Jazz Music in Boston | BU today

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Explore the Boston Jazz Scene

In the video above, Jake D’Ambra gives us a tour of some of his favorite jazz clubs in Boston. Photo by Jake Belcher

Rhode Island native Jake D’Ambra (Questrom’19) arrived at the BU three years ago had one ambition: to play the saxophone at Wally’s Café, the historic South End jazz club opened over 70 years ago. . Wally’s is a fixture among student jazz musicians in Boston, who regularly fill the small bar to sit down during the open night jam sessions, which can be intimidating. “The first time I played at Wally’s I was so scared,” D’Ambra says. “My hands were shaking, but I had a blast.”

Now, the junior business major regularly hosts Wally’s set at 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

A jazz musician since eighth grade, D’Ambra knew he wanted to explore the local music scene during his time at BU. Boston has a rich jazz heritage and continues to attract aspiring musicians from all over the world who come to study in the many local conservatory programs. He regularly gives concerts with music students from the Berklee College of Music, the New England Conservatory and the Longy School of Music, to name a few.

Recognizing that not everyone his age is a fan of jazz, D’Ambra says it’s something you have to experience in person to truly appreciate. Embracing the role of advocate for the music he loves, he regularly trains his Questrom friends to jazz clubs around town. Some of them even learned to love it.

To help you explore Boston’s jazz scene, D’Ambra suggests:

Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen
604 Columbus Avenue, Boston

A five-minute walk from the Huntington Ave stop on the BU (BUS) shuttle brings you to Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen, which features upscale Southern cuisine, live jazz and a lively bar scene since it opened in 2010. The Darryl features live music Wednesday through Sunday in a variety of genres including jazz, funk, R&B, soul and world music.

D’Ambra recommends: Go to Darryl for jazz, but stay for a meal. “The food is amazing. It is like food for the soul. Perfectly suited to the ambience of the place.

In your ear recordings
957 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston

No Boston music experience would be complete without a trip to a major record store to rummage through old vinyl records. Although it’s in the heart of the West Campus, In Your Ear can be hard to find (it’s down a flight of stairs, under a Bank of America kiosk), but it’s worth looking for. . In business for 35+ years, the store offers a breathtaking selection, from vinyl records and CDs to 8 tracks, tapes and VHS tapes.

D’Ambra recommends: For those new to jazz and interested in exploring the genre, listen to Dexter Gordon and Charles Lloyd, both tenor saxophonists (like D’Ambra). He has a soft spot for Lloyd: “I would have liked to hear Lloyd when I was younger. Many of his songs are easy to listen to and prepare you for different types of jazz.

Wally’s Café Jazz Club
427 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston

Founded in 1947 by Barbadian immigrant Joseph Walcott (better known as Wally), Wally’s was one of the first black-owned nightclubs in New England, and today it is still owned and operated. by the descendants of Walcott. It has long been a favorite haunt for aspiring jazz musicians drawn to the club’s open jam sessions, where they can sit down with the house band and show off what they have. Wally’s offers live music 365 days a year, with a mix of traditional jazz, funk, Latin and blues. Wally’s is 21 and up after 9 p.m., so check out the first show if you’re under 21.

D’Ambra recommends: “Be prepared to expect anything. Music is changing all the time. You won’t hear better jazz. Oh, and you might want to think about getting there early, he says, “The later you go, the bigger the crowd. “


D’Ambra’s first exposure to jazz came through hip-hop artists like Nas and MF DOOM, who sampled jazz recordings and mixed them to their rhythms. D’Ambra eventually researched the original jazz recordings they had sampled and focused on listening to jazz. Below is a hip-hop and jazz playlist that chronicles his exploration of both.

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