Monday, October 3, 2011

The Jazz Room finds its groove

I’m a bit of a jazz fan, and I was excited at the news last winter that Waterloo Region would soon be home to a jazz club. Even better, the Grand River Jazz Society (GRJS) planned on presenting weekly live jazz events.

By September the society had opened The Jazz Room at the Huether Hotel in Waterloo, and had generated some real buzz around a musical art form that has been around for a century. They have performances planned for every Friday and Saturday for the next several months.

The venue has been open for a few weeks now, and I finally made it out this past Saturday night. I’ll note here that I’m no music critic, and I won’t try to review the music in any way, other than to say that it was terrific — having been to many jazz performances over the years, I do believe that jazz really is an art form that is at its best when experienced live.

My friend Michel and I arrived for our evening of jazz at around 6:30pm, getting supper and enjoying a set of solo piano by Glenn Buhr. Having arrived early we had great seats in front of the small stage, which made it easy to get immersed in listening to the music.

The headliner for the night was Kollage, represented in a quartet form — it’s usually a sextet — by its leader Archie Alleyne on drums along with pianist Stacie McGregor, bassist Artie Roth, and trumpeter Alexander Brown. Again, the music was terrific, and listening to Archie’s stories drawn from his decades-long career was a real delight. The three sets of great music from Kollage were enthusiastically received by the audience.

On a final note, the venue itself is warm and inviting, and has a great small club feel. Of course, that’s what The Jazz Room is, but getting the vibe right is still a tricky balance. GRJS has done a great job in preparing an intimate space for live jazz. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, and the experience is enjoyable all around.

Waterloo life has gotten better with the arrival of The Jazz Room, and I’m looking forward to returning there soon.

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