Recently I entered The Jazz Standard, one of my favorite places for jazz in New York or any other city, to eat some gourmet barbeque, hear some unique electric jazz and talk to the men who would be making the music. On the first two counts I got exactly what I expected but on the final count I got much more than I bargained for. I had been invited to attend the performance by Animation, the band led by trumpeter Tim Hagans and saxophonist Bob Belden, and was asked if I wanted to interview the guys before the show. I was eager to do both as electric jazz is my thing, as they say, and though I’ve enjoyed any number of conversations with Tim I’d never met or talked to Bob Belden and was intrigued to do so.
I’ve been to the Jazz Standard many times and not just to hear music. The crew there has been so welcoming and accommodating to me when I come early for sound check to catch the artists for conversation right before their first set of the night. I’ve made it a regular series over the years and have enjoyed interviews with artists like Greg Osby, Gretchen Parlato, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Michael Wolff, Julian Lage, Dave Samuels, Jacky Terrasson, Amina Figarova and many more. Plus, I make it a habit to come early enough to enjoy some of the delicious treats on the menu created by Danny Meyer, the man who is oftentimes called the premier restaurateur in New York. Being a born and raised Southerner I know a little about barbeque. Mr. Meyer hails from Kansas City, where they also know a bit about smoked meat, and has a belief that jazz and barbeque go together in a natural way. That’s why he opened the Jazz Standard down below his Blue Smoke Restaurant, which sits above and feeds the Jazz Standard patrons. A wise man this Danny Meyer.