Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Jazz Triangle

This past year I've tried to soak up as much jazz as I can right at the source. From Detroit to New York City to New Orleans, it's all been mind-blowingly good. My sister Linda, a sax player turned archaeologist, had a helpful jazz record collection that I dipped into as a kid, coming up with big names like John Coltrane and Miles Davis, among others. Linda took me to my first jazz show in the 1970s (Herbie Hancock in Chapel Hill), and I've loved it live ever since. Not that I'm by any means an "expert," but to my ears, what sounds good sounds good by any measure and in any form. I can't even read music, and only briefly (and comically) played electric bass before selling it back to travel to Europe.

New Orleans seems to have the oldest jazz tradition, going back to the nineteenth century with much earlier roots. But I'm pretty sure now that the oldest two continuous jazz venues in the USA and in the world are in Detroit and Manhattan. Though there is and has continuously been great jazz aplenty in the French Quarter and other parts of New Oreans since the beginning, the earliest clubs there were closed or dozed long ago.

In fact, Baker's Keyboard Lounge -- just below Eight Mile Road at 20510 Livernois Avenue in Detroit -- really is the oldest jazz venue still running, with a starting date of 1934. Next in line is the more famous Village Vanguard -- at 178 Seventh Avenue South near West 11th Street in Greenwich Village -- it opened in 1935. The acoustics at both places are fantastic, the settings as intimate as anyone could hope for. For any jazz fan who hasn't checked them out, I highly recommend them both. Jazz in New Orleans is an extra treat, too, whether out in the streets or inside a small club with good sound qualities. All three cities have jazz festivals, as well.

Todays Rune: Harvest.

Birthdays: Pearl Bailey, Terrence Hill, Eric Idle, Michael Brecker, Amy Sedaris.

Can you dig?


Charles Gramlich said...

Jazz fest is getting ready to start here in New Orleans pretty soon. They have a lot of varied music, of course. This year ZZ Top is going to be there.

Sheila said...

Jazz is cool.. I'm more into rock though...

Laura said...

Jazz music is good. I like all kinds of music, except I don't really care for rap music.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Wow! I didn't know that interesting fact about Baker's Keyboard Lounge. Nice bit of history in Detroit.