Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jazz spots

Last February, Down Beat ran an article called "150 Great Jazz Venues." New Yorkers (and most jazz fans) will recognize Birdland, The Blue Note, Joe's Pub, and the Iridium. For the Washington D.C. area, where I grew up, they mention the old stalwart Blues Alley in Georgetown (where I caught Anita O'Day, Carla Cook, and Susannah McCorkle) as well as the U Street corridor's Bohemian Caverns, where R&B singer Ruth Brown got her start and Ramsey Lewis recorded The In Crowd LP in 1965.

Sadly missing was Pennsylvania Avenue's One Step Down, sold to a developer a decade ago for apartments. Among the many luminaries I heard there was the great Shirley Horn, who played as if in a trance, completely one with the music.

In which club venues have you seen your favorite jazz artists?

Down Beat also had a tribute to saxophonist James Moody (1925–2010), who came across as incredibly charismatic and kind. I love what colleague Sonny Rollins said: "It’s nothing to mourn about. It’s not that I’m not sorry we won’t get a chance to hear him play any more or be in his company. That’s true. But it’s also really a joyful moment because he was here in this life and look what he left people, a legacy of wonderful music and the memory of a wonderful person. To know him and think about him brings light to me. We can’t feel sad or sorry. We have to feel good about a man like Moody." Here's a video of Moody with the RIAS Big Band playing "I Can't Get Started."

In this 1968 clip from Copenhagen he plays "Cherokee" on flute and is introduced by his close friend Dizzy Gillespie.

Needless to say, we have loads of CDs featuring many other legendary jazz musicians—many of them cutouts from Concord and Prestige that will never be available again. So nab a few today!


  1. I also loved One Step Down. Saw Shirley Horn at a club in a strip mall in VA suburb of DC and was one of about 10 people in the audience. She and her band put on a show as if the joint was packed! Does anyone remember what and where that club was? Also love the Village Vanguard in New York—small and acoustics are great. Saw a great Fred Hersch show there. Two weeks ago went to Birdland in NY to catch Wanda Sa and Marco Valle show. If you get a chance to see this great singer/guitarist run, don’t walk. Stacey Kent is at Birdland this week.

  2. Stacey Kent is really great. I just got a CD of her doing all French songs.