RG–Great New Jazz Club in Venice, CA

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There’s a cool new jazz club on the Westside of LA, on Lincoln Blvd just a tad north of Washington.  It’s called the RG Club.   Usually to hear jazz one has to go to Catalina’s on McCadden in Hollywood,  or to the Jazz Bakery shows at the Musicians’ Institute, not far from Catalina’s.  I’m not in the AWOL (always west of Lincoln) club like some people I know, but ever since the Jazz Bakery in the Helm’s Bakery closed, it’s really nice to not have to drive across town to hear some good jazz.

It’s Brad Neal who we have to thank for the new venue.  He took over the Red Garter, an old Venice watering hole that I didn’t go to, and transformed it into a nice room.  There’s an outdoor space for people who want to talk–please don’t talk in the music room, I HATE that–or for the smokers.  Inside there is a nice grand piano, a good sound system, comfortable lighting, and some inventive cocktails.  Food will come later.

The best thing is the current residency of Azar Lawrence, a sax player who does Coltrane proud.  An amazing horn player whose improvisations wind and coil in serpentine patterns, abetted by a fine group of heavyweight jazz veterans:  Theo Saunders on piano, Henry “The Skipper” Franklin playing bass, and the great Alphonse Mouzon on drums.  They play Thurs-Sat.  Saxophonist Alfredo Rivera winds up the week on Sundays.

I visited the club a week ago and was blown away by Azar Lawrence.  I’ve known his work with Miles Davis–who loved his playing too—as well as from lp’s like Bridge into the New Age from Prestige 1974.  Azar is playing better than ever, and his commitment to keeping Trane’s legacy alive and well is strong.  The current group has musical telepathy and radar ears, and I loved it all.

So we not only have a fine new club on the Westside, but a world class jazz group in residency.  Who could ask for more?  And the cover is only $10.   And no drink minimum either.  This is a great place for jazz lovers and we should support it.