to be a great performance when you walked into the club and John Hicks was there. This was a live recording date so look for Alex’s new CD scheduled for release in the Spring. In a word INTENSE! Alex Blake should not remain unknown for very long the way he performed with such legendary cats such as Pharoah and Hicks. What a performance!

Speaking of Hicks and Sanders, you should get the CD Journey To The One if you don’t already have it.

There were several great performances at NJPAC over the past several months. The legendary Sonny Rollins performed there several weeks ago and Chucho Valdes and Danilo Perez brought the house down when they performed.

Get ready to settle down for the winter. There are several box sets by John Coltrane that will help keep you warm inside while the wind-chill factor is below zero. Check out the Atlantic box set The Heavyweight Champion and the more recently released The Classic Quartet –Complete Impulse Studio Recordings.

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