The Bumble Bee's View of the Garden:

Opinions on Jazz and other topics
Jazz Music is good for your digestion.

I have been reading and enjoying a biography of the pianist Bill Evans (Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings, by Peter Pettinger; 1998, Yale University Press). In it there is a description of playing jazz in restaurants, circa 1970. Speaking of solo piano playing in such venues Evans is quoted as saying "It is sad that this great tradition in jazz is in danger of extinction because of the prevalent public attitude relegating the single pianist to background for conversation or dinner." This has been the topic for complaint and debate among us musicians for a long time now, and while I feel that there are not enough opportunities for us to present our work to audiences who are really listening, I would like to say some good words about the informal setting for the music that restaurants provide.

For one thing, there is the simple fact that we musicians have to work if we are going to survive, so I am grateful to anyone who gives us employment, as long as they treat us with dignity and respect in our business dealings. For another, the informality of the setting allows for us to quietly explore new repertoire and ideas. One colleague of mine, who prefers to play a more avant garde style of jazz, told me he has started playing some pretty "out" music in restaurants, just by staying with the more quiet and peaceful things in his repertoire. I find that I can try things out that might or might not survive close scrutiny, knowing that I can just make a quiet retreat with out having offended the serious listener. But most importantly, there is the sense that even though the diners are not listening intently, they are still receiving a benefit from our music making. I know this from the smiles and warm comments we receive as they leave; and it is not entirely uncommon to receive applause from time to time. I can also tell this from the fact that the restauranteurs keep hiring us.

The business of making music for careful listening has perhaps always been under duress. Even a casual reading of the history of the musical arts will show this, and it is certainly very true today. Just as my bothers and sisters, I do get frustrated with this, but I have also known some stretches in my career when I went a long time with out any gigs, so I try to keep it all in perspective. In keeping with this I would like to direct you to some restaurants in the Merrimack valley and northern suburbs of Boston where you can dine to Live Jazz.

Starting up in Concord, NH there is Hermanos, 11Hills Ave., 603-224-5669, www.hermanosmexican.com. They present jazz in their lounge Sunday through Thursday. In Nashua there is Michael Timothy’s, 212 Main St. 603-595-9334, with music seven days a week, and a new second restaurant across the street. In Lowell, MA, there is La Boniche, 143 Merrimack St. 978-458-9473, with jazz on Saturday, and Ricardo’s, 110 Gorham St 978-453-2777, who present music on Friday and Saturday. The Colonial Inn, 48 Monument Sq., Concord, MA 978-369-9200, has a variety of music through out the week with jazz on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Glory, 19 Essex, Andover, MA 978-475-4811, has a jazz duo on Thursdays and Saturdays. Finally, for this article, here is one that is new to me, Sushi Island, 7 Princess St., Wakefield Center, where you can dine to good jazz on Friday and Saturday, I believe. As with any of this sort of information, always call first to make sure you will not be disappointed. Bon Appétit!