Jazz club poised to open in Tarrytown
Sol Hurwitz, For The Journal News Published 11:10 a.m. ET Jan. 12, 2017 | Updated 1 hour ago
Video: Jazz Forum in Tarrytown at One Dixon Lane
Mark Morganelli, the executive director of Jazz Forum Arts talks about his new jazz club, Jazz Forum at One Dixon Lane in Tarrytown. Mark Vergari/lohud
There’s welcome news for jazz lovers. Jazz Forum, Westchester's newest jazz club, is slated to open in Tarrytown in March.
The brainchild of impresario Mark Morganelli, the club will present top names in jazz and Brazilian music, along with fine food and drinks, every weekend.
Morganelli recently toured Jazz Forum’s still unfinished space with a reporter, while an electrician was installing wiring, and wallboard was yet to be painted. In a corner stood a Steinway baby grand, a guitar, assorted percussion instruments, stacked chairs, and music stands.
Finished or not, Morganelli could imagine the look and feel of Jazz Forum when it opens for business.
“As you enter, you’ll come down this hallway, which opens to reveal a warm, inviting, and intimate jazz club,” he said. “About 75 folks will be seated at tables and high-tops, plus a dozen at the bar seated on comfortable barstools opposite the bandstand.”
A room with a large antique pool table adjoins the entrance hallway.
“Folks can shoot pool, have drinks here, or just hang while waiting for the next set,” he said. The wall was festooned with framed recordings by some of the titans of jazz, among them Wynton Marsalis, Sonny Rollins, Pat Metheny, and Paul Winter. “They were all signed to me by artists I’ve presented over the years,” Morganelli recalled, “except Ella [Fitzgerald] and Miles [Davis].”
The club is housed in a building that dates from 1910, which was once a bakery. Morganelli and his wife, Ellen Prior, bought the property two years ago. “We were looking to down-size from our river view home in Dobbs Ferry, until we saw this space. It spoke to us,” he said. They now live in a three-bedroom loft apartment above the club.
The bar has beed delivered and work continues on Jazz Forum, at One Dixon Lane, a new jazz club in Tarrytown, Jan. 10, 2017, under the direction of Mark Morganelli, the Executive Director of Jazz Forum Arts. (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)
Jazz Forum is a project of Jazz Forum Arts, a nonprofit organization of which Morganelli is executive director. The group is devoted to the presentation, appreciation, and understanding of jazz as a distinctly American art form. Last summer Jazz Forum Arts presented 34 free jazz concerts in Westchester.
“Jazz Forum is a great extension of the work of Jazz Forum Arts by offering jazz as it was performed in its earliest days—in an informal setting, in clubs,” said board president John Gunther-Mohr, Sr. of Dobbs Ferry, a banker in New York City.
With the operation of the club, Morganelli expects Jazz Forum Arts’ annual budget to double. The organization gets its revenues from grants, sponsorships, individual contributions, and starting this year from the club’s cover charges and food and beverage sales. The cover will start at $20 per person per set, plus a $10 minimum in food and drink per person per set.
Special events will further increase its income. Last November, 121 friends and supporters paid $100 to attend an “Evening of Jazz” at Shadowbrook, the sprawling former estate of Stan Getz, the legendary saxophonist, in Irvington. In a rotunda encircled by Corinthian columns and Tiffany stained glass windows, listeners sipped wine and swigged beer while bopping and swaying to tunes performed by three giants of jazz: Kenny Barron, pianist; Ray Drummond, bassist; and Jimmy Cobb, drummer. “This is the brand of superior music and relaxed atmosphere that patrons can expect at Jazz Forum,” Morganelli boasted.
Morganelli foresees a market for Jazz Forum beyond Westchester. “We have many friends and colleagues from Rockland and Putnam counties who are enthusiastic about regularly attending performances.”
Nor does he rule out enticing an audience of jazz buffs from New York City. “The club is only a five-minute walk from Metro North’s Tarrytown Station,” he stated.
Morganelli was introduced to jazz at age 9, when he began playing the trumpet. “I was encouraged by my late father, Joe Morganelli, who drummed on the floor to the strains of big band 78s and LPs,” he recalled. In New York City the younger Morganelli had an active career as a trumpet player and producer of jazz programs.
“Ellen and I moved to Dobbs Ferry from the upper west side in December 1991 and six months later I began presenting ‘Jazz at the Music Hall’ in Tarrytown, which ran for 22 years,” he said. “We produced about 150 concerts in Westchester in the spring and fall, and several dozen free concerts each summer.”
Could Jazz Forum become Westchester’s answer to Birdland and Village Vanguard, New York City’s premiere jazz clubs?
Morganelli replied without missing a beat: “Yes!”