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Ladies and Gentlemen, Meet the Loft Society

 

When I started this blog eight months, along with writing about big events I hoped to shed some light on some of the well-kept secrets in Cincinnati, and today’s blog entry is an opportunity to do just that. This Saturday, October 20 at 8:00 pm the drummer William Hooker will perform duets with Ed Ricart on guitar at the Loft Society, a jazz performance space at 119 Calhoun Street in Corryville. Expect music that’s avant-garde and edgy. And while the music the duet performs may be labeled jazz, I have a hunch that this would be of interest to people who like experimental music—be it rock, classical or completely unclassifiable—period.

Although the performance space called the Loft Society has been around for over 20 years, many people don’t know about this nonprofit organization, including jazz lovers who, when you tell them about a past performance, their reaction is, “You’re kidding! I missed that?” As performance spaces go, it couldn’t be more informal: the shows take place in a large and very colorful room in an apartment, but that room is steeped in history. Barry Altschul, Billy Band, John Hicks, Gebhard Uhlmann, Gary Bartz, Nicole Mitchell, William Parker and Hamid Drake are just a few of the names that have appeared there. These are internationally-known artists from around the world who, the week before, may have played to crowds of thousands in Europe (or Chicago or New York), and then suddenly find themselves in a space where folks may have squeezed more than fifty audience members into that room—but believe me, it was tight. Yet repeatedly when you talk to the musicians who inevitably end up mingling with the crowd,  you find out they love it, in part because it carries with it a strong sense of nostalgia.

“I was one of those kids in the 1970s who grew up on the New York loft scene,” trombonist Steve Swell told me. “When I was first aware of Cincinnati’s own version of that legendary scene, I was a bit apprehensive, but glad there was someone presenting our kind of music.”

“That’s probably my favorite place to play anywhere,” trumpeter Rob Mazurek said. Rob is one of many musicians from Chicago who have played the Loft Society, including many who have recorded for the Delmark label and are members of AACM.

Basically, then, the Loft Society provides great music in an intimate setting, with an atmosphere which, regardless of whether you’ve caught music at a New York City loft, will make it easy to imagine. “I can’t believe I’m in Cincinnati,” is a comment you hear a lot as people experience a concert at the Loft Society. A donation is requested at the door in order to help fund the event, which includes great home-cooked food between sets. Call 513.559.9220 with questions.

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