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Photo Gallery: George Coleman & friends celebrating the Smoke Jazz Club’s 25th anniversary

NEA Jazz Master George Coleman has a long history with Smoke, the intimate and beloved Upper West Side jazz and supper club in NYC. Big G, as he is affectionately known, opened the club back in April of 1999 and also helped re-open the club in July of 2022 after a major expansion during the down time of the pandemic. At 89, Big G was back again, leading a powerful group of musicians to kick-off the celebration of Smoke's 25th anniversary. The quintet varied slightly during the week, but for the final Sunday night, it included Michael Weiss on piano, John Webber on bass, Carl Allen on drums and Russell Malone on guitar. They played mostly standards and Big G sounded strong. Then George announced that there were some invited guests whom he asked to come up, and at that point the vibe became more of a jam session with Big G as the leader. And he was clearly the leader, calling out the tunes and telling his band exactly how they were to be played. Two more saxes and the dynamic trombone of Steve Turre really helped ratchet up the party atmosphere, and it was a nice way to end a big weekend of music and to kick off the 25th anniversary, a milestone that Smoke intends to celebrate for the entire year.

Long time music lover and WBGO listener, Jonathan proudly joined the WBGO team in Mid 2018.  He is a former collegiate and tournament tennis player – with international experience both as a player and a coach. Jonathan is a published photographer, who enjoys checking out jazz clubs and festivals throughout the world, and is a life-long, die-hard New York Mets fan. Raised in Central NJ but  after a long stint in Chicago, he has resided in Brooklyn for the past two decades.