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SmallsLIVE/Mezzrow Newsletter
May 27th, 2019

Notes for the Club Owner
 
I am occasionally asked for advice on how to run a Jazz Club.  It makes me think of Zen master Dogen’s seminal essay, “Notes for the Tenzo”.  In a Zen Buddhist monastery, the Tenzo is the head cook but also something more.  He also takes care of the logistics of the monastery. But, also something more – through his daily work he imbues the place with the spirit of Buddha and his own spirit as well.  Being a Tenzo is part job and part spiritual practice.  Indeed, to be a Tenzo at a monastery is already to be a monk of some spiritual accomplishment.  To quote Dogen:
 
From ancient times monastic communities had six office holders who, as disciples of the Buddha, guided the activities of the monastery. Amongst these, the Tenzo bears the responsibility of caring for the community's meals. The Zen Monastic Standard states, ‘The Tenzo functions as the one who makes offerings with reverence to the monks.’ Since ancient times this office has been held by realized monks or by senior disciples who have roused the Way-seeking mind.  This work requires maximum effort.   Those entrusted with this work but who lack the Way-seeking mind will only cause and endure hardship despite all their efforts. The Zen Monastic Standards states, "Putting the mind of the Way to work, serve carefully varied meals appropriate to each occasion and thus allow everyone to practice without hindrance.”
 
I see the Tenzo as an analogy to being a Jazz Club Owner in the very best sense.  Jazz in itself is a spiritual practice and not very far from Zen.  It requires a lifetime commitment and hours and hours and years and years of mental effort.  In many ways it means to give up the “householder’s life” and take the path of the seeker-of-truth, the Dharma of Jazz in all its implications.  The Jazz community is a family of these “monks” and the laity are the audiences who seek the spiritual food that is our music.  Monk and laity are symbiotic.  The monks, with their begging bowls, receive small donations from the public who rely on them for the spiritual sustenance of their own lives.  Jazz is religion.  It is mental discipline and excellence.  When played correctly it is a direct channel to the infinite – the true Mind, the one reality.  Subsequently, these musician-monks are often strange, impulsive, hedonistic, lone wolves and night dwellers.  But their psychic sensitivity is generally heightened, and they live in a nether-world of music and semi-reality, outcasts from the day to day mundane life of the masses.
 
Like with any religious group there are the temples in which these monks congregate, practice together and share the fruits of their own life journeys with the public.  Here the monks can communicate with each other and further ahead their own studies.  These places are the Jazz monasteries and exist to serve the community.  In our music, Jazz, there was once many great clubs – places where monks and laity communed together.  Clubs used to be a warm mix of the social and the spiritual.  In our modern day this kind of true “club” has become more and more rare.  In my youth, I remember the great Village Gate and the great Bradley’s and many other true Jazz Clubs.  Like in any  “club” you became a member and hung out with the other members of the club – a social club, an arts club.  The Jazz Club was the same – social, sexual, spiritual.  Today, however, “club” has gotten misconstrued to mean an uncomfortable small place that costs a lot of money to go – and not fun.  I don’t know how this happened but I urge all future club owners to take heed – this direction is not the path of Jazz Righteousness!  A Jazz Club is not a business.  Like Dogen said, “Those entrusted with this work but who lack the Way-seeking mind will only cause and endure hardship despite all their efforts.”  How true, how true.  To open a Jazz Club and not understand the nature of a Jazz Club is to invite disaster and possible financial ruin.  To be a good Jazz Club owner you must have the way-seeking Jazz Mind.  You must truly know what the Jazz Life is and how to propagate it.  The key is the social element. This involves actually hanging out.  Non-way-seeking-mind club owners don’t actually want to be in their own clubs.  But remember the great ones!  Art D’Lugoff (The Village Gate), Bradley Cunningham (Bradley’s) – these were men who were in their clubs night after night.  They expounded the dharma of the bar!  To be a club owner means schmoozing and being a familiar face.  It means to offer a glad hand or a hug or a compliment or a kind word.  It can also occasionally mean punching some guy in the face if need be.  The club owner is everyone’s friend and is on top of everything that happens in their club – remember our hero, Rick, from Casablanca?  To imbue the club with one’s watchful spirit: that’s the Jazz Club Owner goal. 
 
