When the city’s new listening room The Alluvion hosts its jazz night on Thursday, fans will be treated to a world-class performance, something that’s become a regular event in the region.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For the first time, Local Spins will co-host this week’s “Jazz 4 All Thursdays” show at The Alluvion in Traverse City, serving as a “pre-show” to Saturday’s big Iceman Cometh Challenge bike race that ends in T.C. Admission to the jazz show is an “honor cover” donation of $1-$20, with music starting at 6 p.m. Details here.
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For a community of about 16,000 people, even veteran jazz pianist Jeff Haas readily acknowledges there are “an inordinate number of very high quality jazz musicians” in Traverse City.
Acclaimed saxophonist Laurie Sears, who moved to northern Michigan from Chicago where she was an established jazz performer, calls it “a rich music scene” fueled by students and instructors at the nearby Interlochen Center for the Arts, active retired jazz virtuosos and “a lot of loyal, regular jazz fans.”
In short, Traverse City has emerged as a hotbed for jazz, at least on certain nights of the week and during the tourist-heavy summer season.
Take The Alluvion’s “Jazz 4 All” Thursday night series hosted by Haas and the Jeff Haas Trio featuring Jack Dryden and Randy Marsh. The shows draw a devoted cadre of fans and regularly features world-class musical guests along with Sears and watercolor artist Lisa Flahive.
This week’s 6 p.m. show (Thursday, Nov. 2) will feature multi-instrumentalist Rob Smith from Alma, along with a special appearance by Michigan’s Local Spins music website, which will sponsor giveaways as part of a “pre-show” for Saturday’s Iceman Cometh Challenge bike race that attracts thousands of riders and spectators to the region.
While Sears calls The Alluvion the city’s “newest and hottest jazz room,” Traverse City also boasts “Jazz Jam Wednesdays” year-round at The Workshop Brewing Co., with other area businesses also hosting jazz at different junctures: Traverse City Opera House, Chateau Chantal Winery, The Union in Northport, St. Ambrose Cellars, Old Mission Distillery, Mammoth Distilling, Nittolo’s, Dennos Museum Center, Pine Hill Garden Café, Seven Hills Winery and others, along with concerts at Interlochen.
Haas added that The Alluvion soon plans to announce a monthly 2024 jazz series at the 170-capacity listening room located on the second floor at 414 E. Eighth St.
A BEAUTIFUL SETTING, TOP-SHELF PLAYERS, LOYAL FANS
“It’s an incredibly beautiful area,” Sears said of the city’s attraction for jazz players. “It’s also the cultural center of northern Michigan for music, art and great restaurants. There is a wealth of retired musicians from positions all over the country that have relocated to this area and that are contributing to our rich music scene.”
Sears and her husband, Bill, a saxophonist and the retired director of jazz studies at Interlochen, perform together in the Sears and Sears Quintet, with Laurie Sears also playing regularly with Haas and the Traverse Symphony Jazz Orchestra.
They’re just part of the region’s fertile jazz landscape which also features much-respected musicians Bob James, Chris Glassman, Nancy Stagnitta, Ron Getz, Jack Dryden, Randy Marsh, Will Harris, David Chown, Steve Stargardt, Anthony Stanco, Joshua Wagner and many more in a list that goes on and on.
Haas insisted that many of the region’s jazz musicians “are among the best in the country” and there’s great potential for making it a “year-round thriving jazz scene.”
Matt McCalpin, a musician and The Alluvion’s director of operations, credited Haas – who’s long led various acoustic jazz groups and written compositions for the cities of Detroit and Traverse City – for pushing the genre forward over the years.
“Jeff Haas has worked hard to ensure jazz has a home and an audience in Traverse City,” he said. “Between his own music and bands, his Detroit roots and connections, and his support and education for younger musicians in the region, he has made things happen.
“This includes always having a weekly residency at various venues in town. Now, The Alluvion is a new home for these awesome jazz nights. Jeff has also brought in some super high-level regional, national and international acts to the venue.”
McCalpin added that the region’s jazz devotees “genuinely love the music,” with Haas describing it as a “small but passionate” fan base.
“There are a lot of loyal, regular jazz fans and friends from the area that come out weekly in support of the music,” Sears said. “Musicians here support each other and come out to hear each other’s groups, too.”
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