Our Scene // Your Scene

JazzColumbus is looking for folks who are interested in writing, researching, and promoting jazz in Columbus! Are you interested in Columbus jazz history, send us an email! Do you love promoting local music? Drop us a line! Have a penchant for watching live jazz or listening to albums and then writing about it? Get in touch! Looking for an internship in music? We also have some thoughts on that! CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR FROM YA.

Hello! Thanks for tuning in. Some normalcy has returned! Many venues are having regular livestream performances. There are a handful of outdoor concerts every week, most of which are available online as well, and the venues that are open for inside performances seem like they’re doing what they can to keep people coming, and keep people safe.

Still no end to the current state of things in sight, but it does seem like jazz has found a way to thrive in this shutdown world.

We also wanted to take an opportunity to wish Zakk Jones, now former editor, happy trails as he embarks on his first year of graduate studies. Lots of love and luck, Zakk – thank you for your service!


Seth Alexander creates a new world, Phil talks Jazz Apocalypse, a Jazz Announcement from our friends at Jazz Arts Group, some Columbus Jazz History, and a short exploration of, “If I Were A Bell.” But first:

A Poem

An Old Communicator // Billy Brown
written for Raleigh Randolph, 1989

Jazz is a black man born with a soul
God’s gift to this black man was a blessing, I’m told
And all attempt to play it, if they possibly can

Jazz is a sacrifice known by a few
Still confined to the woodshed, still searching for
something new

Jazz is traveling far and wide
Sending out a message of musical pride

Jazz is dedication, hard work, and a dream
Sometimes thankless by others it seems

Jazz is a scat, a blues change, or a lick
A beautiful message that makes musicians tick

Jazz is never-ending, and never at a loss
And may it live on forever
we thank you, Old Boss

A Letter // Seth Alexander

To to my fellow musicians:

Wake up early, stay up late.
Drink lots of coffee and tea.
Listen to albums you put off for too long.
Make plans for future endeavors (musical or not).
Read a damn book.
Play something old, play something new.
Cook yourself a delicious meal.
What’s that chart you’ve been writing for two years?
Just go practice. Go.
Update your resume/cv/website/vlog/whatever keeps you “relevant” to the outside world.
Make a to do list- Every. Day.

That’s what gets me out of bed.

If there is anything I have learned from this pandemic, it’s that even when motivation does not seem to exist, we have to make it exist. Find it anew. Find it somewhere you never thought it would be. Fake it if you have to. And if we continue to spend as many moments as we can muster up devoting time and effort to our music and our livelihoods- it WILL pay off (perhaps even literally with real money- remember that??). 

Music does not stay dormant. The venues and spaces have to right now- but the community and the people that make it happen do not. Keep moving forward my friends.

JAZZ ANNOUNCEMENT // Jazz Arts Group Hank Marr High School Jazz Award

We here at Jazz Arts Group are proud to announce our 2020 Hank Marr High School Jazz Award winner, Simon Metzger. Simon is a 17 year old drummer from Bowling Green High School who intends to pursue music as a career and is currently looking at several Jazz Studies programs.

There were several changes to the competition this year, including the addition of The Greasy Spoon Blues Showcase which saw five award winners.

We would like to invite you to join us in celebrating the incredible accomplishment of not only Simon, but each of the participants in this year’s competition. Please see the press release attached to this email and at this link for more information, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Columbus Jazz History // Royal G. “Rusty” Bryant

from “Listen For The Jazz: Key Notes In Columbus History”
as told to William T. McDaniel

I’ll tell you when I got my first inspiration, when I knew that I was going to be a musician. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the Palace Theatre would feature the big bands that would come through here, bands like Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimmy Dorsey, and Tommy Dorsey.

This is how far back it was, you had to sit in the back of the theatre if you wanted to see the shows. It’s hard to imagine that happening here but that’s what happened here in Columbus, the Blacks had to sit in the back of the theatre.

Well… I would get there real early. The ushers weren’t there yet to tell you where to sit.

I used to run down and check out the third row and get down in the the seat where they couldn’t see me so easily, a lot of times they didn’t even know I was down there.

I would sit there, in the third row and you could even smell the copper grease on the instruments, it was like pain, it was like the grease paint smell to someone who knew he was going to be an actor some day. That got into my nostrils and I could see all the lights flashing off of those horns. I knew I was going to do this for a living; it was like showing me a picture of what I was going to be.

-Rusty Bryant

Live and Livestreams

614 Collective Hosting Backyard Shows

“Local musicians Sydney McSweeney, Terrance Charles, and Jeffery Bass have created an event group called 614 Collective. The intent of this group is to create fun, SAFE, and intimate backyard concerts.

The Collective members are opening their private backyards, creating a safe and distanced environment for the community and the musicians. 

It’s not news that musicians have been hit hard during COVID-19. 614 Collective was created in response to the pandemic; to celebrate and support local Columbus musicians in a creative and distanced way. Sydney McSweeney is hosting and performing the first show in her backyard. The yard is at its distanced capacity. So, you can catch her livestream at this link!”

