September 7th, 2015
Dear Friends:

Welcome from Groningen, Netherlands, where I've been invited by my friend Joris Teepe to teach for one week at the Prince Claus Conservatory.  After spending an amazing evening in Amsterdam, I took the train to Groningen.  Groningen is a charming town and the conservatory is first-class - it's a fantastic and modern facility.  The students seem to be really high-level and very mature.  Our first class was about choosing a set of material for a performance.  The student leader chose material and I made comments and suggestions, tweaked the set and,later in the day, the set was performed for the students of the school.  I thought I'd share my notes on a "Good Jazz Set" with you.  Rather than choose specific tunes I chose prototypes.

A Good Jazz Set - approx 1 hr - 1 hr 15m but no longer.

Tune 1) - "warm up" - a B flat blues or something we should all be familiar with and can, in the first tune, relax into "ourselves" - Get our fingers walking - Feel the happy groove.

Tune 2) "cool original" - a cool and interesting arrangement of an original tune - a personal statement as a band.  Not too obscure but slick.  Not so complex as to bore the audience to tears.

Tune 3) "upstairs" - this is an up-tempo and can/should be a be-bop tune.  If it's original, it still has to have a simple form.  The key is to "burn" but not "crash and burn".  Sizzle.  Slick and tasty - Trade with drums!

Tune 4) "ballad" - something romantic.  This is the time to "really" play a standard.  Something great - the marriage of a great composer (ie. Gershwin, Kern)  and a great interpreter (ie. Hawk, Bird, Billy Holiday, Miles) - Complete Music.  This is the most difficult part of a jazz set to play because you must be the most real - real romance, real heart-break.  "grown-up people music" - Listen to the masters - this tradition has vanished from current popular music, so you must search for it in the past.

Tune 5) "original or med-swing tune or odd meter" - this really depends on the taste of the bandleader.  It should be around medium tempo since the last tune was a ballad - but not a "burner" (save that for next).  It could be a "latin tune" - that is to say, with a "straight eighth note feel" - For me personally,  I'd choose to play something in 3/4 with an open feel to contrast from the rest of the set.

Tune 6) "closer"  - the last tune of the set.  My personal philosophy is play a slow blues on the first set and then burn on the second set.  If it's a one set gig then do both - blues then burn.  And  "Blues" here, for me, means a real Blues
- not a be-bop tune or clever head but a true, "primal scream" - no agenda but the blues, blues.  (I choose to play this way but it is not "required" to make a perfect set.  It's not for the "faint of heart" and must be done correctly or it will be in very bad taste).

Closer cont.) However, the traditional NYC way to end a set/gig is "The Theme" - a good, old-fashioned, up-tempo rhythm changes in B flat - with trading and all the slick traditional trimmings.  Trade with drums!  Drum showcase!  And always end on the traditional; "where'd you park the car?!" ending.

Some great music happening at the clubs this week whilst I'm gone.  Please check out Jane Monheit with my man Mike Kanan at the piano on Monday.  I'd suggest a reservation (CLICK HERE).  Also Tuesday and Wednesday is vocalist Sachal Vasandani with Gerald Clayton.  They're playing two nights, also reservations recommend.  (CLICK FOR TUESDAY) (CLICK FOR WEDNESDAY).  On the weekend we have the return of trombonist Steve Davis with the great (my hero) Larry Willis and David Williams.  On Sunday a rare appearance by Walter Smith III with Gerald Clayton.   At Smalls be sure to catch my man John Chin's trio on Monday and then we have Seamus Blake with his "Reeds Ramble" band that features the great Chris Cheek.  Thursday we have alto saxophonist Lummie Spann and his hard hitting group.  This weekend watch for Rob Scheps, Marianne Solivan and her big band and, of course, Johnny O'Neal.  Whew...

Best to all and I wish you a great week.


NOW: A cover paid at Mezzrow also gets you admission to Smalls.
Mezzrow proudly endorses Steinway pianos

Monday - 9/7
Michael Kanan & Jane Moneheit

               Pianist Michael Kanan is considered to be one of the top accompianists in the field.  His regular gig is with the wonderful Jane Moneheit, who he's been working with for the last 15 years.  Please join Mike and Jane for a rare duet appearance in our austere Music Room.  This will be a very special event!

Michael Kanan sets @ 7:30 PM & 9 PM
Sacha Perry "after-hours" @ 11 PM

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:

Tuesday, Wednesday - 9/8-9
Sachal Vasandani & Gerald Clayton

Vocalist Sachal Vasandani is a contemporary master with a wide-range of vocalisms.  With him is one of the most respected pianists of his generation, Gerald Clayton, for an evening of duets.

Sachal Vasandani sets @ 7:30 PM & 9 PM
Mezzrow "Polite" Jam Session @ 11 PM

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:

Thursday - 9/10
Franck Amsallem & Matt Penman

Pianist Franck Amsallem is a swinging modernist with a lovely touch and great jazz feeling.  He doesn't make appearances too often in New York and this is his debut in our austere Music Room.  With him is the rock-solid Matt Penman on bass.

