May 26th, 2014

Dear Friends:

Except for a post on my Facebook feed, on May 20th Smalls Jazz Club quietly eased into its 20th year of operation.  It was May 20th of 1994 when Mitch Borden ran the opening night for his new jazz club.  The timing of the opening was excellent.  The scene had just lost The Village Gate which had closed in the end of 1993.  The Village Gate was one of those magic places where the community of musicians congregated and had jam sessions.  Great artists, not to mention comedians, theater and everything else took place at the Village Gate during it's storied heyday.  After The Gate closed it left a big hole - especially for the musicians of my generation, which was at that time guys in their mid to late twenties.  I first heard about Smalls one afternoon when I was hanging out with my friend Grant Stewart.  He got the phone call while I was there at his place and after he got off the phone he said intriguingly; "some new club is opening".

For his opening night Mitch Borden chose his musicians well.  The opening band was saxophonist Ned Goold and pianist Jason Lindner in duet.  Following them for the main show was the cream of the young cats - Peter Bernstein on guitar, Brad Mehldau on piano, Omer Avital on bass, Grant Stewart on tenor and Greg Hutchinson on drums - and in one night Smalls was started.  There was no way I could have fore seen the depth to which I was to get involved with this club but now, 20 years later, the place is everything to me - a home, a family and a business.

I sit here in wonder and think about the density of those 20 years.  At the shear number of musicians who have played in this basement, many now deceased.  The dramas that have taken place here - the fights, the lovemaking, the heartbreaking and night after night - the jazz music.  Smalls is a big heart and everyone that lives here walks to its beat.  Multi-generations of artists have passed through this basement and have come out transformed into masters.

Here we are now exactly twenty years later and Smalls lives!  People ask me about the future of music, particularly jazz.  I say; "Jazz is Alive And Well! - it really is!"  There's a host of people, world-wide, that love this music and seek it out.  Now there's a current crop of mid-to-late twenties artists who are original and seeking themselves in the music - and finding it!  I'm not worried about new talent - it's here in abundance.  All we need to do is channel it.

Music is the common universal language.  Musicians are the communicators.  If our message is one of love, sincerity, adult outlook and the blues then we can transform the banality of this society.   Let jazz music wash away the corporate grime from the windows of everyones soul - let jazz music cleanse and refresh our spirits and may the message of this music be transmitted through the generations unscathed into the unforeseeable future!



(a selection of featured shows)

For our full schedule please go to

Monday - 5/26
Myron Walden & Momentum
Sets at 10:30 PM & 12:00 AM

Myron Walden is a force on the jazz scene.  He's a member of Brian Blade's Fellowship group and a great composer in his own right.  Come out to hear his group "Momentum" which features Darren Barrett, Eden Ladin, Yasushi Nakamura & Mark Whitfield Jr.
Monday - 5/26
The John Chin Trio
Set at 1:00 AM

John Chin is a modern thinking pianist with great feel and taste. Celebrating the release of his new trio CD "Undercover" he comes in with Orlando LeFlemming and Rudy Royston for an afterhours set.
Tuesday - 5/27
The Josh Evans Big Band
Sets at 10:30 PM & 12:00 AM

This is an amazing 18 piece big band that now has a monthly residence at Smalls.  Josh Evans is not only a fiery trumpet virtuoso but a wonderful arranger and has put together an amazing book for this large ensemble.
Wednesday - 5/28
The Yotam Silberstein Quartet
Sets at 9:30 PM & 11:00 PM
Yotam Silberstein has become a popular sideman and now does a considerable amount of work touring the world with various groups.  Here's a chance to hear him in the context of his own music.  With Aaron Goldberg on piano, Yasushi Nakamura on bass and Clarence Penn on drums.
Thurday 5/29
Melissa Aldana Crash Trio

Sets at 9:30 PM & 11:00 PM

Melissa Aldana, since winning the Thelonious Monk Competition, has garnered world attention.  Her style is lyrical but with a modernist edge.  In her "Crash" trio she features the drum work of Francisco Mela and the bass playing of Pablo Manares.
Friday 5/30
The David Schnitter Quartet

Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM
$20 for this show.

David Schnitter is a master and a wonderful composer.  His music has the soulful edge of John Coltrane mixed with his own organic vocabulary.  Come out and hear this wonderful musician.  With Spike Wilner on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Anthony Pinciotti on drums.
Friday & Saturday - 5/30 & 5/31
Jay Collins & The Kings County Band 

Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM
$20 for this show.

Jay Collins is an amazing jazz musician but also a blues based rocker with a soulful raspy voice.  His music is a combination of soul, blues jazz and rock and with a great group.  Scott Sharrard on guitar, George Lax on piano, Jeff Hanley on bass and Diego Voglino on drums.
Saturday - 5/31
The Matt Panayides Quartet
Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM
$20 for this show.

This rare appearance at Smalls by this excellent guitarist is worth coming out for.  Featured in this group is Rich Perry on tenor, Thomas Kneeland on bass and Mark Ferber on drums.
Sunday - 6/1
The Johnny O'Neal Trio

Set at 10:30 PM
$20 for this show.

People are finally beginning to realize what we've known for the last 3 years - Johnny O'Neal is something special.  Come out and hear this great man's trio.  To hear him play and sing puts you in touch with the masters.

Mon, "Afterhours" -
Spencer Murphy Jam

Tues, 7:30PM to 10PM -
Spike Wilner Trio

Tues, "Afterhours" -
Kyle Poole "Next Generation" Jam

Wed, 6PM to 9PM -
Michela Lerman Tap Jam
Thur, 6PM to 9PM

The "Early Bird" with:

Fri, 4PM to 7PM -
OPEN Afternoon Jam

Sat, 4PM to 7PM -
OPEN Afternoon Jam 

Sun, 1PM to 3PM
Marion Cowings Vocal Masterclass
($40 to participate)

Sun, 10PM to 11:30PM  - 
The Legendary Johnny O'Neal


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   Tyler Mitchell


        Frank Lacy

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