My ears have been buzzing lately from conversations about the Blue Wisp, which has been in a state of flux for several months. One of the tricky things about making a jazz club work these days is that there aren’t a lot of new names getting anywhere near the attention of the older icons—yet many of them have passed away, leaving a gap that has yet to be filled.
So how do the younger guys get their names out there? One way is to host the It’s Commonly Jazz series at Seasongood Pavilion, which takes place every Thursday this month from 6pm to 8pm. The next four concerts all spotlight younger jazz artists whose playing draws from the tradition yet has a distinct style. This Thursday (8/8), for example, features the trumpeter Etienne Charles, who blends Caribbean music with jazz. Next Thursday(8/15) tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen will perform. Allen performs frequently in an atypical sax-bass-drums trio format. The pianoless lineup offers greater harmonic freedom, but it’s also very challenging, and Allen has gotten a lot of attention due to his ability to make a statement in that context. Jazz vocalist Gregory Porter (8/22) and vibraphonist Warren Wolf (8/29) are also jazz artists who, though young, have already built impressive resumes.
These are all artists who play around the world, including the best jazz clubs in New York City. Were you to see them there, you’d have to shell out twenty or thirty bucks to get in the door (the drinks aren’t free either). At the Seasongood Pavilion you can see them for free. The Blue Wisp can only benefit from this exposure, as attending these shows will make it clear that jazz music is still evolving and that there are plenty of talented younger guys. Check out this brief excerpt from a JD Allen performance at one of New York’s most happening clubs, a place called Smalls: