Downtown Phoenix jazz club the Nash resumes indoor concerts

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Live music is scheduled to return to the Nash on Saturday, June 5 with Dennis Rowland and Diana Lee.

This is the first live indoor concert at the Roosevelt Row Jazz Venue since the COVID-19 shutdown in March 2020 and the first of nine dates scheduled for June.

“It’s awesome,” said Joel Goldenthal, executive director of Nash. “We are very excited, very positive, looking forward to going.”

This excitement is shared by members of the jazz community as a whole.

“This reopening is greeted with tremendous enthusiasm in all areas,” said Goldenthal.

“There will be a strange person who will not be ready to go back to normal because of health issues etc. This is something you have to respect. But we are doing it as responsibly as possible.”

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Nash Health and Safety Protocols

For June, the Nash will cap capacity from 34 to 41, depending on party size, a plan the space had put in place before the CDC’s last review of its guidelines.

“I had already envisioned a 6-foot distance format,” Goldenthal explains.

“And we put Plexiglas screens between the singers and horn players and the audience. We have Plexiglas screens at our reception desk, our dealership counter and our audio booth. So I haven’t backed down.”

Masks and social distancing will be required at the entrance until the end of June.

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As for the month of July, it is too early to say if customers will be asked to dress up.

“One thing we have learned from all this experience,” Goldenthal says, “is that you can make any plans you want, but you have to be prepared to constantly adapt.”

Part of the problem, according to Goldenthal, is the lack of clear guidelines on how to proceed.

“The CDC has really gone non-political,” he says.

“I mean, imagine announcing that if you’ve been vaccinated you don’t need a mask, and if you haven’t, you do. Well, who’s controlling that? It’s unenforceable. , basically you have two choices. Go back to normal or be a strange man. “

New normal capacity for The Nash in July

The normal that the Nash will return to in July is what Goldenthal calls a “new normal ability.”

Before the pandemic, the room’s capacity had increased to 130, which was well within the capacity of the building’s fire code, but was perhaps a little too cramped for comfort on the way out. pandemic.

“We always talked about the privacy of the environment and the closeness and everything, but I just had a feeling it was going to be too tight,” Goldenthal said.

“So we brought out these four-tray tables that required people to rotate their seats. The center of the room now has 25 two-tray tables that all face the front. So it will be a much better experience for our people. customers in in terms of sight lines and not being crowded. You couldn’t move. “

The new capacity is 114.

“So we gave up some seats out of deference to provide a more comfortable experience for our constituents,” Goldenthal said. “And it’s just going to stay that way in the future.”

Another action taken by the Nash in the wake of the pandemic is to install three air cleaners in the site’s HVAC system.

“They kill 99.9% of any bacteria or viruses in the air,” Goldenthal explains. “We have also increased the fresh air mixture to 75% so as not to recirculate the stale air. So these are things that we have done that we are passionate about, and I think it will be very pleasant, same experience in direct less compromised than the one we had. “

How the Nash weathered the pandemic

The Nash did their best to schedule music during the pandemic.

“From day one, we created the Nash at Home,” said Goldenthal, referring to the venue’s efforts to make the performances available online.

“One More Time” was an archive concert series, broadcast on Facebook twice a week to keep donors and Nash voters connected.

“The people were very generous,” says Goldenthal. “We decided to make it a donation base. And we’ve had a lot of success with that.”

“Get Jazz Smart” is an ongoing virtual lecture series on Zoom, aimed at adults who want to learn more about jazz.

“Behind the Grooves” is an ongoing series of informal talks with fellow musicians from Phoenix native Lewis Nash, the famous drummer named Nash.

They even ended up adapting all their educational programs to a virtual experience.

“Which was very tricky, because the essence of jazz is musicians playing together, listening to each other and interacting, things that you can’t do on the Internet,” Goldenthal explains.

“It’s close enough for a reunion, but not for a musician where it can even be off by a few microseconds.”

Educators have managed to adapt, however. And the students learned new skills.

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“That positive side was these students who were now working at home and creating recordings that would eventually sync, they all became studio engineers,” Goldenthal said.

“So they developed skills that they probably never would have developed otherwise.”

Having said that, he adds, “Here we are 16 months later, and these kids still haven’t played together in the same room.”

A gradual return to normal

In October, the Nash resumed programming live jazz in Phoenix in person, launching an outdoor concert series, “Nash Under The Stars,” in the garden of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society.

“Everyone was so grateful to the point of crying that they could be back and enjoy this important part of their lives,” Goldenthal recalls of those first performances.

“For many musicians, this was the first time they had played with someone in months.”

They held nearly two months of outdoor concerts in October and November before responding to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We were monitoring the state’s numbers and had set metrics in consultation with a few health experts on our board,” Goldenthal said.

“As soon as we went into the red in two of the three benchmarks, we closed it.”

They brought the outdoor concert series down from April to May, keeping 6 feet apart between parties with a maximum capacity of around 80 people.

“The outdoor series was very successful,” says Goldenthal.

“Most of those shows were sold out. We also streamed the shows. We had one in particular, Ralna English, one of the stars of ‘The Lawrence Welk Show.’ We had about 150 people coming in. broadcast this show live. “

Why the June outdoor concerts have been moved indoors

A number of the Nash’s June dates were originally outdoor concerts slated for May, but once they knew they would reopen in June, they chose to reschedule four of those inside. of the Nash.

As Goldenthal explains the move, “The cost of doing shows outside was very high.”

Going forward, a full range of summer workshop programs are planned and they are working to bring back the jam sessions.

“If you had asked me two or three months ago, I would have told you that the jam session might not be happening until next year,” Goldenthal said.

“It’s the least controllable environment in terms of who’s on stage, who does what, but with the relaxed policies and some additional protocols in place, I think we’ll be bringing the jam session back to July as well, which is essential. for what we It will therefore be a major return to normalcy and the integrity of our mission. “

Goldenthal says he thinks people will really appreciate the changes at Nash.

“We did a lot to make it a more comfortable experience,” he says. “And we get upholstered chairs. So whoever complains about the seats, their prayers are answered.”

June concerts at the Nash

  • Dennis Rowland and Diana Lee – 7 p.m. Saturday June 5
  • Girls on the Road – 3 p.m. Sunday, June 6
  • Paul Combs Quartet: Jazz in the Movies – 7 p.m. Friday, June 11
  • Francine Reed – 7 p.m. Saturday June 12
  • Royce Murray Jazz Ensemble – 7 p.m. Friday June 18
  • The Glenn Davis Quintet – 7 p.m. Saturday, June 19
  • Father’s Day Matinee: Joel Robin & Sons with Tony Vaca – Sunday, June 20 at 3 p.m.
  • Chris Finet Quartet: The Music of Joe Henderson – 7 p.m. Friday, June 25
  • Bob Ravenscroft Trio: Bill Evans & Beyond – 7 p.m. Saturday June 26

Details: The Nash is located at 110 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix. 602-795-0464, thenash.org.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. Follow him on twitter @EdMasley.

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