Like the Tenzo who serves the stomachs of the monks the Jazz Club Owner must serve the hearts and minds of the musicians.  “The Tenzo functions as the one who makes offerings with reverence to the monks”.  The Jazz Club Owner needs great relationships with the musicians and to be like them – to be one!  A club owner who is also a musician is in the best position because he or she knows what a musician wants and how they live.  As the Tenzo must be an accomplished monk so should the Jazz Club owner be a musician themselves or, at least, well versed in the music – “a realized monk or one who has roused the Way-seeking mind”.  The real Jazz Club Owner must strive to serve the poor monks and let them bring their life’s work to the stage.  If the musicians are happy and comfortable then the club will reflect this.  The life blood of a Jazz Club is the happy balance of the musician and the crowd in such a way that everyone feels natural and comfortable.  No hassles, no pressure.  Let the music play and let the crowd feel good.
 
Paying the musicians correctly is of the highest importance.  Pay your musicians in such a way that they feel justly compensated.  Even if it’s not a lot of money, let them know how important they are to the community and this art form.  For the musician their true reward is the performance opportunity itself.  But the money is the custom, the tithe, and the donation that we give to the monk for their spiritual service.  This gives our monk/musicians a way to continue their path, economically meager as it may be.  Being a Jazz Musician is a spiritual journey which is often accompanied by poverty – a wealth of spirit but a dearth of cash.  It’s for the good karma of the club that the musicians feel justly rewarded for their efforts and happy to come back to play again.
 
In terms of the audience, each monastery has its visiting laity who come to sit and observe the ceremonies.  This is our Jazz Audience coming to our club to hear a concert set.  The are reverent, they are eager, they are curious.  It is important not to alienate them or make them feel uncomfortable in any way.  They need to come away from the experience enriched by Jazz, not frightened by it.  In our club/monastery we welcome them, we have them seated, we offer them drinks at prices that shouldn’t be prohibitory, we serve them with smiles.  The band begins its set and grips them in the thrall of Jazz.  They absorb a full hour and are glutted on the soulfulness of the music.  Then they are ready to go – one set is often enough.  Some may want to stay longer – we accommodate those.  We want our laity to be enriched and contented.  They are happy – thank them for coming!  Give them a ready smile, a pat on the back.  Let them know you are eager for their return to the club again, whenever they want.  That’s the job of the Jazz Club Owner – to propagate a recurring audience of happy-minded fans who, because their experience was so excellent, want to come again and again.  The quality is imbued through the music into their hearts.
 
Remember dear future Jazz Club Owners – the real profits are paid in spiritual dollars.  Expenses are real but a club can be run in the most frugal way.  If your efforts are sincere, with loving regard for the music, the musicians and the audience, then you will have the success of a bustling monastery full of monks seeking the way and many laities coming to be edified in the sacred sounds of Jazz.  Think how happy you will be!
 
Blessings,
 
Spike
 
 
 
 

Monday - 5/27
Michael Kanan, Greg Ruggiero & Neal Miner

Pianist Michael Kanan is a hallmark of taste and a fountain of knowlege of the classic American songbook.  He's here with his exceptional trio of Greg Ruggiero on guitar and Neal Miner on bass.

 Doors @ 7 PM
Seatings at 7:30 and 9 PM

Pasquale Grasso @ 10:30 PM & 12AM

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:
CLICK HERE TO RESERVE

Tuesday - 5/28
Deanna Kirk, Yaniv Taubenhouse & Matt Clohesy

A true "chanteuse" - join the wonderful Deanna Kirk and her group for an evening of swing and song. She brings pianist Yaniv Taubenhouse on piano & Matt Clohesy on bass for an evening of trio not to be missed.

 Doors @ 7 PM
Seatings at 7:30 and 9 PM

Lucy Yeghiazaryan @ 10:30 PM & 12

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:
CLICK HERE TO RESERVE

Wednesday - 5/29
Randy Ingram, Drew Gress & Jochen Rueckert

Pianist Randy Ingram is a modern thinking improvisor and composer.  He is joined by bassist Drew Gress & drummer Jochen Rueckert for an evening of trio.

 Doors @ 7 PM
Seatings at 7:30 and 9 PM

Willerm Delisfort @ 10:30 PM & 12 AM

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:
CLICK HERE TO RESERVE

Thursday - 5/30
Frank Kimbrough, Jay Anderson & Jeff Hirshfield

Pianist Frank Kimbrough is a veteran player with a modern approach and a deep jazz feeling.  He'll be joined by Jay Anderson on bass & Jeff Hirshfield on drums for a night of trio in our listening room.

 Doors @ 7 PM
Seatings at 7:30 and 9 PM

Spike Wilner & Pasquale Grasso @ 10:30 PM & 12 AM

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:
CLICK HERE TO RESERVE

Friday & Saturday - 5/31-6/1
Joanne Brackeen & Lonnie Plaxico

Pianist Joanne Brackeen is a jazz legend with a resume as tall as she is. Join her and bassist Lonnie Plaxico for a weekend of duets.

