Jazz Goes From The Saloon To The Salon
Review by Willard Manus

You can't kill jazz. Although such venerable Los Angeles clubs as Spazio and the Jazz Bakery have closed their doors in recent years, a half-dozen-odd local jazz-lovers with elegant homes have done their best to fill the void.

In a variation of the oldtime rent parties, many musicians and singers are now performing at private salons around the city. Betty Hoover, for example, holds monthly concerts in her Hollywood Hills home. For $45, a patron can enjoy three hours of music in a living-room setting--and get to mix and meet with the players over drinks and snacks.

At the salon I attended recently, a quartet headed by pianist Robert "Bobby" Floyd really tore the place up. Joined by guitarist Graham Deckter, drummer Steve Barnes and saxman Ricky Woodard, Floyd played mostly fast numbers (such as "Mercy, Mercy") which not only challenged his bandmates but inspired them to cook. Occasionally Floyd changed the pace by soloing in virtuosic fashion on ballads like "The Very Thought of You" and "24 Little Hours."

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David Anderson holds weekend jazz soirees from May to October in a garden behind his Mar Vista piano showroom. His "Atelier Series" features pianists such as Tamir Hendelman and Mike Melvoin in a sylvan setting enhanced by his wife's bronze sculptures and a sumptuous buffet.

Anderson loses money on these events but is hardly discouraged. "I've gotten business and my wife's landed lifetime collectors," he said. "We are now a non-profit foundation so we can schedule any artist we want. Past the expenses, any money we make goes to the Art and Music Support Network. It helps families and children struggling with homelessness." 310-457-5604 or davidandersenpianos.com

Another summer jazz salon is "Jazz in the Garden." Held Sunday afternoons in the garden of Yvette Coleman's elegant home, it offers fine jazz, food and wine--and valet parking to boot.

Coleman enhances her backyard performances with charming little touches--such as floral arrangements on every table. In addition to showcasing local and out-of-town talent, Coleman also hosts "Jazz Appreciation for Young Adults," an interactive workshop taught by jazz musicians. These workshops are free.

Dancing is encouraged at all "Jazz in the Garden" events. Coleman schedules three to four concerts between June and October. Location: View Park/Baldwin Hills. 323-296-0670 or yvcole@sbcglobal.net

Record-company owner/engineer George Klabin occasionally sponsors southern California's largest jazz salon operation. His "Rising Stars Jazz Foundation" not only spotlights deserving musicians such as Bill Cunliffe, Andreas Oberg and Marian Petruscu, but has helped his Resonance Records become a successful boutique label.

Klabin hosts many of the Foundation's concerts in his suburban home. "I'm in a residential area so I have to be respectful of my neighbors," he said. "There are logistical problems but the bottom line is that it's most gratifying to expose people to passionate, high-level artists. I have a commitment to that and it's essential that people who love jazz support these efforts."

Klabin also videotapes these soirees as a courtesy to the participating artists and/or as a marketing tool. Visit www.resonancerecords.org