UPPER WEST SIDE JAZZ CLUB WORKS TO KEEP THE MUSIC ALIVE
'Smoke' modern day jazz club on the Upper West Side
Sandy Kenyon has more on the club and its music.
By Sandy Kenyon
Monday, April 13, 2015 04:40PM
UPPER WEST SIDE (WABC) — It's a labor of love for two former bartenders who opened a jazz bar on the Upper West Side with the very important mission of keeping jazz alive in the 21st Century.
It's a club called Smoke, on Broadway and 106th Street, where you can watch the giants of jazz make magic.
Co-owners Paul Stache and Frank Christopher are the keepers of the flame, true believers in the gospel passed down by the giants of jazz.
And Harold Mabern is one of the messengers.
"Like Duke Ellington said, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing," he said.
Mabern is a living link to a storied past, riding on the shoulders of those who came before him and inspiring those who come after by teaching jazz for decades at William Patterson University in Wayne, New Jersey.
"When people listen to hip-hop and they listen to rock and roll, it comes from the blues and it comes from jazz," Christopher said.
"I grew up around jazz," Stache said. "My dad took me to jazz clubs since I was 4 years old."
And if the idea is to educate, it is also to entertain.
"The music sells itself," musician Wayne Escoffery said. "We just need to get people to hear it because everybody falls in love with jazz. It's the essence of all modern music."
Christopher and Stache scraped enough money together to buy the place 16 years ago, and it has since become an institution.
"It's a small club, but it's very intimate," Mabern said. "And the people that work here and the people who run it are very warm, gracious, beautiful human beings…And they love the music."