During this tight economy, jazz clubs are coming up with creative concepts to get fans coming in without going broke. Take, for example, the Blue Note Jazz Club (in the West Village) started a weekly Friday night series called “Spontaneous Construction,” presented by Search & Restore.
Each Friday night at 12:30 a.m., ensembles are created from a pool of musicians ranging from the aspiring to the legendary, all hand-picked to perform as a group for the first time. No rules or boundaries exist, call it a uniformed jam session, the artists are selected for the group but after that it’s all jammin’ swing time.
As the Blue Note celebrates its 30th year, this series brings back the club’s old Late Night Jam Sessions with a new twist. The price is right, seating at the bar or tables are only $10.
Drummer Marcus Gilmore with special guests to be announced will appear on July 22. Gilmore was already touring with NEA Jazz Master Clark Terry while attending LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts. At age 24, the young drummer holds down two regular chairs in the bands of Vijay Iyer and Nicholas Payton.
Gilmore at such a young age has found his own sound that is constantly in demand having played with jazz notables Chick Corea, Gonzalo Rubalcana, Natalie Cole, Cassandra Wilson, Steve Coleman, Roy Hargrove, Ravi Coltrane, John Patitucci, Terence Blanchard and Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Gilmore is definitely, a young drummer with a rhythmic flow worth hearing he follows in his grandfather’s footsteps the incredible Roy Haynes.
The Spontaneous Construction Series continues on July 29 with saxophonist Bill McHenry, musicians to be announced.
McHenry is known for his free-form composing and improvising. Since moving to New York in 1992, he has worked regularly with groups led by Reid Anderson, Guillermo Klein, Ethan Iverson, and Rebecca Martin. He also leads his own group with Anderson, guitarist Ben Monder and drummer Paul Motion.
The Blue Note also presents the “Late Night Groove” series on Saturdays at 12:30 a.m., with seating at tables and the bar for only $10. This series features mostly aspiring musicians on the move in the city.
Alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius will appear on July 23 with tenor saxophonist Ron Blake, pianist John Chin, trombonist Nick Vayenas, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Nate Smith.
His bands have performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Ronnie Scott’s, and the London Jazz Festival. He won the Young Jazz two years in a row and was described as “a new American name to watch” by JazzWise magazine.
His performances and recordings have featured some of the most exciting young talents in New York: Kendrick Scott, Lionel Loueke, Aaron Goldberg, Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Gerald Clayton, Ambrose Akinmusire, Aaron Parks, Gretchen Parlato and Johnathan Blake.
The Smoke Jazz & Supper Club-Lounge (2751 Broadway between 104th and 105th streets) boasts a policy of no cover chargers during the week from Sunday through Thursday. Smoke offers a less expensive way for jazz fans to see great jazz musicians and save some cash in the process.
On Sunday, July 24, Harlem jazz vocalist Annette St. John and her trio perform brunch sets at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Followed at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. with post-bop and beyond “Prime Directive,” featuring the fine creative vocalist Miles Griffith with soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome, Frank Lacy (trombone, flugelhorn and vocals), pianist Dan Kaufman, bassist Ryan Berg and drummer Chris Beck.
On Mondays, catch the Smoke Big Band, a 16-piece jazz orchestra led by Bill Mobley, with sets at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. A jam session follows at 10:30 p.m. with the John Farnsworth Quintet with Farnsworth on tenor saxophone, Andrew Beals on alto saxophone, Mike LeDonne on piano, Dwayne Burno on bass and Joe Strasser on drums.
On July 27, vocalist Eve Cornelious & Mosaic performs, featuring trumpeter Jeremy Pelt with trombonist Clark Gayton, pianist Carlton Holmes, bassist Andrew Klein and drummer Lawrence Leathers. Sets are at 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
I am not sure if Pelt is still considered a young lion, but one thing is for sure: He continues to progressively advance as a leader, sideman and composer.
On July 28, Allan Harris, one of my favorite jazz vocalists, appears with the Allan Harris Band. Harris is a well-rounded singer who knows his way around a great ballad or up-tempo swinger. He has the ability to take each well-traveled song and add his own signature. There are two sets at 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
For a performance schedule, visit smokejazz.com or call (212) 864-6662.