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Roosevelt Street Gets Jazz Venue in The Nash

Published: Monday, October 1, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 14:10

The Nash

Valeri Spiwak

Local musicians, like trumpet player Noah Simpson, are welcome to play freestyle jam sessions every Sunday night.

Imagine a venue where you can create music alongside your favorite musicians and music gurus. That is exactly what the musicians and jazz enthusiasts at The Nash on Roosevelt Street get to do everyday.

With the budget cuts and disappearing music programs in schools, student musicians do not have as many opportunities to grow as musicians. More specifically, there is no place for the students to play in small groups alongside some of the nation's best living jazz players.

That’s why educational and performance programs will be one of the most important aspects at the new jazz performance space. The idea for the education and performance jazz spot came from former Jazz in Arizona board member and award-winning musician Kurt Elling and will include classic jazz appreciation, performances by student musicians and local jazz practitioners, weekly jam sessions, one-on-one private lessons, jazz composition workshops, clinics, guided listening, jazz in film, jazz camp.

In a search to find a performance space in downtown Phoenix, Joel Goldenthal, the executive director for the Jazz in Arizona nonprofit organization that supports the preservation of jazz music in Phoenix, turned to the renowned artistic hub of Roosevelt Street, the main vein of First and Third Fridays.

He felt The Nash on Roosevelt would be the perfect location for putting a spotlight on jazz in the Valley, due to its proximity to the Arts District and light rail. Thus far, students from as far as Gilbert have come to practice.

"Jazz is a hallmark of the major, culturally rich cities," Goldenthal said. "We want to become the one-stop shop for jazz."

Goldenthal feels that the single most distinguishable factor that separates jazz from any other genre of music is the improvisation.

Jazz musicians must hone the ability to create new melodies over the original framework of a song on the spot.

"Jazz is arguably the most creative art form," Goldenthal said. "It is art that is created in the moment."

Phoenix-born jazz musician and the club’s namesake Lewis Nash was the driving force of inspiration for this jazz club.

He's everyone’s favorite drummer because of what he brings to other musicians in terms of support and motivation, Goldenthal said.

The Nash had a "soft" opening that allowed the public to peek into the aspiring space, and its grand opening, featuring two concerts, is scheduled for this Wednesday.

For the concerts, Nash gathered some of the top jazz icons in the country and formed The Lewis Nash All-Star Quintet. Members include legends Houston Person on the sax, Russell Malone playing guitar, Cedar Walton on the piano, Christian McBride on bass and Lewis Nash playing the drums.

The opening night is a fundraising event with a pre-concert party with cocktails and hor d'oeuvres at Carly's Bistro.

The Nash, 110 E. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix,, Wednesday, October 3, 7 and 9 p.m., $25 to $100

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