Smoke Jazz Club adds Houston Person, Willie Jones III and more to its October concert schedule

One of New York’s premier live music venues, the Smoke Jazz Club presents a stellar lineup of legendary jazz artists and emerging voices during the month of October. Acclaimed for its essential music programming and inspired setting, the Smoke Jazz Club recently reopened to great fanfare after being closed to live entertainment and indoor dining for more than two years. This revered institution has embarked on an impressive expansion and renovation that is cementing its place as a world-renowned destination for the best in classical and modern jazz.

October begins with a highly anticipated four-night run led by Guggenheim Fellow Elio Villafranca to celebrate his latest album Artist Share Standing at the Crossroads (September 29-October 2). Smoke welcomes some of today’s best players to help pay tribute to two jazz geniuses: Bria Skonberg and benny green(among others) debut in Smoke to celebrate Dizzy Gillespie (October 14-16) followed by an all-star quartet of Joe Lovano, Kevin Hays, Ben Street and Al Foster paying tribute to Thelonious Monk (October 20-23). The bi-weekly Wednesday Night Singers Showcase continues with Cynthia Scott (October 5) and Amina Figarova (October 19). Please scroll down for full schedule or visit When: every Wednesday-Sunday at 7 p.m. + 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
(Friday and Saturday only). Doors open at 5:00 p.m.

Where: SMOKE, 2751 Broadway (between 105/106th Streets),
New York, NY, Train: 1 to 103rd Street.

Tickets: $25 to $60 in person. Live stream $15. For more information and
to make reservations, please visit

OCTOBER 2022 @ SMOKE (subject to change):

Thu-Sun Sept 29-Oct 2 Elio Villafranca & The Jass Syncopators cd release
Elio Villafranca – piano
Steve Wilson – alto and soprano saxophone
Vincent Herring – tenor saxophone and flute
Alex Norris – trumpet
Edward Perez – bass
Dion Parson – drums
Mauricio Herrera – percussion

Smoke is delighted to welcome back Cuban jazz pianist and composer Elio Villafranca to celebrate the release of his latest album Standing at the Crossroads. This recording speaks of his own life experiences as an artist, growing up in the small town of San Luis, Pinar del Rio, surrounded by Congolese drummers, trained in Russian classical music, while falling in love with jazz. Elio Villafranca leads his exciting band the Jazz Syncopators. Villafranca is a spellbinding pianist who has recorded and performed with masters such as Pat Martino, Terell Stafford, Billy Hart, Paquito D’Rivera, Eric AlexanderLewis Nash, David Murrayand Wynton Marsalis. He brings an original musical perspective and is at the forefront of an exciting new generation of musicians. Downbeat states, “Villafranca has become a dominant presence on the jazz scene, not just in the United States but around the world.” The Jass Syncopators highlight the significant influence of the Caribbean region, particularly Cuba, on jazz music since its beginnings in New Orleans.

Wed 5 Oct Cynthia Scott
Cynthia Scott – voice
To be determined – saxophone
To be determined – piano
TBD – low
TBD – Battery

Cynthia Scott is a singer who skillfully combines the swing of jazz, the soul of blues, the vibe of R&B and the sacred emotions of gospel music. The Chicago Tribune called her a “fascinating singer”. She has performed and charmed audiences from New York to Africa, from Europe to Asia; and with an impressive cast of musicians including Wynton Marsalis and Ray Charles – who “discovered” it.

Thu-Sun Oct 6-9 Cyrus Chestnut Quartet
Cyrus Chestnut -piano
Freddie Hendrix – trumpet
TBD – low
Willie Jones III – drums

Cyrus Chestnutone of the great jazz pianists, leads an enriching quartet with the trumpeter Freddie Hendrix and drummer Willie Jones III. Inspired by gospel music throughout his life, Cyrus drew on a range of musical influences without ever straying too far from the blues which, according to the New York Daily News, made him “the rightful heir to Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Erroll Garner.”

Wed October 12 Willie Jones III Quintet
Joe Magnarelli – trumpet
Justin Robinson – alto saxophone
James Austin – piano
David “Happy” Williams – bass
Willie Jones III – drums

Willie Jones III, one of modern jazz’s most dynamic drummers, is also an important bandleader who leads bands with undeniable chemistry. Willie has worked with an impressive list of artists including Roy Hargrove, Arturo Sandovaland hank jones and is a noted record producer and label owner who has released several critically acclaimed albums as a frontman. The New York Times states: “He comes from a line of drummers established by Kenny Clark, then modified by Philly Joe Jones; he’s more than comfortable with polyrhythm, but it’s the simple swing that suits him best.” His inspiring quintet includes the trumpeter Joe Magnarellialto saxophonist Justin Robinson, pianist James Austin and bassist David “Happy” Williams.