 Doors @ 7 PM
Seatings at 7:30 and 9 PM
5/31 - Benny Benack III @ 10:30 PM & 12:00 AM
6/1 - Miki Yamanaka @ 10:30 PM & 12:00 AM


To advance purchase a reserved seat click:
5/31 - CLICK HERE TO RESERVE
6/1 - CLICK HERE TO RESERVE  

Sunday - 6/2
Solo Piano Salon - No Cover

Join pianist Spike Wilner for an afternoon of solo piano, there is no cover charge for this event.

Doors at 4:30 PM 
Spike Wilner from 5 PM until 6:45 PM

  

Sunday - 6/2
Joel Frahm, Spike Wilner & Neal Miner

Saxophonist Joel Frahm is a fountain of music - state of the art mind association combined with love.  Join him for an evening of trio with Spike Wilner on piano and Neal Miner on bass.

Seatings at 7:30 and 9 PM
Panas Athanatos & Friends @ 10:30 PM & 12:00 AM


To advance purchase a reserved seat click:
CLICK HERE TO RESERVE
  

Monday - 5/27
Guillermo Klein Sextet

 Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM
     with Guillermo Klein - Piano, Chris Cheek - Tenor Sax, Leo Genovese - Piano, Tirman Deus - Bandoneon, Matt Pavolka - Bass, Rodrigo Recabarren - Drums
 
Monday - 5/27
Joel Frahm Trio

 Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM
with Joel Frahm - Tenor Sax, Omer Avital - Bass, Anthony Pinciotti - Drums
 
Monday - 5/27
Jon Elbaz Trio "After-hours"

1 AM to close
     with Jon Elbaz - Piano
 
Tuesday - 5/28
Rob Gatto Quartet
 Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM
with Rob Gatto - Drums, Lucas Pino - Clarinet, Sam Yahel - Piano, Dezron Douglas - Bass
Tuesday - 5/28
Frank Lacy's Tromboniverse

 Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM
with Frank Lacy - Trombone
 
Tuesday - 5/28
Malik McLaurine Trio "After-hours"
 1 AM to close
with Malik McLaurine - Bass, Julius Rodriguez - Piano
Wednesday & Thursday - 5/29-5/30
Mike Moreno Electric Quartet
 Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM

with Mike Moreno - Guitar, James Francies - Piano, Burniss Travis - Bass, Jonathan Barber - Drums
Wednesday - 5/29
Scatter The Atoms That Remain
 Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM
with Jovan Alexandre - Tenor Sax, Davis Whitfield - Piano, Otto Gardner - Bass, Franklin Kiermyer - Drums
Wednesday - 5/29
Mimi Jones & Jam Session
 1 AM to close
with Mimi Jones - Bass
Thursday - 5/30
John Hebert Quintet
Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM
with John Hebert - Bass, Jay Rodriguez - Tenor Sax, Joel Ross - Vibraphone, Lawrence Fields - Piano, Damion Reid - Drums
Thursday - 5/30
Malick Koly "After-hours"
1 AM to close

with Malick Koly - Drums, Wallace Roney Jr. - Trumpet, Sasha Berliner - Vibraphone, Jordan Young - Alto Sax, Dylan Reis - Bass
Friday & Saturday - 5/31-6/1
Winard Harper & Jelly Posse
Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM

$20 for this show
with Winard Harper - Drums, Ted Chubb - Trumpet, Anthony Ware - Tenor Sax, Charlie Sigler - Guitar, Norman Simmons - Piano, Dishan Harper - Bass
Friday & Saturday - 5/31-6/1
Pete Malinverni's Invisible Cities Band
feat. Gary Versace
Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM

$20 for this show
with Pete Malinverni - Piano, Bruce Harris - Trumpet, Rich Perry - Tenor Sax, Ugonna Okegwo - Bass, Paul Wells - Drums
Friday - 5/31
Corey Wallace DUBtet "After-hours"
1 AM to close

with  Corey Wallace - Trombone
Saturday - 6/1
Eric Wyatt Trio "After-hours"
1 AM to close

with Eric Wyatt - Tenor Sax, Benito Gonzalez - Piano, Eric Wheeler - Bass
Sunday - 6/2
Marianne Solivan Quintet
Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM

with Marianne Solivan - Vocalist, Evan Francis - Flute, Joshua Richman - Piano, Gregg August - Bass, EJ Strickland - Drums
Sunday - 6/2
Bruce Harris Quintet
Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM

with Bruce Harris - Trumpet, Grant Stewart - Tenor Sax, Ehud Asherie - Piano, Aaron Seeber - Drums
Sunday - 6/2
After-hours Jam Session
1 AM to close

with Hillel Salem - Trumpet, Alon Near - Bass
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