Jazz at Lincoln Center: Diggin' Dizzy's

Classic Arts Features   Jazz at Lincoln Center: Diggin' Dizzy's
Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola continues to surpass expectations. Upcoming events include an appearance by legendary tenor saxophonist Frank Wess, followed by the Caribbean Jazz Summit.

Tony Bennett calls it "the best jazz room in the city," and Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola has firmly established itself as the hip place to hang for world-class jazz in New York. With an incredible view of Central Park and the NYC skyline, the 140-seat club of curved bamboo walls is a destination location for musicians, international jazz lovers, and celebrities alike.

Manager Roland Chassagne or Assistant Manager Desmond Prass greet patrons nightly at the door with a smile and a handshake. Todd Barkan is the club's Artistic Manager and books the talent.

Barkan has decades of experience in finding jazz talent and has a proven track record of producing world-class jazz recordings. "The jazz players we love the most paint indelible musical portraits from the palette of their hearts, with the brushwork of their souls. Roland, Desmond and I work hard every day and night to create the clearest canvas and the warmest, least obtrusive environment for both the artists and the audience to experience these musical stories as they unfold."

"In some ways," says Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) Executive Director Adrian Ellis, "it's implausible that a jazz club is on the fifth floor of a retail space! I think it's remarkable that in the three and a half years it has been open, Dizzy's has become one of the three or four important clubs in the ecology of jazz in the city of New York.

"I think the programming is superb. We have developed a niche from an inspired programmer who has a depth of experience probably unequaled in the field. Whether we're talking about the late sets, the main programming, or about UPSTARTS! on Monday nights, we have consistently great offerings. It's clear that people come to the club for the programming, but they also come because they can really have a great night out."

Frederick P. Rose Hall, home to Jazz at Lincoln Center is located at Broadway at 60th Street on the 5th floor and boasts three performance venues: Rose Theater, The Allen Room and Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. When the facility opened in 2004, the future was wide open.

"The club has exceeded all reasonable expectations, becoming the flagship of Jazz at Lincoln Center, which I don't think was anticipated on the outset," explains Ellis, a club regular. "Certainly since I've been here, I have seen some unbelievable music. I bring my kids there. I have a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old and they love it. I just really like the vibe and the fact the audience has a wide range. There are a lot of musicians these days in the audience. I like the menu, too!" (Great Performances is the exclusive caterer of Frederick P. Rose Hall and collaborated with Spoonbread, Inc. to create recipes for the menu and cocktail selections, offering down-home flavors with New York flair.)

Ellis has done his homework. "I've been to a lot of jazz in the city. The Village Vanguard is a wonderful institution, the Blue Note programs great music. I like The Jazz Standard. I've spent more hours in Smoke than I can remember. I'm not saying Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola is the only jazz club in the city, I'm saying it is now a linchpin of the jazz community. Its distinctive programming, the ambience, the whole vibe gives it real validity as an institution."

"We are also recording a lot," Ellis adds. "We usually record on Fridays and Saturdays for XM Radio, Real Jazz, Channel 70‹and those shows are worth hearing. It also gives musicians an opportunity to reach a broader audience. I'm very pleased with that."

In booking the club, Barkan has tried to create a non-stop jazz festival with creative and musical architecture that appeals to a broad spectrum of jazz fans, with a combination of jazz veterans and younger players.

Legendary tenor saxophonist Frank Wess brings a one-time-only 'Celebration Nonet' into Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola from June 3-8 with Cyrus Chestnut, Scott Robinson, Terell Stafford, Ted Nash, Winard Harper, et. al. The Caribbean Jazz Summit takes place June 10-15, featuring Dion Parson and Ron Blake. Alto saxophone icon Lee Konitz swings sublimely with young piano wizard Dan Tepfer June 17-22, joined by Peter Bernstein, Ray Drummond, and Matt Wilson. Funky jazz titans Dr. Lonnie Smith and David "Fathead" Newman join forces June 24-29.

July and August are anchored by Russell Malone's Quartet, the Marcus Roberts Trio, Flora Purim & Airto with Toninho Horta, Cedar Walton's Quartet with Vincent Herring and Quintet with Steve Turre, Trio Da Paz with Joe Locke, Maucha Adnet, and Harry Allen, and Roy Haynes & Fountain of Youth. After Hours sets feature bands led by exciting young players including pianist Gerald Clayton, drummer E.J. Strickland and singer/pianist Champian Fulton. Mondays are highlighted by both strong student jazz ensembles from Juilliard, the Manhattan School of Music, and the New School as well as up-and-coming artists Elio Villafranca with special guest Eric Alexander and young ASCAP Award winners.

From the world-class headliners to the newer talent featured on UPSTARTS! Mondays to the late-night hang with After Hours sets, the club covers a multitude of talent. Student rates are some of the most competitive in the city, including $5 for After Hours sets. Selected Saturdays offer free Jazz Battles, Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad and Middle School Academy concerts.

Perhaps Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola Manager Chassagne sums it up best, saying that since the club opened on October 21 (Dizzy Gillespie's birthday) in 2004, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola has developed a loyal following of regulars that come to the club, some who have been there more than 150 times. Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola Manager Roland Chasagne credits the tremendous effort of the staff, its ideal location and, of course, the jazz music that is presented nightly. "I offer the staff this simple reminder," says Chasagne: "'In Vibe We Trust.' Create a cool vibe and you'll have a cool place."

For more information, visit www.jalc.org/dccc or call (212) 258-9595 for reservations.

Scott H. Thompson is Assistant Director for Public Relations at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

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