After a two-year-long closure caused by the pandemic, the iconic Smoke Jazz Club on the Upper West Side at at 2751 Broadway by 106th Street is officially re-opening this July—and the beloved venue is looking slightly different (in a good way!).
Husband and wife co-owners Paul Stache and Molly Sparrow Johnson have, in fact, taken on two adjacent storefronts (a decision that was made pre-pandemic) in order to expand the jazz club, which is now home to an attached lounge as well. The instantly recognizable full-length bar that patrons were used to saddling up to in the original iteration of the venue is now found in the new lounge. The additional space also allows for a larger stage.
"Smoke Jazz Club has so much history," the co-owners said in an official statement about the re-opening. "Despite the struggles of the last few years, we just knew that the music couldn’t stop here. The past couple of years have not been easy for anyone, but having live music back in the club with everyone together, musicians and listeners, seems like a turning point. We are very excited to take this next step."
Given that the club first opened on April 9, 1999, the owners are no strangers to the sorts of disasters that deeply affect a business. Some may even argue that their ability to surviving the 9/11 attacks, various economic crashes, fires and more has contributed to the way they have handled the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abiding by the new laws of the land, Stache and Johnson in fact pivoted their original business model—for a time no longer reliant on in-person jazz sessions—to include a streaming concert series, sidewalk shows, outdoor dining and more.
Come July 21, though, things are sort of going back to normal with a grand reopening celebration featuring the George Coleman Quartet and special guest Peter Bernstein. The upcoming lineup also features the Heavy Hitters, the Eddie Henderson Quintet, Mary Stallings and more.
You can check up the summer schedule and buy tickets for each session right here.
As exciting as any local music-related venture is, there is something about a jazz club that first opened in the late '90s and has hosted the likes of Chris Potter, Eric Alexander, Jimmy Cobb and Brad Mehldau throughout the years that deserves a special kind of respect—especially after the few years we've all been through and the sorts of experiences we've had to temporarily give up on until now.
Go on, New Yorkers, and enjoy some live music in a historical setting.