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Jazz Standard Closes Due to Pandemic, But May Reemerge

Jonathan Chimene
Drummer Johnathan Blake leads a group at Jazz Standard in May 2018, with Chris Potter and Mark Turner on saxophones and Ben Street on bass.

The pandemic has claimed its first major New York City jazz club. Jazz Standard, which opened in 1997, has shut its doors.

Recordings of many artists were made there, among them the Maria Schneider Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band, trumpeter Dave Douglas, and pianist Fred Hersch. Artistic director Seth Abramson says the reaction from the jazz community has been overwhelming. “The overarching sentiment is one of great loss and then one of great gratitude,” he said, “for having had the opportunity to be a part of the room and for the opportunity to play in and (be) given the freedom to express themselves.”

It’s not all bad news though for Jazz Standard. The club’s owners say they hope to resurrect it somewhere at some point in the future. Abramson says the club had a unique vibe. “The club was a home and a venue for the artists and the fans to congregate,” he said. “It gave the artists a stage to do what they wanted to do and have their fans be able to be there and enjoy the entire experience.”

He pointed out that the club had no minimum, and aimed to be as welcoming to new jazz fans as to regulars. “No scowling if someone didn’t want to order a drink or food,” said Abramson.

The owners say they hope to bring it back somewhere ---sometime in the future. “It’s a room and there’s history in there that cannot be duplicated in another physical space,” he said, “but at the same time all these great artists and the fans and the people are what made it what it was and that can go somewhere else, ultimately.”

In the meantime the owners say there will be artist interviews and virtual performances online, including a Facebook Live series presented along with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.