Kevin Harris Solo Piano (no cover) @ 7:30 PM
Franck Amsallem sets @ 9:30 PM & 11 PM
Jon Davis "after-hours" @ 12 AM

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:

Friday & Saturday - 9/11-12
Steve Davis with
Larry Willis & David Williams

Trombonist Steve Davis returns to Mezzrow with his all-star rhythm section that consists of the great Larry Willis on piano and the legendary David Williams on bass.

9/11 - Ehud Asherie ( No cover ) @ 7:30 PM
9/12 - Jeremy Manasia ( No cover ) @ 7:30 PM
Steve Davis sets @ 9:30 PM & 11 PM
9/11 - Johnny O'Neal "after-hours" @ 12:30 AM
9/12 - Anthony Wonsey "after-hours" @ 12:30 AM

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:

Sunday - 9/13
Walter Smith III & Gerald Clayton

Saxophonist Walter Smith III is a modernist with a wide-ranging concept and beautiful sound.
 He makes a rare New York appearance for an evening of duet with one of the very-top jazz pianist on the scene today Gerald Clayton.

Saul Rubin Solo Guitar @ 7:30 PM
Walter Smith III Sets @ 9:30 PM & 11 PM

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:

(a selection of featured shows)

For our full schedule please go to

Monday - 9/7
John Chin Trio

Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM
  w. John Chin - Piano, Sean Conly - Bass,
Jaimeo Brown - Drums
Monday - 9/7
Ari Hoenig Quartet
Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM

   w. Tivon Pennicott - Tenor Sax, Dave Kikoski - Piano, Orlando Le Fleming - Bass, Ari Hoenig - Drums


Tuesday & Wednesday- 9/8-9
Seamus Blake & "Reeds Ramble"
 9/8 - Sets at 9:30 PM & 11 PM
 9/9 - Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM

w. Matt Penman - Bass, Chris Cheek - Tenor Sax, Ethan Iverson - Piano, Jochen Rueckert - Drums,
Seamus Blake - Tenor Sax



Wednesday - 9/9
Victor Gould Sextet
Sets at 10:30 PM & 12:00 AM
 w. Godwin Louis - Alto Sax, Myron Walden - Tenor Sax, Billy Buss - Trumpet, Victor Gould - Piano, Yasushi Nakamura - Bass, E.J. Strickland - Drums


Thursday - 9/10
Lummie Spann Quartet
Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM

  w. Lummie Spann - Alto Sax, Victor Gould - Piano, Eric Wheeler - Bass, Jonathan Barber - Drums


Thursday - 9/10
John Raymond Quartet
Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM

  w. Lummie Spann - Alto Sax, Victor Gould - Piano, Eric Wheeler - Bass, Jonathan Barber - Drums


Friday - 9/11
Daniel Cacija Quintet
"Lifelines" CD release

Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM

$20 for this show
  w. Daniel Cacija - Vocalist, Eric Alexander - Tenor Sax, Tuomo Uusitalo - Piano, Matyas Barta - Piano, Norbert Farkas - Bass, Joe Farnsworth - Drums
Friday & Saturday - 9/11-12
The Rob Sheps Core-tet

Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM
$20 for this show
  w. Robert Sheps - Tenor Sax, Jim O'Connor - Trumpet, Jamie Reynolds - Piano, Cameron Brown - Bass,
Anthony Pinciotti - Drums
Saturday - 9/12
Tommy Campbell's "Vocal-Eyes"
Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM

$20 for this show
    w. Carolyn Leonhart - Vocalist, Marcelino Feliciano - Vocalist, Ben Sher - Guitar, Helio Alves - Piano, Harvie S - Bass, Tommy Campbell - Drums
Sunday - 9/13
Marianne Solivan and her Big Band

Sets at 4:30 PM & 6 PM
w.  John Chin - Piano, Josh Evans - Trumpet, Marianne Solivan - Vocalist, Andy Gravish - Trumpet, Stafford Hunter - Trombone, Todd Bashore - Alto Sax, Yunie Mojica - Alto Sax, Tony Lustig - Baritone Sax, Matthew Parrish - Bass, Peter Nelson - Trombone, Chris Smith - Drums,
Carl Maraghi - Baritone Sax
Sunday - 9/13
The Johnny O'Neal Trio

Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM
w.  Charles Goold - Drums, Johnny O'Neal - Piano,
Luke Sellick - Bass
Sunday - 9/13
Grant Stewart Quartet

Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM
w.  Grant Stewart - Tenor Sax, Tardo Hammer - Piano,
Phil Stewart - Drums, Paul Sikivie - Bass


Monday - 9/7, 1 AM to close
Afterhours with Jonathan Michel


Tuesday - 9/8, 12:30 AM to close 
After-hours Jam Session
with The Corey Wallace DUBtet

Wednesday - 9/9, 1:30 AM to close 
Afterhours Jam Session with Sanah Kadoura


Thursday - 9/10, 1:30 AM to close 
After-hours Jam Session


Friday - 9/11, 4:30 PM to 7 PM
Afternoon open jam session
with Tuomo Uusitalo Trio


Friday - 9/11, 1:15 AM
Friday Afterhours with Tivon Pennicott

Saturday - 9/12, 4 PM to 7 PM
Saturday Afternoon Open Jam Session
With : Ben Meigners Trio

Saturday - 9/12, 1:30 AM to close
Afterhours with Philip Harper

Sunday - 9/13, 1 PM to 3 PM
Marion Cowings Vocal Masterclass

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