Five years after the nonprofit Jazz in Arizona launched The Nash, the club continues to keep the genre alive with a variety of performances, and related events and activities.
But what is it that makes The Nash a success story? Intimacy is key, according to Joel Goldenthal, executive director of Jazz in Arizona.
“Jazz is definitely an intimate art form,” Goldenthal says. “It’s a very engaged and enthusiastic audience and we have people who enjoy the show and want to come back.”
This month, The Nash will is hosting a fifth anniversary celebration, featuring “all flavors of jazz,” Goldenthal says.
“It’s our way of really celebrating five incredibly successful years of building the jazz community,” he adds.
The celebration’s centerpieces are events honoring the 100th birthdays of Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald from October 7 to October 9.
The Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars are set to hit the stage at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Saturday, October 7. It will feature a long roster of musicians performing songs written by and associated with Gillespie. Among those performing are bassist and bandleader John Lee, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, saxophonist Sharel Cassity, pianist Cyrus Chestnut and venue namesake Lewis Nash on drums. Vocalist Roberta Gambarini will join the quintet as a special guest during its set.
“We have musicians who will be playing at the anniversary who I’ve known for many years in New York City, and who I have done many concerts and tours around the world with,” Nash says.
“These are my friends and co-practitioners of creating great jazz music. This will be a celebratory weekend, a festive weekend and one which just holds up the banner of continuing great jazz music in the United States and in the world.”
The weekend continues with Honoring Ella, starring Gambarini and Chestnut performing Fitzgerald classics. Sponsored by The Nash, this event, however, will take place at a nearby house at 3 p.m. Sunday, October 8. Directions will be given when reservations are made.
The celebration continues when Darcy James Argue joins the Scottsdale Community College Big Band for a show at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, October 8, at The Nash.
It concludes on Monday, October 9, when Cory Weeds & Friends – saxophonist Weeds, B3 organist Mike Kocour, guitarist Jeff Libman, drummer Dom Moio and Nash – perform exclusively for members and donors of The Nash.
A variety of special events surround the celebration, including several partnerships with the Musical Instrument Museum, which will honor Gillespie and Fitzgerald, Buddy Rich, Thelonius Monk and several other musicians born in 1917.
Although the venue provides an intimate outlet for local and worldwide musicians, The Nash is heavily intertwined with the local community and educators. The establishment runs workshops, lectures, Sunday jam sessions and a multitude of other activities and events, including school band performances.
“The environment or the vibe that we’ve tried to create there is one which is very welcoming to all, young and old and everywhere in between,” Nash says. “We also have an education component to it so it’s not only a jazz club. Private lessons, classes, lectures, etc. are a part of what we do there. So, it’s not just a club.”
An Arizona native, Nash has performed on more than 500 jazz recordings and 10 Grammy Award-winning albums, Nash was also named “Jazz’s Most Valuable Player” by Modern Drummer magazine.
“For me, having my name associated with such a venue is quite an honor,” Nash says. “(It) also carries with it a certain level of responsibility to maintain the standard of excellence.”
The Nash, which celebrated its grand opening on September 30, 2012, is primarily volunteer-driven in a city where there aren’t many opportunities to experience live jazz.
“Now, there is no other venue that is truly dedicated to jazz,” Goldenthal says. “That’s all we present here. There are no distractions. It’s a performance venue, and we have galvanized the jazz assets of the Valley here into building a jazz community.”
The Nash is continuing its mission to provide jazz shows throughout the year.
“It’s an art form that has been embraced worldwide and it’s taught and played in countries around the world by people of diverse ethnicities and nationalities,” Nash says.
“To me, jazz could arguably be called a ‘world music’ because it’s embraced by the entire world and played by musicians all over the world and revered by musicians and audiences all over the world.”
The Nash, 110 E. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix, 602.795.0464, thenash.org.
The Nash 5th Anniversary Celebration Calendar
Danilo Perez: PanaMonk
6 p.m. Friday, October 6
Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix
3N1 + Andy Gross
7:30 p.m. Friday, October 6
The Nash, 110 E. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix
The Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars
7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Saturday, October 7
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8
3 p.m. Sunday, October 8
Private home in Phoenix
Scottsdale Community College Big Band w/ Darcy James Argue
7:30 p.m. Sunday, October 8
Cory Weeds & Friends
7:30 p.m. Monday, October 9
Free to $25; members only
Matt Lennex & The Giants of Jazz
7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 14
Emmett Cohen Trio
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 18
7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 21
7:30 p.m. Friday, October 27
Musical Instrument Museum
Lucian Ban & Mat Maneri – Transylvanian Concert
7:30 p.m. Friday, October 27
Dmitri Matheny – Jazz 100
7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 28