Sam Pinn, the executive director and Chairman of the Board at Jazz 966, speaks of its origins: The club really started back when me and my colleague would go to clubs in the city and spend over $100 for one night out. We thought, hey we could do this for a much better price and 18 years later we are still here.
The low-lit room of the club, which offers live jazz music every Friday night for a minimal cover charge and food or drink minimum, brings off an immediate feeling of comfort and warmth. The stage design is simple, backed by a sign proclaiming the club's Friday night gig and, during the performance, it is illuminated by a misty orange light. The walls surrounding are adorned with various posters, making a simple walk around the room an introspective look into jazz history. The room is large and there are plenty of tables to fit in as many people as possible. You might want to get there early, however, as it does seem to fill to the brim with numerous large parties.
The overall experience is very homely. The food is cheap and the servings are good, and the drinks--while non-alcoholic--are low-priced as well. The club seeks to create an environment where people can feel comfortable and therefore allows anyone to bring whatever food or drink they wish with them.
Throughout the years, many well known names have graced the club, including Wynton Marsalis, Bob Cunningham and Lou Donaldson--in fact the latter two are due to perform in the next two months. A look at the schedule will reveal this club is more than just jazz with performances including hiphop and even some traditional African music. Bring your dancing shoes as well; the club not only allows, but encourages, dancing, a rarity in most clubs these days.
The most incredible aspect of Jazz 966, however, is how much those at the club care about jazz music and it is evident in every moment of the performance, from the appreciation of the audience to the service given by those at the club. A deep consideration for the history of the music is put into every piece and as a listener you feel like you are a part of something more than just another gig. Pinn comments, We try to be a place that keeps the music alive.
Incidently, Jazz 966 is a charter member of the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium (CBJC), which is a non-profit organization committed to preserving, promoting and supporting jazz music, musicians and programs. They are also the organization putting on the 9th Annual Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival, which will take place through May 2nd and feature performances all over Brooklyn, including Jazz 966.
Bob Myers, the Communications Director for CBJC (and former proprietor of the now-defunct Up Over Jazz Café) had this to say about the organization, Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium founded in 1999 is an amalgam of jazz musicians, entertainment venues, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations and patrons of the music. Over the past eight years, they have presented an annual spring festival, established a Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame and produced yearly programs of events and activities that feature local jazz musical talents.
Jazz 966 encompasses this philosophy and more. Its staff and atmosphere are all just a part of the bigger picture, preserving a music that has done just as much for Brooklyn as Brooklyn has done for it. It is well worth the trip to be a part of an organization that is doing so much to keep jazz alive today.