No excuses Nashville! You have the top shelf, Nashville Jazz Orchestra (NJO) now performing LIVE Big Band Jazz every Tuesday night at the French Quarter Café in East Nashville. First note at 7pm, you catch two mind-blowing sets and be on your way home by 9:30pm. The minimal cover charge of $10.00 and no drink minimum is a perfect value for today’s entertainment dollar, especially if want a sample of what big band music is all about. Once you hear it, be fair warned, you might get hooked. This is not your father’s big band, no blue ruffled tuxedo shirts or fancy bubble machine behind the band. Just pure, powerful music made by a world class jazz orchestra.
It was Tuesday night November 3rd. In Nashville following a morning meeting, a friend’s email announced a new but recurring big band jazz night at the French Quarter Café in East Nashville. So this board-certified, jazz junky programmed the GPS to "823 Woodland St. Nashville TN, put a smile on my face and hit the road.
At 7pm sharp (a welcome change from jazz venues that announce start times which only later become a rumor at worst and a suggestion at best) BAM the music exploded from the stage. For the next two and a half hours with a brief intermission between sets, the NJO explored the blues, odd metered original compositions, ballads, standards, Latin arrangements and virtually everything in between. During the break, the band mingled with the crowd as if it was just a relaxed, fun loving evening of musicians and music lovers. Oh wait a minute...maybe that’s exactly what it was. This jazz journalist was privileged to be part of this memorable evening. Seconds please!
So, what’s on the musical menu? The NJO, led by Jim Williamson, comes with a fully stocked reed section, lots of greasy, swinging bones, (trombones that is), an extra crispy section of trumpets and a solid "meat and potatoes" rhythm section. This Tuesday’s menu specials included guest vocalist, Annie Sellick who killed it with two numbers each set and visiting Los Angeles-based trombonist Scott Whitfield who jumped in to got the 'bones cooking. The second set started with trombone and rhythm section only. The slides were a groovin' hard. Word is all kinds of special surprises are planned.
Nashville is blessed to have such amazing musicians who are willing and able play original, challenging, hard charging music. It is only a matter of time before this highly artistic experiment, a true laboratory for new and creative and explosive music, becomes a standing room only event. Outside of New York and Los Angeles, there are few cities that can offer this music at this caliber. Get out and see for yourself. You will love hearing the band and I bet the band will love having you there.
French Quarter Café, 823 Woodland Street, Nashville, TN Phone 615-227-3100