actual jazz in an actual basement

This weekend I went out to see some actual jazz in an actual basement.  How atmospheric!  Granted, traditional jazz basements are full of smoke, which current laws forbid, but the ceilings and the lights were low, the seating was eclectic and hard on the back) and the crowd sipped tea and coffee while waiting to listen to Laurence Juber play the guitar.  I shot around a bit with my Fuji X10.


This was the second time I have seen Mr. Juber perform, and once again he did not disappoint.  Far from it.  I don’t play the guitar myself and I’m sure a lot of the details of his style and technique go right over my head, but I know he is considered a master of the instrument.  The results were delightful to listen to and challenging enough to make you forget that you are sitting on a folding chair.  Mr. Juber is a gentle and compelling performer, intense behind the guitar but modest and low key as he shares a joke or an anecdote from his long career while he tunes his instrument.  The set (one long one with no break– an impressive accomplishment) was built of an intriguing combination of his own compositions, jazz standards and the Beatles/Wings songs from his years as the lead guitarist for the latter band.  You can guess which garnered the most applause if you know one of my personal true facts: “Old people like the Beatles”.  I myself am a big fan of his cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway”.

I normally can’t stand it when people take cellphone pictures during a concert, but I couldn’t resist sneaking a couple shots (with my silenced phone!) at the very end of Mr. Juber’s last encore.

The simple mural of the moon and the little picket fence make very effective setting for acoustic jazz. I may go back to this basement to hear some more music sometime soon.

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6 Responses to actual jazz in an actual basement

  1. Rick Santman says:

    I seem to recall reading an article about photos of old jazz (and other) musicians that have a certain elegance and mood to them that can’t be reproduced today….because the old jazz clubs were chock full of cigarette smoke, which acted as a filter to all the photography.

    • Pam Bliss says:

      I am 100% sure that’s true. I’m old enough to to have done my share of bar and restaurant photography when it was legal for these spaces to be filled with smoke, and yes, it adds a certain something, particularly when you’re shooting black and white.

  2. Meg says:

    Did you go to front porch?

  3. Wolfie says:

    Another great guitarist who plays in his own eclectic style is Adrian Legg. I’ve seen him a few times live and he’s always a treat.

  4. 1971wolfie says:

    My most memorable small venue jazz experience was seeing Charles Gayle in what was essentially a 25-by-40 foot cinderblock box of a basement in Detroit. Gayle does free jazz, which I know isn’t to everyone’s taste, but seeing him stalk around the room, blasting away at his saxes and clarinets as hard as he could (I played sax myself, and was in sympathetic pain and lightheaded after about 30 seconds, while he went on for well over an hour), the acoustics of the space bending and bouncing the sound around, echoing and shimmering while the bass-n-drum rhythm section kept up a frantic pace… was amazing. I talked a bit to the bassist afterward (he was sweating profusely and panting like he’d just run a marathon) and he admitted that it was very hard to keep up with Charlie.

    I also recently found out that another memorable concert I went to (John Cale at 7th House in Pontiac, an intimate little club) was also attended by a friend I didn’t know at the time.

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