10/16/09

Legacy of Les Paul Continues at Iridium

For well over 20 years, guitarist Les Paul held forth on Monday nights in New York City--first at Fat Tuesday’s, and since 1996 at Iridium on Broadway at 51st Street. Paul would crack jokes about his wife, and even play a little guitar. Or a lot. Famous and not-so-famous players from the worlds of rock and jazz would pay homage or even sit in. Like seeing Woody Allen at Michael’s Pub, seeing Paul perform at Iridium became a special pilgrimage for guitar and music fans of all generations. With Paul’s death last month, the show would have seemed to be over, but it turns out that the members of his group— Lou Pallo on guitar, John Colianni on piano and Nicki Parrott on bass—are going to keep his legacy alive by performing with a series of guest artists.

Ron Sturm, who runs Iridium, became very close to Paul over the years and found so much to admire about the man. “I admired his passion for the instrument, his appreciation for things large or small. He treated people the same – it didn’t matter if they were celebrities or just fans. He was a humanitarian who tried to touch people with his music.” Sturm said that Paul was often offered engagements at large venues, but Paul wasn’t interested. “He preferred to play to a small audience. He enjoyed the intimacy of Iridium.”

Sturm said that he felt it was important to keep Paul’s legacy alive at the Iridium and in the world at large. And since his greatest joy came from playing and reaching people with his music, the choice was clear. “We felt the best way to honor him would be to keep Monday nights as his night, with the Les Paul Trio, along with special guests.” Sturm said that Paul’s own eclecticism meant that the series would have to be as diverse as his interests and influences. “Most of the artists will be jazz, but there will be some rock and rollers too, like Slash and Joe Satrianni. Les influenced guitar players from jazz, rock, country, pop, you name it.”

The club’s connection doesn’t end with the shows on Monday nights. Sturm plans to dedicate several walls of the club to Paul’s memory, with some of his vintage guitars on display. “We want to preserve his legacy for present and future generations, not just as a musician, but also as an innovator.” Sturm added, “We’ll be donating a portion of the proceeds from every Monday night performance to the Les Paul Foundation.” Although the foundation’s plans are still under way and not concrete yet, Sturm envisions the foundation as helping deserving young musicians with scholarships or instruments, as well as assisting in the fight against some of the illnesses Paul suffered from, such as arthritis.

Scheduled to perform with the Les Paul Trio on upcoming Mondays are:

Oct. 19: LARRY CORYELL
Oct. 26: BUCKY PIZZARELLI
Nov. 2 & 16: STANLEY JORDAN
Nov. 9: STEVE MILLER
Nov. 23 & 30: MIKE STERN
Dec. 7 & 14: PAT MARTINO WITH ELDAR
Dec. 21 & 28: JOSE FELICIANO

For more information about the Iridium Jazz Club, go to their web site or call 212-582-2121.

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