It kind of crept up on me but tomorrow marks 3 years since the Cellar closed. SO much has happened in the last three years and in some ways it seems like it’s been 10 years and in other ways I can put myself right back there and it seems like yesterday.
The question I get the most is “do you miss it?” This question is always answered very quickly with a “not even a little bit.” I suppose that statement isn’t entirely true. I have to say that I’m now in a much better place. Frankie’s has been absolutely wonderful and it has allowed me to do everything I want to do without all of the stress. I work with an incredible team at Coastal Jazz & Blues and I get to spend way more quality time with my family. I wouldn’t trade any of these things. Having said that though, nothing will ever replicate what The Cellar was and I sometimes find myself missing the incredible intimacy that The Cellar provided. I do think of that and what an incredible room that was to listen to music.
I was a reminiscing a lot today and while doing so I put on a couple of records. The first one: UGETSU Live @ The Cellar (Brad Turner – trumpet, Rod Murray – trombone, Jon Bentley – tenor sax, Ross Taggart – piano, André Lachance – bass and Bernie Arai – drums) that was recorded live over two nights at the club. Such a wonderful record. I remember being there that weekend and what an awesome crowd it was. The place was jammed and the band was really sounding good. I remember thinking to myself that it couldn’t get any better on any level. Everyone was so excited and having a great time from the staff to the audience to the musicians. It was one of those many magical nights.
I also put on The Jodi Proznick Quartet – Foundations (Tilden Webb – piano, Jodi Proznick – bass, Steve Kaldestad – tenor sax and Jesse Cahill – drums) which still stands out as one of the top 3 best records on the label. Although it wasn’t recorded live it represents all of the great stuff that was happening at the club and because of the club. This one was extra cool because Shawn Pierce was the engineer and this is some of his best work without question. Sonically it is unmatched. Also kind of cool because Steve Mynett did the design for this project. It was his first design project and he absolutely knocked it out of the park. This is one of those records where everything came together so perfectly.
The two aforementioned records represent something special that was going on at The Cellar. It’s really cool.
Another of the many great things that happened at the club were the many people that documented the events by way of photography. Brian Nation, Ian Moar, Bob Syme in the early days and then later on Steve Mynett, Jesse Cahill and Vincent Lim. They all captured so many of the incredible moments. I have shared a few below:
(Above) Here is Steve Mynett and I on the last night three years ago. Beside that is Ross Taggart and I with Bill Coon, Peter Washington and Lewis Nash. This gig was bitter sweet. The first night something was wrong with Ross, he wasn’t himself and although he played okay, something was clearly wrong. The second night was awesome, I mean really awesome and we thought nothing of the first night. Of course, we then found out he wasn’t well and that time period was when it was all starting. I owe so much to Ross for so many things. When I bought the club in 1999 Ross was the first guy I told! Miss you Roscoe!
I had the great pleasure of presenting Louis Hayes & The Cannonball Adderley Band for four nights over my 40th birthday. It resulted in a recording that would hit #1 on the Jazz Week Charts. The other special thing about that weekend was my wife organized a little surprise party on the last night of the run. Greatest present ever that Louis Hayes, Dezron Douglas, Rick Germanson, Jeremy Pelt and Vince Herring were at my birthday party!
Also, one of my biggest thrills was having George Coleman out the second time. He has become a dear friend and he came to honor Ross which made it even more special. Big G is amazing!
10 year anniversary with One For All the resulted in INVADES VANCOUVER on Cellar Live. 4 days I will never forget and also 4 days that I think took about 5 years at least off my life. Love those guys so much and the music was unbelievable. Beside that picture is well…Jim Rotondi behind the bar. I clearly was not there as I would never let him behind the bar 🙂 had many great times with Jimbo!
And finally, what can I say about Jenny? Dear Jenny. She is one of a kind and would’ve been a ‘lifer’ if I hadn’t of closed the place. She has gone on to so many wonderful things but she was without question the most wonderful and most dedicated employee I had in 15 years. She really is one of the most fantastic people ever!
Below is the email I sent out in November of 2013;
It is with great sadness that I report as of February 25th, 2014 Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club will cease operations at 3611 West Broadway.
This decision has been the hardest that I have had to make in my life. Several factors contributed to the decision such as our inability to sign what we thought was a fair lease that would ensure our long term viability at this location, the flooding problem that has plagued us for the better part of four years every time it rains and the restaurant industry as a whole. It has been a challenge for me for 13 years but after a particularly difficult past few months it was becoming abundantly clear that as long as we carried on as we were, we would have trouble prospering.
I have spent over a third of my life presenting music in this city and although this current incarnation of the club will be a closed chapter, I am committed to coming back bigger and better some time in the future. After taking some time to breathe, spending time with my family and reflecting on the past 13 years I will start looking at what’s out there for a full time return of Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club. In the meantime I will be promoting a handful of concerts under the Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club banner over the next 4 months. Information on those concerts will be posted at www.cellarjazz.com over the next several weeks.
I hope you can understand how hard it is for me to send an email like this to musicians, in essence cancelling gigs for some of you. After spending weeks agonizing over how to do this the right way, I realized that there is no right way and that in the end I need to do what’s right for myself and my family. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause to you and your touring plans.
You can visit MY BLOG for the official press release that will be available on Sunday morning.
Cellar Live will operate as normal for this year and into the future with many great releases upcoming and many more to be recorded over the next year. New York With Weeds will continue as planned and promises to be the best one yet (we still have a about 10 spots left). The closure of The Cellar has no effect on those two entities.
It’s also important to know that nothing will change leading up to our closure. We will continue to strive for the highest quality in every aspect of our operation and we have tons of great stuff planned leading up to February 25th.
I can’t thank the local musicians enough for their continuous support over the past 13 years. I’m so proud to be a part of what I think is one of the greatest musical communities on the planet and without your support and talent The Cellar would never have become what it did. I was literally learning on the fly and you stood by me, criticized me when necessary and applauded me when appropriate. I owe you a lot for your patience and understanding. It is so humbling to know the level of trust and faith you put in me. I can’t thank you enough.
There was always a lot of hoopla made about the international stars that came to The Cellar but without a strong local jazz community you cannot have a ‘real’ jazz club. It is YOU who have made The Cellar what it is.
To my New York and international musician friends, thank you for travelling across the country on a regular basis to play my humble club. I have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with many of you and in many cases those are highlights of my career that won’t ever be forgotten. You always brought an extra little edge to the bandstand that created an electric vibe at the club and I learned to thrive off that great energy. Many of you made appearances at the club for less money than you would normally charge because you knew or had heard what kind of vibe we created at The Cellar. I can truly say that every box is ticked off on my ‘jazz club bucket list.’
It’s been a wild ride and although I’m filled with sadness and some fear, I am looking forward to this next phase of my life, whatever that phase is and wherever it takes me. One thing I know for sure is that my passion for this music will never ever die and whatever happens I will continue to be a ‘jazz warrior.’
I sent out the email to my international musician friends first followed by local musicians later in the evening.
The very FIRST email I got in response was from none other than Christian McBride: