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Keystone Korner Baltimore Reopens—and Not Just Virtually

Trumpeter Sean Jones leads off a series of in-person performances at the club

Sean Jones
Sean Jones

As we pass into the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the central challenge for the jazz community has become how to bring back live performance safely. In recent weeks, the initial explosion of online events from artists’ homes has been bolstered by livestreams from actual (though audience-less) New York clubs such as Smalls and the Village Vanguard. Today (June 25), as first reported by WBGO, the Jazz Gallery—which distinguished itself early on in the crisis with its wealth of web offerings, especially its regular Lockdown Sessions—is joining the ranks of the livestreamers with a performance by the Joel Ross Trio webcast from the club at 8 p.m. ET. Also today, Barbès in Brooklyn has officially reopened for business as a bar and is inaugurating a livestream series of its own with a 6 p.m. performance by guitarist Stephane Wrembel, though for the moment at least, patrons can’t watch the music onsite. But the most daring announcement today comes from Baltimore, where Keystone Korner is preparing for its grand reopening—yes, a real reopening, with actual live in-person audiences.

An emailed statement sent out earlier this week by the club’s management details some of the precautions that the venue will be taking to help prevent further spreading of the coronavirus at its events. “When our doors open this week,” it reads in part, “our highest priority is the health and safety of our guests, our employees, and our community. Therefore, the club will reopen at 50% capacity with more spacious seating and other public health protective measures, including new plexiglass panels between booths.”

For tonight’s reinaugural performance at Keystone Korner Baltimore, trumpeter Sean Jones will play two sets at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., backed by vibraphonist Warren Wolf, bassist Jeff Reed, and drummer Eric Kennedy. On Friday, June 26, Wolf takes over as leader, debuting his “power trio” Eternal Triangle. Keyboardist/composer Marcus Johnson will take the stage with his band on Saturday, June 27, and on Sunday, June 28, at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Tarsha Fitzgerald will present “Music Explosion,” featuring Gary W. Grainger, Robert ‘Wawa” LeGrand, Craig Alston, Edward “Junie” Henderson, John Lamkin III, Rodney Kelley II, and Mia Samone. The Saturday and Sunday sets will also be broadcast online, as will future performances from the club, including a weekend’s worth of sets from the Cyrus Chestnut All-Stars, scheduled for July 10-12.

To buy tickets (someone has to be first, right?) and find out more, visit the Keystone Korner Baltimore website.