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Blue Note Jazz Club Will Reopen in June, with an All-Star Blue Note Jazz Festival

Robert Glasper at Blue Note
Robert Glasper during his 2019 residency at the Blue Note Jazz Club.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, as some jazz clubs in New York pivoted to video and others ventured a restrictive return, the Blue Note remained dark, a conspicuous reminder of some unforgiving financial realities for the live music industry.

That long streak is about to come to an end. The Blue Note will reopen next month, in time for the 2021 Blue Note Jazz Festival, presented by Sony. Running June 15 through Aug. 15, it will feature performances both outdoors at SummerStage and on the Blue Note stage. The first artist back in the club will be keyboardist Robert Glasper, whose most recent release, with R+R=NOW, was recorded during his Blue Note residency in 2018. Here is footage of Glasper in the club the following year, backing Common on his vintage track "The Light."

Glasper's engagement, from June 15-20, will be followed by an all-star roster of contemporary artists, including Jacob Collier (June 21), the Ravi Coltrane Quartet (June 24-27), Joel Ross (June 28) and Eddie Palmieri (July 4, 5 and 19, Aug. 2). Club capacity will be restricted according to guidelines from the City of New York and New York state, along with the Center for Disease Control.

"We feel immense gratitude and appreciation for the artists performing at the Blue Note as we reopen," Alex Kurland, Blue Note's Director of Programming, says in a press announcement. "We are grateful to get back to presenting special and intimate live shows at Blue Note with such extraordinary artists."

Blue Note Jazz Festival 2021 poster

The Blue Note Jazz Festival's SummerStage lineup consists of three concerts,
by trumpeter Chris Botti (June 20); George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic (June 27); and Galactic featuring Anjelika 'Jelly' Joseph and MonoNeon (July 11).

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Blue Note Jazz Festival, and four of the artists on the lineup also appeared in its inaugural edition: Botti, Palmieri, Ron Carter and Eric Krasno. But for the jazz community, the return of live performance to West Third Street may be the most welcome Blue Note news.

It so happens that some of the final moments in the club were documented: trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah recorded his engagement during the second week of March last year, and released a live album titled Axiom. The album, which earned two Grammy nominations, opens with a piece called "I Own the Night," and you can hear Adjuah address the elephant in the room near the close of the track. "We're not running," he says. "I mean, wash your damn hands, but we're not running."

For more information about the Blue Note Jazz Festival, visit the official website.

A veteran jazz critic and award-winning author, Nate Chinen is editorial director at WBGO and a regular contributor to NPR Music.