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Live Review: Second Annual Brooklyn Jazz Underground Festival

Benny Lackner
Benny Lackner

From generation to generation, like-minded musical cohorts have formed collectives to help them realize their ideas and bring greater attention to their work. In the early ’60s, several renegade musicians banded together to form the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), which spawned the Art Ensemble of Chicago and also helped launch the careers of Muhal Richard Abrams, Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell and Phil Cohran. Twenty years later it was the Brooklyn-based M-BASE, which jump-started the careers of Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Cassandra Wilson and Graham Haynes, among others. In that same spirit of strength in numbers, a new Brooklyn-based collective has emerged to promote a batch of promising young composers and bandleaders on New York’s alternative jazz scene.

For its second Annual Brooklyn Jazz Underground festival, nine BJU bands were showcased over three consecutive nights at the cozy, aptly named Smalls nightclub in the heart of Greenwich Village. While there is a vital club scene thriving outside of Manhattan in such neo-hip Brooklyn neighborhoods as Park Slope (Tea Lounge, Barbés) and Williamsburg (Rose Live Music, Zebulon), Smalls has remained the epicenter for emerging talent, an important base of operations for young jazz musicians new in town looking to develop contacts and get gigs. So it is only fitting that the BJU chose this subterranean haven to showcase its current roster of artists.

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