MUSIC Blues in the Night

A guide to Dallas jazz clubs.

The rebirth of Dallas jazz has been proclaimed at six-month intervals for the past five years. As the recent closing of Jason’s demonstrates, the renaissance is a minor one. Nevertheless, there is good jazz to be heard in town, and it’s nothing like what Chuck Mangione plays. There follows a list of clubs and players, indicative but not exhaustive.

Bagatelle. Bagatelle’s small, dark jazz lounge presents some very recommendable entertainment. Guitarist Chris DeRose and the interpretive vocalist Nancy Paris have played there, but Bagatelle’s most frequently heard voice belongs to Jeanne Maxwell. Jeanne is best at ballads, but versatile enough to give style and brightness to everything she does. She sings in a mellow piano-bar format on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when she’s backed by pianist Charley Prawdzik. The best nights to hear her are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, when she’s backed by WGM. Drinks aren’t cheap, but they’re well-mixed at this inevitably crowded club, and the all-ages crowd is generally well-dressed and sleek. The Bagatelle restaurant adjoins, so the place provides a classy alternative to tacky disco and burgers in bags.

Sun, Mon 7:30-11:30: Bob Ackerman & Pam Purvis.

Tues, Wed 8:30-12:30: Jeanne Maxwell & Charley Prawdzik.

Thurs, Fri, Sat 9:00-1:30: Paul Guerer-ro and WGM, with Jeanne Maxwell.

No cover, all major credit cards accepted. 4925 Greenville. 692-8224.

Ferguson’s Landing. Ferguson’s Landing has been around in one form or another since 1948, and it has usually maintained some visibility as a jazz spot. The eight-piece Dixie Kings from NTSU have been playing Sundays at the Landing, but the house band is R.B. & the Delta Stomp-ers. “R.B.” is really clarinetist Doc Curtis, and his drummer Leo Mendias played with Benny Goodman. The Stompers do some straight Dixieland, but many of their numbers are big-band dance tunes done with a Dixie flavor. Other Dixie combos around Dallas have a fresher, slicker sound; many of the Stompers’ performances are quite informal, with a lot of people sitting in.

There’s beer and wine but no mixed drinks, and under no circumstances should you eat the pizza. The crowd is mostly over 40.

Sat 9-1: Delta Stompers.

Sun 6:30-10: Dixie Kings.

Cover $1. No credit cards. 5818 Live Oak. 824-9343.

Greenville Bar & Grill. Most clubs that feature music are only as good as the band that’s playing. The Greenville Grill is a fun place to drink, eat, or congregate whether there’s a band playing or not. Beneath the high, pressed-tin ceiling of this venerable saloon gathers an eminently attractive and youthful clientele that reacts with great enthusiasm to Hal Baker and his aptly named Gloom Chasers, who offer exuberant New Orleans jazz on Thursday and Sunday nights. (Recently, Texas blues pianist Whistlin’ Alex Moore played some Grill engagements, as did the Brazilian band Sergio.)

There’s crab claws and Louisiana-style cooking on the menu, and the burgers are good. Service is pretty good, too, considering the crowds.

Thurs, Sun 9-12: Hal Baker and the Gloom Chasers.

No cover. Master Charge and Visa. 2821 Greenville. 823-6691.

NFL Club. Like a frat house basement, only instead of cliquish college kids the crowd is cliquish Oak Lawn ice-clinkers. The place isn’t bad if you’re with plenty of friends who share your sense of humor. The house band is the Jazz Couriers, and they take the NFL’s tiny stage to play some pretty solid big-band jazz on Saturdays from 9 till 2. (An Irish band plays some other nights.)

No credit cards. 3520 Oak Lawn, behind Lucas B&B Restaurant. 526-9444.

Recovery Room. The Recovery Room is the established nucleus of the Dallas jazz scene. No other jazz room sees more memorable jamming, and among those likely to show up on a given night are prominent local players such as Chuck Willis, Roger Boykin, Joe Beneshan, and ex-Ray Charles sideman James Clay. Celebrities who have stopped by to sit in include Buddy Rich and Sonny Stitt, and Dallas’s own piano legend Red Garland still occasionally drops in. Fathead Newman’s pianist, Claude Johnson, has gigged impressively there, and the annual “Bird Lives” celebration (commemorating the birthday of Charlie Parker) is legend.

