On Saturday and Sunday, January 16 and 17, Mose Allison will perform in Los Angeles as part of the Movable Feast concert series presented by Ruth Price and the folks at The Jazz Bakery, a venue currently without a permanent home. The shows will be presented at the Coronet Theater at Largo, the uber-hip LA nightspot, located at 366 N. Cienga Boulevard. Shows are at 8pm and 9:30pm. The phone number for reservations is 310-271-9039. For more information, you can also visit the Jazz Bakery web site.
Over the last 10 years or so, many a jazz club has lost its home due to rising real estate costs or other economic reasons. Most never manage to restart in a new location and jazz musicians and fans lose another outlet for the music. When Ruth Price had to vacate the premises in Culver City where the Jazz Bakery had been since 1992, she didn’t waste any time searching for alternatives. Or at least not much time.
“Actually it took me about two weeks to get my bearings once I got the news. The owner of the building had been renting to us for so many years at a very reasonable rate, but when he became ill, his son took over and decided to put in a furniture store in our location. We had just 30 days notice. Wow.” Wow indeed. This change happened in June of 2009. Price immediately got to work putting chairs, piano, sound system and other vital resources into storage. And while she looked for another permanent location, she decided to keep presenting shows in the area.
“I decided to call it ‘A Movable Feast’ after the Hemingway book.” Indeed, the term does quickly get across the idea of a venue on the move. But don’t let the “Feast” part of the name fool you: there is no food or catering involved. The club has always prided itself on presenting the music in a concert setting that one would find in a theater. Many folks, myself included, may have been fooled by the venue’s name, imagining the funky back room of a homey bakery, but in fact the name came as much from its inspiration. “I couldn’t call it The Cookery [Barney Josephson’s legendary nightspot in downtown NYC, now a Capital One bank branch servicing mostly NYU students], and I didn’t want to call it Ruth’s Joint, because that seemed tacky. So since we were in the Culver City Baking building, I decided on The Bakery.”
The venue became known for its respect for the artists and the music, but all good things must come to an end, or in this case, a different place. Price, a jazz vocalist herself, has found it takes a lot of time and energy to book music into various locations. “I have to coordinate not only the artists’ availability, but also the venue’s. It’s very tricky and it seems to take as much time to book one show as it used to take to book a week or two of shows.”
Price said that she recently found another interesting venue to present shows she’s booked. “We love this theater called the Ivy Sub Station in Culver City. It’s where the Actors Gang works and it’s run by Tim Robbins.” Price will be presenting the unique vocalist Tessa Souter there on Valentine’s Eve on February 13. In addition, she’ll present pianist (and JT cover subject) Hiromi at the Japan-America theater later in the year.
Although Price has seen her audience stick by her peripatetic ways, she’s hoping that Allison’s show at Largo will draw a new and younger crowd from that venue’s regular audience. The witty singer-pianist will have a new CD coming out in March on Anti/Epitaph, a label known more for its alternative rock artists, including Tom Waits, Neko Case and Bad Religion. The CD, The Way of the World, was produced by rock hipster and artist Joe Henry and features the usual array of originals and covers, including a typically wry variation of Little Walter’s “My Babe” that he refashions as “My Brain.” For the performance at Largo, Allison will be accompanied by stellar jazz bassist Tom Warrington. And he’ll be playing on a Steinway, a piano that Price, as the promoter who must see to all such details on the run, felt compelled to mention.
Meanwhile, the search for a permanent home for The Jazz Bakery goes on. Price confirmed that she’s optimistic that she’ll have something in place in the coming months. “All I can say is that we’re getting closer to finding a permanent home. I’m very excited about the possibility.”
Meanwhile, LA jazz fans will have to take to their ubiquitous cars and search out the next Movable Feast. Isn’t that why GPS devices were created?