Summoning a West Coast Spirit
by Nate Chinen. Published: 28th February, 2013 | link
There was no outward sign of transition at the Iridium in January, as Jimmy Cobb smoothly powered an all-star band from his perch behind the drums. But the mood among the capacity crowd was both festive and knowing. Mr. Cobb and crew weren’t just remembering the great jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. They were also inaugurating Keystone Korner Nights, the Iridium’s new jazz series, booked by Todd Barkan.
Named after Keystone Korner, the fabled San Francisco club that Mr. Barkan ran from 1972 until it closed just over a decade later, the series held the promise of a reboot for the Iridium, which has been unfocused with its jazz offerings in recent years. It also signaled a new chapter for Mr. Barkan, 66, who last fall resigned as programming director for Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the in-house nightclub of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
It has all amounted to a subtle shift in the Manhattan jazz club firmament, one probably felt most acutely by the many patrons who had grown accustomed to Mr. Barkan’s garrulous bonhomie at Dizzy’s Club, since it opened in 2004 on the fifth floor of the Time Warner Center. The Iridium, hunkered beneath Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a tourist trap on Broadway at 51st Street, seemed to present another challenge for him: it’s a first-tier club that has too often embraced a spirit of brazen commercialism, which isn’t really Mr. Barkan’s style.