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EricBenson

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THE JAZZ GALLERY
February 28, 2011

It's an oft-repeated trope that you can tell the best ethnic restaurants by the make-up of their clientele. Walk into a Chinese restaurant on Canal St. and see tables full of the coach-bus-to-Broadway crowd, and you can safely turn around and walk out. Hop to the place next-door and do a double-take to make sure you're not in Fujian province, and you've probably hit the jackpot.

I've always thought of the Jazz Gallery as the music's New York hole-in-the-wall for people-in-the-know. It's the club in which I see the most musicians in the audience and the club that's most single-mindedly dedicated to the music. They're non-profit; they don't have a liquor license (and discontinued long ago their offering of a suggested-donation jug of wine); and they won't charge you for a second set if they don't have to. Artists who headline at Lincoln Center come to the Gallery to work through their ideas, to push farther and deeper, to experiment. I remember hearing Lee Konitz kill at the Gallery. I paid $10. Just before he became mega-star, I heard Jason Moran play a duo show with Rudresh Mahanthappa. You could catch Jason at the Vanguard and the show would be polished. Or you could hear him at the Gallery and it would be riskier, weirder, and—quite possibly—greater. The city has other great jazz venues, but the Jazz Gallery has always felt just a little more vital.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Going to shows at the club since 2002.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Keep it open six nights a week and bring back the old jug of wine!

MY ROLE:
Professional with expertise in this field & I heard great music and, sometimes, wrote about it.