The Nash has spent the last 10 years filling a void for jazz fans in the Valley, and the staff hopes to expand its offerings going forward.
Executive director and jazz pianist Joel Goldenthal says The Nash has been satisfying a pent-up community need since Wynton Marsalis played the first note at the club on September 30, 2012.
“Everything that’s happened at The Nash has been from people walking in the front door wanting to be involved in it,” he says.
That includes a key component to The Nash — its education programs like summer jazz workshops, emerging artist program, master classes and clinics, Hot Dogs & Jazz, The Nash Legacy Ensembles, The Nash Vocal Ensemble, The Nash Futures Workshop, Nash Jazz DivAZ and Sunday Jam Sessions.
“The educators all came to us and asked to do these programs at The Nash,” Goldenthal says. “The jam session has been a steady flow of musicians, audiences, teachers and supporters who just want to be involved.”
Named in honor of musician Lewis Nash, the club will celebrate its 10th anniversary Thursday, October 27, to Sunday, October 30.
It kicks off with a VIP private preview at 6 p.m. Thursday, October 27, where guests can see a 10-Year Photo Exhibition, which runs throughout the 2022-23 season.
The celebration officially kicks off Friday, October 28, with Cocomama Latin Jazz at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.
On Saturday, October 29, Hot Dogs & Jazz makes its return from 11 to 11:45 a.m. Families are invited to this free event that includes a jazz performance geared for all ages, an instrument petting zoo and an expo of The Nash education programs fostering the next generation of jazz musicians, followed by a free hot dog lunch with the band.
Furthering that mission, the education expo is from noon to 1:30 p.m. and features performances by The Nash’s Education Ensembles, including The Nash JazzDivAZ (all-female ensemble of musicians ages 10 to 17), The Nash Legacy Ensembles (top high school jazz musicians selected by audition) and The Nash Jazz Vocal Ensemble (community-based group of jazz vocalists).
Prior to the performances, the city of Phoenix mayor’s office will present a proclamation to The Nash to honor its contributions to the community and to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
The club’s namesake, drummer Lewis Nash, will perform with his All-Star Quintet at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. that night.
The Nash volunteers will be honored during a private event on Sunday, October 30. A public concert with the SCC Jazz Orchestra and Jimmy Greene will happen at 7:30 p.m.
Longtime Valley attorney Herb Ely pitched the idea for The Nash to Goldenthal over coffee in the end of 2010.
“He told me he wanted to open a jazz venue in Downtown for the purpose of giving young people a chance to be exposed to this music,” Goldenthal recalls.
“I suggested to do it through Jazz in Arizona, a nonprofit founded in 1977. We connected Lewis Nash to it because of his stature in the jazz world as a musician and educator and a role model we would want to put forth.”
The Nash was conceived and born in one day, Goldenthal says.
“It took about a year and a half to get it off the ground,” he adds. “There were many naysayers. It was interesting, the negativity toward it in the beginning. People were skeptical of a jazz venue being a nonprofit and having the youth as the focus. But that gives us the special position.
“There is no other entity in the country that has the exact model we have. We provide students an opportunity to experience these jazz greats in live performance. Nothing done in the four walls of academia begins to approach the impact of experiencing the greats in live performance.”
In the early days of The Nash, the staff was just Goldenthal. It has since been expanding.
“When we started out 10 years ago, I was the only staff person,” Goldenthal says. “We added a managing director about year five. Then we had just, in the last our months, added our first development and marketing director and our first full-time education director. Those additions to the staff have just put us in a position to really grow and maximize our potential.”
Going forward, Goldenthal sees the educational programs expanding. They are, in earnest, evaluating the facility for the future to figure out how to accommodate the growth.
“The performance venue doesn’t have to be any bigger,” he says.
“Jazz is an intimate art form. If we could do two shows with 116 people in them, that would be just dandy. Clearly in order to accommodate additional educational programs, we’re going to need more space under the same roof. I think that’s the biggest opportunity that we have — expanding to accommodate the growth that the market is asking for.”
110 E. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix