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Missing Out on the Live Experience? Stay Up, Tune In, and Meet Greg Bryant In the Club

John Rogers

Quarantine. Lockdowns. Social distancing. As restrictions ease for some and remain for others, what does the new normal look like for concert goers and their audiences? When will the live music experience return in full? 2021? 2022? No answer seems definitive. 

Most likely, we are further away from a true return to concerts than any of us (artists, audiences, venues, outlets) would prefer. Our ultimate concerns are heath, wellness and maintaining basic needs. While we are finding some comfort and advancement in being together virtually via streaming broadcasts, it’s tempting to watch the days advance on the calendar and feel that we are just simply missing out. There is no exact substitute for a packed room with engaged patrons hanging on every note of a stalwart band.

To be honest, I’ve had that feeling of missing out on more than one occasion. Years ago, I had the opportunity to interview vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. Midway into our chat, I lamented that I was simply born too late: I’d missed out on hearing him during the 1960s, when so much activity and evolution was happening in the music. Almost before I could finish my thought, Mr. Hutcherson politely interrupted me with a correction, and three points of wisdom that I cherish to this day.

Credit Craig Lovell / Corbis via Getty Images
Corbis via Getty Images
Bobby Hutcherson performs at the Monterey Jazz Festival, in Monterey, Calif. in 2013.

“No, Greg,” he said. “You were born on time. All you have to do is put on one of those records that you love, close your eyes, concentrate on the sound...and you’re there. You’re right there with us.”

I've never forgotten that. 

This week, we’re launching a new feature series on Jazz After Hours called “In The Club.” Every night, we’ll play one selection in our first hour from a notable live album.

For the time being, the coronavirus pandemic has suspended normal operations for Minton’s, Smalls, The Village Vanguard, Birdland, Smoke and more. Many other celebrated rooms, like The Blackhawk in San Francisco and McKie’s Disc Jockey Lounge in Chicago, have been permanently closed for decades.

Thank goodness for recordings and live albums. We can turn on the music, close our eyes and be there again with Grant Green at Club Mozambique, with Sarah Vaughan at Mister Kelly’s, with Kurt Rosenwinkel at The Village Vanguard or with Keith Jarrett at The Blue Note.

So join me “In The Club” on Jazz After Hours, each Monday from midnight to 6 a.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 6 a.m. I’ll meet you there. 

Featured Sets this Week:

Monday, May 25: Medeski, Martin, Wood at Tonic 

Tuesday, May 26: Miles Davis at Lincoln Center

Wednesday, May 27: John Coltrane at Birdland

Thursday, May 28: Peter Bernstein at Dizzy’s Club 

Friday, May 29: Cyrus Chestnut at Smoke 

Greg Bryant has been a longtime curator of improvisational music. At the age of 3 in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, he was borrowing his father’s records and spinning them on his Fisher Price turntable. Taking in diverse sounds of artistry from Miles Davis, Les McCann, James Brown, Weather Report and Jimi Hendrix gave shape to Greg's musical foundation and started him on a path of nonstop exploration.