Fri-Sun October 14-16 Bird & Diz: Dizzy Gillespie Party
Bria Skonberg – trumpet
Vincent Herring – alto saxophone
benny green -piano
Yasushi Nakamura – bass
Kenny Washington – drums

A group of stars gathers to play the music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. This highly anticipated celebration of the music of John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie and Charlie “Bird” Parker brings together some of the most acclaimed artists of our time and is Smoke’s debut album for two of them: the trumpeter Bria Skonberg and pianist Benny Green. Gillespie, the great trumpeter, bandleader and innovator of bebop, would have turned 105 on October 21. Trumpeter Skonberg is “on the way to being one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation”, writes the Wall Street Journal. She teams up with alto saxophonist Vincent Herring whom the New York City Jazz Record “has firmly established himself as one of the masters of his generation”. Their rhythm section is no less impressive with bassist Yasushi Nakamura, drummer Kenny Washington, and pianist Green whom NPR has hailed as “a curator of the bebop idiom and a cheerful guardian of its lexicon.”

Wed 19 Oct Amina Figarova Sextet
Amina Figarova -piano
Wayne Escoffery – tenor saxophone
Alex Pope Norris – trumpet
Bart Platteau – flutes
Yasushi Nakamura – bass
Rudy Royston – drums

Pianist and composer Amina Figarova conducts his superb sextet. Her deeply personal and highly evocative responses to social unrest, the distinctive personalities she encountered, and universal life transitions inform this music. The Jazz Police reports: “This is a band that has built its reputation on playing original repertoire, each musician a powerful soloist in their own right; yet it is their characteristic interaction that moves the Amina Figarova Sextet above and beyond the vast majority of the great chamber ensembles of modern jazz and places the pianist among the highest echelons of composers/conductors….”

Thr-Sun Oct 20-23 Monk’s Music: Lovano, Hays, Street and Foster
Joe Lovano – tenor saxophone
Kevin Hays – piano
Ben Street – bass
Al Foster – drums

An all-star quartet of Joe Lovano, Kevin Hays, Ben Street and Al Foster revisit the music of Thelonious Sphere Monk, one of modern music’s great geniuses and innovators, on his October 10th. Joe Lovano is “one of the great connectors in the history of New York jazz in recent generations” (The New York Times) finds drummer Al Foster “a special not-so-secret groove ingredient that drives performances and sessions by a long list of heavyweights.” (Jazz Times) The quartet is rounded out by outstanding musical partners Kevin Hays on piano and Ben Street on bass.

Wed 26 Oct Cynthia Scott with Nobody from Houston
Cynthia Scott – voice
Nobody from Houston – tenor saxophone
Jeb Patton – piano
TBD – low
Willie Jones III – drums

Cynthia Scotta soulful Grammy-nominated singer leads a rousing quintet with the legendary tenor saxophonist Nobody from Houston. Scott worked with Ray Charles as Raelette before launching her successful solo career and later performing with Hank Crawford, David “Fathead” Newman, Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr. and many others. JazzTimes says Scott mixes “the nervous grit of Gladys Knight and the sophisticated sassiness of Shirley Horn “with” nods to idols such as Carmen, Ella, Sarah and Dinah. The Chicago Tribune called her a “spellbinding singer”. Nobody from Houston is the very special guest of this quintet and All About Jazz says, “Whatever imponderable talent it takes to stay at the top of his game for nearly six decades, as Person has, he always has. in abundance.

Thu-Sun Oct 27-30 Russell Malone Quartet
Russell Malone – guitar
Rick Germanson – piano
Vincent Dupont – bass
Neal Smith – drums

guitar master Russell Malone leads his exceptional and beloved quartet with pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Vincent Dupont and drummer Neal Smith. Malone is a musician with deep roots in blues and bebop and his soul swing approach is just one of the many reasons he is so popular. Chicago Tribune states, “Although he spikes his solos with occasional running lines, it’s gently rolling chords and lush sequences of harmonies that ultimately define his work”, and Jazz Times describes him as “a performer of ballads unusually sensitive.

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