By Tim Ferguson
As warm weather returns and we begin to see the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greenwich Village is coming back to life. With that re-awakening, jazz fans have some reasons to feel hopeful. Smalls (https://www.smallslive.com/) and Mezzrow are both back to regular shows for live audiences! While there are still limited numbers allowed and various protocols that must be followed, the clubs are open and bands are playing! Go hear some great jazz!
It is still unclear when or if other Village jazz venues will be open again, although in one case we know of a club that will not be coming back. Sadly, the word came out in mid-May that Arthur’s Tavern, the oldest jazz club in New York City, will not be reopening. A petition has been circulated to try save the club but it’s too early to know how effective it will be. Ironically, the decision to close the historic venue was made by the owners of the Blue Note, who own Arthur’s and the building that houses it. The petition says, in part: Some years ago, a rumor went around that The Blue Note Entertainment Group—which owns the building—would be closing Arthur’s Tavern. In response, The Blue Note Entertainment Group issued the following statement:
“We purchased Arthur’s Tavern so that the site would not become a victim to the changing times. We are committed to preserving jazz and legendary live music venues in New York City. Arthur’s Tavern is the epitome of this mission, a truly historic venue that will be here for many years to come.”
It seems that there has been a change of heart experienced by the management of that entertainment group. Readers can sign this petition: change.org/p/owner-or-future-owner-of-57-grove-street-please-don-t-close-arthur-s-tavern-nyc-s-oldest-jazz-club
Meanwhile, still no word on when or if the Village Vanguard will welcome audiences once again. The revered club has been offering wonderful livestream shows villagevanguard.com/) and continues to do so, but has not made any announcement to our knowledge of reopening intentions.
Also, still unknown are the fates of the 55 Bar (55 Christopher Street), Fat Cat (75 Christopher Street), the Bar Next Door (131 MacDougal Street), and Zinc Bar (82 West 3rd Street). Zinc Bar is the only one of these open as of this writing, serving drinks at their sidewalk café and featuring live Brazilian music by the wonderful duo of Valtinho Anastácio & Leandoro Pellegrino every Sunday from 4:00-7:00.
The last year and a half has been a rough ride for us all, for some more than others, but for the jazz community it has been nothing short of disastrous. As the musicians and clubs begin to get back on their feet, please make a point of supporting their efforts. These are the greatest practitioners of one of this country’s only truly indigenous art forms, and Greenwich Village is one of the most important destinations for the music.