Music

Jazz Hands, Everyone: RI summer jazz guide

Now that live events have made their triumphant return to the Ocean State, it looks like jazz has made something of a comeback in the RI music scene. More clubs are starting to book regular, weekly jazz gigs, so right now is probably the best time to get back out into the scene and dig into some live jazz.

First off, if you’re anywhere in the state on a Sunday you’re probably within 20 minutes of listening to live jazz. Every Sunday at The Parlour in PVD you can catch a different group playing live in the 5 – 8pm slot. The first Sunday of every month is the Jazz Jam hosted by the Ben Shaw Quartet and is open to players of all ages and abilities. Other weeks feature acts such as Clear Audience, Modern Sounds and many more. Check out The Parlour Providence on Facebook for more details. If you’re looking to pair a signature cocktail with your music head over to Courtland Club in PVD to watch the Leland Baker Trio every Sunday night. Saxophonist Baker along with bassist Kweku Aggrey and drummer Marcus Grant make up what is arguably the best regularly performing trio in the city right now. Make sure you make a reservation ahead of time at courtlandclub.com so you can guarantee a table. The Courtland Club is an intimate setting.

Across the city line in East Providence, check out the Sunday Blues & Jazz Music Series happening every Sunday at The 133 Club. If you travel a little south from PVD you can hit The Updike Room at The Greenwich Hotel in East Greenwich to check out their slate of Sunday jam sessions which feature rotating house bands with incredible musicians such as David Zinno, Jay Azzolina and Dino Givoni. And if you head even further down to Newport you can catch the Chase Ceglie Quartet at the Firehouse Theater.

There’s also regular jazz or jazz-adjacent music happening around town during the other six days of the week. Pop over to Askew in PVD on Wednesday night and you can get your face melted off by The Autocrats, which features an all-star lineup of who’s who in the scene, including John Allmark and Dino Givoni, and even sometimes features local up-and-coming acts such as singer Alexus Lee, who performed a few weeks ago. Also on Wednesdays you can catch guitar duo Birt and Harley playing their signature style of jazz at The Royal Bobcat, a wicked cool bar on Atwells Ave in PVD which regularly hosts various other jazz ensembles. Be sure to find them on Instagram @theroyalbobcat for information on upcoming acts. 

On the first Saturday of the month PVD World Music Institute takes over the Long Live Beer Garden in downtown PVD to host Open Air Saturdays, regularly featuring some of the best musicians around town, including trombonist Dan Mach Holt, Birt and Harley and more. On the second Saturday of each month you can head to The Parlour again to catch RI favorites Evening Sky performing their roots-infused brand of jazz.

If you’re just looking for a “one off” sort-of night, there are also plenty of other events around that you can hit up in between catching the regular sessions. Friday, July 1, head to Chan’s in Woonsocket to catch Greg Piccolo and Heavy Juice. Piccolo is a former member of local legends Roomful of Blues, and in this new ensemble he explores traditional jazz, R&B and rock ’n’ roll. July 29 through 31 is the return of the historic Newport Jazz Festival at Fort Adams in – where else – Newport. This year’s lineup includes Norah Jones, Christian McBride, Terence Blanchard, Esperanza Spalding, Cory Wong, Ron Carter and so many more. Although three-day tickets are sold out, there are still two-day and single-day passes available. Head to newportjazz.org for more details. 

On Saturday August 27, Chan’s is hosting Daryl Sherman, Jay Leonhart and Friends. RI native and jazz legend Sherman has been part of the New York jazz scene since the mid-‘70s and will be showcasing her signature piano playing and singing alongside some of her long-time musical collaborators.

Though there is a lot here, this is just a teaser for what is sure to be a summer full of live jazz. Be sure to keep eyes open for more great announcements and events happening around you.

Ben Shaw is a composer, performer, and writer. Find his work at benjaminshawmusic.com

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