Chicago >Velvet Lounge
Near South Side joint owned by a local jazz legend with a passion for experimental music..
Despite its plush name and star power, tenor saxman and Chicago Jazz Festival fixture Fred Anderson's venue fills a different niche than glitzier Chicago jazz clubs--music aficionados and workaday professionals alike trek to this smoky, bare-bones Bronzeville bar for authentic free-form jazz. A stage up front and a small (but full) bar comprise the only real scenery.
Anderson acquired the Velvet Lounge in 1982 and evolved the club into a destination for inventive local and international jazz talents, who now play there five nights a week. Frequent performers include members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a group (co-founded by Anderson) of local black jazz artists determined to return the genre to the black community. The club's musical life started with rich Sunday night open mic jam sessions, which continue today.
Best of Jazz. The music is the draw here. On any night they are open you will find some of the greatest jazz talent in the world. The performances I have seen here over the years have been some of the most memorable. The weekend of Feb 7th 2003 I heard George Lewis a recipient of the Macarthur Genius Fellowship will play with some of his AACM members. The decor is the same as when they opened decades ago. On one of my first visits I had on a cute pastel outfit and scooted down one of the bench seats and my derrier was covered with dust. So know to wear dark colors and casual clothing and expect a good set.
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