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York
Jazzy Bargain Basements In York And Scarborough
Andrew Liddle, Features Writer
If your ideas of a jazz club is something small and intimate, funky, smoky even with smoking banned, then you’re probably most likely to find these qualities lurking about in a cellar bar – like The Cask, Scarborough or The Basement in York, two contrasting venues.

Truly, there is something unusually evocative of the deep and soulful spirit of jazz when it's performed in a basement. A low ceiling always seems to intensify the atmosphere, improve the acoustics even. Cellar beams and pillars are most welcome. So are brick arches. They all add to the vibe, somehow. It feels more like a cool dive if you have to go down steps to it, putting you more in touch with the underground, as it were.

Of course in this Age of Rock such bars are not as easy to find as they once were - unless you live in Paris, perhaps, where there are lots. If in the city of love, you should probably look no further than Le Caveau de la Huchette, in the Latin Quarter, which American expatriate greats like Sidney Bechet, Claude Luter and Bill Coleman made their home from home. It remains pretty much unchanged in character from the 1940s and you can bop the night away in an atmosphere redolent of the Cotton Club.

Speaking of New York try 55 Bar, the cellar dive in Greenwich Village to end all cellar dives. The walls are as nicotine-stained as any of Amsterdam’s brown cafes and they’re hung with battered old pictures of legendary New Orleans founding fathers, Louisiana bluesmen, dirty boppers. At any time of day it seems someone has drifted in from the street to strum a guitar or blow a horn. At night when a band is playing, the lights glow red and it all gets seriously groovy.

If so many of the famous old jazz clubs have disappeared or converted to other types of music, Edinburgh’s still got a couple of authentic subterranean gems, Whighams, in Charlotte Square and The Jazz Bar, just off the Royal Mile. Both book the big names of the contemporary jazz fraternity.

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London’s got, among others, the Cellar Door and the Con Cellar where the jazz is progressive and the clientele highly knowledgeable. In the newly swinging Manchester, the graffiti-embellished Matt and Phred’s in Tib Street or the ultra chic La Gitane, underneath Café Istanbul, in Bridge Street, are usually packed out and buzzing.

But there’s really no need to go so far afield, when Yorkshire can boast two cellar bars of its own. The Cask, in Cambridge Terrace, not far from Scarborough’s south bay, has jazz on a Wednesday night. For a modest entrance fee of £7 you can get high quality small-group jazz. The new year kicks off on the 10th January with a real treat, a rare visit from acclaimed swing guitarist Garry Potter, backed by the Matt Holborn Trio. This promises to be a great night of Gypsy jazz, with shades of the legendary Django Reinhardt, perhaps, and the Hot Club de Paris.

The Basement is a modern-style club, in the heart of York, beneath City Screen Picturehouse. It has live entertainment of one kind or another most nights of the week. Virtuosic pianist Wendy Kirkland heads the first jazz event of the new year, on 19th January, bringing a high quality trio with her, in a celebration of the work of the best of pianist-vocalists, Diana Krall, Eliane Elias, Shirley Horn, Nina Simone, Blossom Dearie and others. The entrance fee is £7.

Why not go down and get high on jazz!

Jazzy Bargain Basements In York And Scarborough, 1st January 2018, 8:09 AM