Resident saxophonist Marchel Ivery is an exciting interpreter of bop and bluesy jazz. His music is durable and untouched by trend. How nice it is to hear pianist Thomas Reese and talented bassist Charles Scott accompanying Marchel on acoustic instruments, in a day when electricity seems to dominate jazz.

The people who hang around outside this bar look surly, but inside all’s hip and mellow. There’s no food; the bar serves a good, honest drink. All about are oil portraits of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane. This place looks the way a jazz club is supposed to look, and the music is appropriate.

Mon-Wed 9:30-1:30: Robert Sanders Trio.

Thurs-Sat 9:30-1:30: Marchel Ivery Quartet.

No cover. Carte Blanche. 4036 Cedar Springs. 526-1601.

Strictly Ta-Bu. A reliable spot for good music and food. The vibes are good both figuratively and literally, because of Ta-Bu’s pleasant Forties ambience and because talented vibraphonist Ed Hagan is still the resident jazz purveyor. His urban jazz has pleased Ta-Bu patrons for years, and his visibility increases as Dallasites continue to bring out-of-towners in to hear him.

Other Ta-Bu acts have included High Rise, the Houghton/Fisher big band, and the Steve Sonday Quartet. The schedule varies week by week. The juke box vies with the one at the Stoneleigh P for the hippest selection in Dallas.

Drinks are strong, and the imported beer selection is good. Service is not always quick, but it’s friendly. The pizza is overrated, but the burgers are exceptional.

Entertainment nightly 9:30-1:30.

Usually no cover. Master Charge and Visa. 4111 Lomo Alto, near Lemmon. 526-9325.

The Players

Hal Baker & The Gloom Chasers. A good Dixieland band which usually plays to re-ceptive crowds at the Greenville Bar & Grill.

Breeze. The name connotes the lightness of this tasteful band, which plays original material as well as standard jazz and pop. This band is sometimes too lightweight, and the listener might wish for more fire. By far the best solos come from the vibra-phonist.

Buster Brown. This five-man keyboard-oriented funk-jazz band offers some good singing and good playing, but overall it’s a rather bland aggregation.

Ed Hagan & Friends. Hagan’s upbeat, traditional jazz playing on vibraphone is an institution in Dallas. His smooth, yet often vehement, playing is a fixture at the Ta-Bu, and he works with exceptional guitarists such as Tom Perkins, Chris De-Rose, and Lee Robinson.

High Rise. This city’s most popular fusion band. Their playing is loud, intense, and occasionally dissonant, so avoid them if you’re seeking mellow jazz.

Marchel Ivery Quartet. Marchel’s big sax sound seems lifted intact from bop tradition, yet it is satisfyingly contemporary. This is real jazz, with no electric gimmickry and no nonsense. Ivery is ably backed by Walter Winn (drums), Thomas Reese (piano), and Charles Scott (bass).

Just Us. This talented and uncommonly diverse quintet plays a mixture of jazz, funk, and unabashed disco. It appears frequently at the Arandis (4611 Oakland at Hatcher).

Tommy Loy and the Upper Dallas Jazz Band. People who work in record stores know about this band because of all the customers asking for Dixieland “like Tommy Loy plays.” Loy’s authoritative trumpet playing is reminiscent of the work of Yank Lawson and Bobby Hack-ett. His band is a strong, professional outfit which has appeared at the Railhead and other establishments.

David “Fathead” Newman. Dallas’s most widely recorded jazz man, Newman has played Jason’s and the King’s Club, but he is usually too busy touring to play in his home town. The band he fronts when in town includes talented players like Claude Johnson (piano), Roger Boykin (guitar), and Cleveland Gaye (trombone).

Phyrework. A very strong funk organization. They’ve played at Popsicle Toes and other area nighteries, but if you can’t hear them live, check out their Mercury album.

Robert Sanders. This Recovery Room regular brings an uncommonly hard, Monk-like approach to much of his piano work. His organ playing at the King’s Club (with guitarist Byron Atkinson) was great, but his more recent work with this instrument was less satisfactory.

Bill Tillman & Moment’s Notice. Tillmanleft the lucrative rock band Blood, Sweat& Tears to play small-combo jazz inDallas, and he is one of the area’s besthorn men, formidable on alto, tenor, andflute. His is very honest jazz, and heworks well with the talented flugelhornistTony Klaatka.


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