Except during the swing era, jazz has almost always had to play the survivor’s game. The seminal American art form migrates, like small, hungry herds of mammalian musical genius – and, of course, at least one genius “Bird” — incessantly wandering urban savannahs for watering amenable holes that usually lubricate patrons with at least coffee drinks as they dig the sounds.
Milwaukee’s no different. Accordingly, three self-consciously hip neighborhoods in this city have sustained the music to varying degrees, along with a smattering of venues in the near-north side Harambee and Bronzeville neighborhoods.
However, the East Side’s long-standing Jazz Estate has largely abdicated it’s nominal attraction, leaving that neighborhood a relatively arid region for live jazz — ironically given the Estate new identity as “specialty drink bar.”
The most conspicuous jazzy neighborhood, in terms of an organized presence, has been the southside’s Bay View which annually hosts the large, one-day Bay View Jazz Festival. This successful endeavor is built along the festival’s backbone, Kinnickinnick Avenue, a promenade of quirky and fascinating storefronts, galleries, bars and music spaces.
Now, the third hip neighborhood, Riverwest, is trumpeting its “look-at-me” moment. Three music venues on Center Street are teaming up for the first Riverwest Jazz Fest, this Friday night at The Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts, Bar Centro, and Company Brewing.
The fest lineup (below) is colorfully diverse and headlined by two-time Grammy-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch. Another notable act is the fast-rising band Heirloom.
The venue with the most auspicious history is the Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts, located in the same space originally occupied by the Milwaukee Jazz Gallery which presented “a dazzling lineup of many of the most significant musicians in jazz history,” notes one of the fest’s organizers, trumpeter-bandleader-recording artist Jamie Breiwick. “With great respect for these pioneers of jazz, contemporary jazz isn’t an art form that recycles the past, but a dynamic evolving collaboration of inventive musicians that mirrors the present while creating the new future.” He invites patrons to “be a part of this new future with the first ever Riverwest Jazz Fest.”
The new fulcrum among the three venues that’s now offering jazz most consistently is the stylishly intimate Bar Centro, located kitty corner from the larger Company Brewing space.
All three venues are on Center Street within a couple blocks of each other, so there’s no excuse to not make the rounds, and support all three. The festival is free admission, but donations will be welcome as will be offerings to tip jars for the performing groups.
Here’s the Riverwest Jazz Fest lineup:
5:30 PM – New Orleans-style March with the Big Style Brass Band from Jazz Gallery to Company Brewing
Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts (926 E Center St)
6 PM – Jazz Flux
8 PM – The Erotic Adventures of the Static Chicken
Bar Centro (804 E Center St)
6 PM – Heirloom
8 PM – Tael Estremera Quartet
Company Brewing (735 E Center St)
9:30 PM – Eric Jacobson Quartet
11 PM – Brian Lynch Quartet
This article was originally published in The Shepherd Express, here: https://shepherdexpress.com/music/local-music/trumpeting-riverwests-jazz-fest/