Check it out HERE!

Blu Note Jazz Cafe

The folks at Blu Note Jazz Cafe have a steady stream of top-notch performers scheduled for September. This weekend, they’re featuring two drummer-led groups with the Jerry Powell Quartet, featuring young high-flyer Seth Johnson, and the always excellent James Gaiters Quartet.

COVID RESPONSE: We are awaiting a phone call from the owner/manager. Will update as soon as we can!

Check out their whole calendar HERE.

Blue Velvet Room

The Blue Velvet Room, despite nearly everything, has continued to provide Columbus with the highest quality jazz, both in person and in livestream since April.

COVID RESPONSE: We have taken extended measures to keep our staff, musicians and guests safe. All staff will be wearing masks while working. We highly encourage you to wear mask while you are entering and exiting the venue. Hand sanitizer will be available in high touch point areas. Seating will also be spaced 6 feet apart to ensure proper distancing.

Check out their whole calendar HERE.

WCRS Community Radio Columbus

From Bob Larson, host of Bob’s Basement Jazz:
“I’ll be playing jazz of all styles; hard bop, vocal, fusion, big band, latin, etc. Anything with a jazz influence may be a candidate. I’ve been collecting music all of my adult life and now have the opportunity to share it. Also, there will be a lot of local artists, past and present.”

Check it out HERE.

As Phil Sees It // Phil Maneri

Is Jazz Finally Dead?

Twins Jazz club in DC closed after 33 years.  

Winters, and Green Mill in Chicago are closed indefinitely, owners unsure if they have a future.

Smalls in Greenwich Village was closed and now is all livestreams, but only after a $25,000 gift from Billy Joel.

Every one of the 130 small music venues in New Orleans is still closed and no music is being heard there.  Who knows if the scene will return or if it does what it will look like post pandemic. 

Even here close to home the Rumba Cafe remains shuttered unsure of how to make it work moving forward.

My son just returned from a week at Hilton Head and there was still a jazz dinner theater open there where he heard some folks throwing down. He snuck a phone recording of a few minutes for his dad to hear. They were killing it. Hungry players glad to have a gig. The crowd was going nuts.

Jazz is a social music. Listeners are required, because they motivate the players to take risks, to explore new things. Doesn’t take many. Rudy Van Gelder was very often the only in person witness to jazz history being made. It was enough.

I’ve done my share of streaming this year. I like it, but it’s weird. There’s an audience but they can’t give you any gas from where they sit. I just finish playing something very inspired and cool and there’s dead silence in the room. Zero feedback. At that moment I feel very exposed. That musician doubt of “maybe I’m the only one on the planet that thought this was inspired” kind of doubt. Then the concurrent feeling of dread that is something like standing naked in front of the class to give your book report level doom.  

Still. It’s creating music. I’ll get over that and learn to adjust. That is the brilliance of creative artists. Accommodate. Adapt. Overcome.

Is this the close of 20th Century Jazz? Or is it just a comma? A pivot point? The electric guitar didn’t kill it in the late 60’s. The computer didn’t kill it in the early 21st century. Does the pandemic wipe out the venues and usher in a different music? Put Jazz on a platter with Bach and Mozart? I dunno. Maybe.  Too soon to tell. But I know art finds a way. Artists find a way. 

The audience? Are you done? Do you want to come back? I know I do. I miss watching people play. I miss the audience role. Not everyone does though. The pandemic has taught us what we can live without. All the distractions and ways to spend time, sports, theater, dinner out with friends, we’ve learned in 6 months that we miss it but we don’t need it. So coming back to Smalls, or Rumba or New Orleans even after the pandemic finds a solution will be harder and very different.  

Is Jazz finally dead or is it just another pivot point like post bop or electric jazz? 

We live in interesting times.

Not A Jazz Album // A Review

by Alex Burgoyne

Memz: Music For Exploring

This is not a jazz album.

The improvising found within is not jazz. It doesn’t sound like jazz. Turner and Jordan aren’t jazz musicians. There’s no jazz tradition here being hidden in layers of anything.

You should listen to it.

“We started MEMZ for a residency that Turner had at I.L.L.I.O (It Looks Like It’s Open) in 2019 and we loved working together so much (and the ensemble sound) that we kept it going. We wanted to make an album that uses sounds and inspirations from popular music but performed by a not-so-common ensemble (sax – guitar – vocalise – percussion – electronics). This was basically an excuse for us to write sensitive, sad boy music.”

-Jordan Reed

So it’s not jazz. It’s really good, and it was born out of improvising. I can get behind that. Check it out!

What’re You Spinning // Alex Burgoyne

“I’ll play it and tell you what it is later.”

One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.
I can’t get over how effortlessly beautiful and groovy this is
Joe Williams and Sarah Vaughn sound SO good. The way they manipulate phrases so effortlessly is the gonest.
Dinah! Unbelievable voice and cool – I love how big she is in this recording. And 1:15 is so hip.

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