Get funky with live jazz music at Medici
Field Notes explores the vast and diverse scenes and subcultures of Honolulu. This month: Medici at Mānoa market.
Rocky Brown sings with DeShannon Higa and Quadpod.
Photos: Aaron Yoshino
Since the closure of Ward’s Rafters, members of the local Honolulu jazz scene have been looking for a place that comes close to its non-commercial feel, elegant setting, and warm, community embrace. Since 2012, many believe they have found him at Medici’s, an eagle’s nest atop the Mānoa School of Art and Music, where school founders Carolyn Espina Stanton and Tim Stanton hold performances on Fridays. and on Saturday. Cool jazz, hot jazz, blues, funky fusion, torchlight singers, piano-bass-drums trios — Medici’s welcomes them all. Tim, 69, a native of London and art teacher, designed and built the two-level space, while Farrington and the University of Hawaii, piano producer, Carolyn, 60, the teacher principal of the school, orchestrates the acts.
First-time visitors usually can’t believe their luck: the great hall has excellent acoustics (which musicians appreciate); comfortable seating, including a lounge area where you can take five of the action; reasonable coverage ($ 20, except for special acts); affordable drinks and a $ 5 corkage fee if you bring your own; a famous spread (an elegant and healthy range of salads, antipasti and desserts for $ 15); and plenty of free parking lots – the latest hosannas of music lovers, especially those who remember circling Ward’s for a spot and sometimes being towed away.
Who is coming
Every seat was taken on the night DeShannon Higa and Quadpod played with Rocky Brown, and the crowd of just over 100 ranged from a family with kids to students at school. But the core audience matched the profile of Honolulu’s well-dressed arts support class (no shorts or baseball caps). Notably, and unlike the clubs in Waikīkī, they kept their voices low and did not speak at all during performances except for a few whispers.
Tim and Carolyn Stanton, the brains of Medici.
“Tommy James, a world-class pianist with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, has moved to Hawai’i and now performs regularly,” said Carolyn Stanton. “We have bands like Gypsy 808, Von Baron, and Honolulu Jazz Quartet; Sandi Tsukiyama brings a group and sings the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Touring musicians come to listen and join us; luminaries of the musical world of Honolulu, like Jimmy Borges and Betty Lou Taylor, feel right at home. “It’s like a New York club, where the audience really listens,” says Quadpod bassist John Kolivas, 54, also conductor of the Honolulu Jazz Quartet. “Musicians end up playing at a higher level and the audience is part of it. “
“It’s a supper club,” says Anton Krucky, “only there is no distraction from toasting glasses and people talking. Led by Higa on brass, the coldly syncopated trio of Rod Esteban (drums), Ethan Capone (piano) and Kolivas backed up a swaying Rocky Brown as she bit down the notes with sparkling diamond authority. In the raised loft, guests helped themselves to the wonderful array of salads and mingled at the bar. Regulars uncorked their white and red BYOB burgundy and offered tastes.
DeShannon Higa, 45, conductor and Rocky Brown, 50, singer
“We met when I was playing in a swing band,” says Higa. “She came down to dance. We have been married for 15 years.
Anton Krucky, 62, President and CEO, Tissue Genesis
“We came to see Rocky Brown and DeShannon. We saw Rocky at various events, at the Diamond Head Theater. She’ll never tell you herself, but she’s been on Broadway, in shows, has done it Miss Saigon. “
“We all met because of jazz.” –Yolande Kerr (to the right).
“And wine.” –Rebecca woodland (to the left).
With John knorek (far left) and Chuck crumpton: “Jazz and wine.”
Did you know? In addition to performances, the Mānoa Art and Music School offers art, theater, tango, milonga (a dance similar to tango), and culinary arts classes.
Medici’s, Mānoa Marketplace 2754 Woodlawn Drive, Unit 7-103, 351-0901, honolulumusicatmedicis.com