Upcoming Keystone Korner Schedule

Freddy Cole Quartet w/Lionel Cole  June 20-23
Baltimore Jazz Collective    June 24, July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Janis Siegel Trio w/John DiMartino  June 25-26
Eddie Palmieri Sextet  June 27-30
Joel Harrison Quartet with Gary Versace  July 4
Johnny O’Neal Trio  July 5-6
Benny Russell Big Band  July 7 & 14
Loston Harris w/Mark Whitfield and Paul Gill  July 12-13
Dr. Monty Alexander, CD w/JJ Shakur & Jason Brown  July 18-21
Greg Hatza Organ-ization  July 24
Gary Bartz Quartet  July 25-28
Larry Willis with Blake Meister & Victor Lewis, July 31 & Aug 1
Baltimore Jazz Collective  August 5, 12, 19, 26
Roy Ayers  August 2-4
Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya  August 8-11
Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio  August 15-18
Louis Hayes Quintet – Silver Serenade  August 23-25
Christian McBride’s New Jawn  September 13-15
To Grover With Love with Maysa  September 19
Paquito D’Rivera Quintet  September 20-22
James Carter Organ Trio September 26-29
Stanley Cowell Quintet  October 4-5
Rene Marie  October 24-27

Posted in Keystone Korner |

Keystone Korner Baltimore feature article in The Washington Post

From an old-time impresario comes a new jazz venue in Baltimore

A look inside the new Keystone Korner jazz club in Baltimore. (RW Restaurant Group)

A look inside the new Keystone Korner jazz club in Baltimore. (RW Restaurant Group)

By Geoffrey Himes, Washington Post, May 22, 2019

The Keystone Korner was just beginning its third week of operation in Baltimore’s Harbor East when the all-star jazz septet the Cookers took the stage on May 15. Billy Harper, tall and lean in a shiny silver shirt, erupted into a Coltrane-esque tenor-sax solo on his composition, “Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart.” His lightning was echoed by the thundering drumming from Billy Hart, the brawny and balding 78-year-old D.C. native. From tables around the spacious new nightclub, shouts of encouragement egged the two soloists on into an improvised crescendo.

It was the kind of moment that impresario Todd Barkan had in mind when he reincarnated his legendary Keystone Korner club in Baltimore. The original club had flourished in San Francisco from 1972 through 1983, followed by short stints in Oakland and Tokyo. Landmark live albums by the likes of Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans and Freddie Hubbard had been recorded there. Barkan, one of the National Endowment of Art’s Jazz Masters, had been a programmer for Jazz at Lincoln Center from 2000 to 2012, but he was eager to run a club again.

“I have one of the rarest things in the world: a jazz pension,” the 72-year-old retiree says, “but I don’t want to sit home and watch Netflix for the rest of my life. Presenting jazz is what I’m supposed to do. People tell me I’m crazy, but I haven’t been this excited since I took over the Keystone Korner in San Francisco.”

Wearing his NEA Jazz Masters baseball cap and a dark blue blazer, Barkan fairly bubbles with enthusiasm. During intermission, he grabs a journalist and a musician to show off photographs and posters from his long career that now hang on the walls of the Baltimore club.

Todd Barkan, left, and chef Robert Wiedmaier teamed up to bring a jazz club to Baltimore. (Michael Wilderman/jazzvisionphotos.com)

Todd Barkan, left, and chef Robert Wiedmaier teamed up to bring a jazz club to Baltimore. (Michael Wilderman/jazzvisionphotos.com)

It was at a 2018 dinner for the NEA Jazz Masters at Marcel’s in Washington, in fact, that Barkan met that restaurant’s owner-chef, the Michelin-starred chef Robert Wiedmaier, a big jazz fan. They hit it off and were soon talking about opening a jazz club in D.C. They could never find the right site, though, and searches in Houston and Atlanta proved equally fruitless. It was only this January that Wiedmaier suggested opening the club in his shuttered Mussel Bar and Grille in Baltimore.

Previous attempts to give Baltimore an international-talent jazz club like New York’s Blue Note or D.C.’s Blues Alley have foundered. Blues Alley even made a stab at a Baltimore presence once. But Barkan is confident that he will succeed where others have failed. His partnership with Wiedmaier suggests that the food will be as good as the music. Harbor East offers a downtown neighborhood with lots of affordable parking and upscale condos. In fact, Barkan and his wife have moved from New York into a condo above the club, which faces a canal off the Inner Harbor.

The bar area of the new Keystone Korner jazz club in Baltimore. (RW Restaurant Group)

The bar area of the new Keystone Korner jazz club in Baltimore. (RW Restaurant Group)

“In the best tradition of my grandparents,” Barkan jokes, “we’re living over the store.” This store, however, is a sprawling restaurant with large, round, communal tables near the stage, smaller tables in back and bar stools along the long island bar off from stage left. The high ceilings reveal exposed ducts and soft, muslin-shaded lights in industrial-chic fashion.

Back onstage, trumpeter Eddie Henderson is caressing the melody from Harper’s romantic ballad, “If One Could Only See,” while Stanley Cowell supports him with rippling chords on the club’s Steinway grand piano. The sound is clear and crisp. Barkan points out that the piano was picked out for the club by Cyrus Chestnut, a pianist for everyone from Wynton Marsalis to Betty Carter.

“I rushed over to the Steinway Piano Gallery in Bethesda from Howard University, where I teach,” Chestnut explains. “My first thought was, ‘I can’t just be selfish and pick an instrument that’s good for me, because many hands are going to be playing it. So I need to pick an instrument that’s flexible.’ I played a couple of pianos, but I kept coming back to this one. It had the subtlety of a chamber group but also the ability to cut through an ensemble.”

Chestnut now lives in Jersey City, but he grew up Baltimore, playing in African American churches and studying classical music at Peabody Prep. He’ll blend all those influences when he performs with drummer Lenny White, bassist Buster Williams and saxophonist Antonio Hart at the Keystone Korner this weekend. Chestnut is proud to have inherited the New Year’s Eve gig at Blues Alley from Ahmad Jamal and Freddy Cole, but he’s excited that his hometown finally has major league jazz club.

“A jazz renaissance is happening in Baltimore,” Chestnut asserts. “You can see it in the launch of the Peabody Conservatory’s jazz department, the emergence of small clubs such as An Die Musik Live and Caton Castle, and now the Keystone Korner, with all its history. It can only do great things for the city by preserving its rich culture, even if that tradition has often been hidden by other things.”

Posted in Keystone Korner, Todd Barkan |

San Francisco’s Historic Keystone Korner Reborn in Baltimore, Legendary Jazz Club Set to Open April 30 on International Jazz Day

Keystone Korner Baltimore
“The Eternal Jazz Messenger Art Blakey often said that ‘My heart belongs to Keystone,’ and that heart is still beating strong.”Todd Barkan, NEA Jazz Master

“Keystone Korner was the quintessential jazz club. With the down-home feeling of your favorite watering hole and with the special spark of international artistic charisma that a knowledgeable jazz audience brings to any environment, the Keystone was a happy home to people of all persuasions.”   — Wynton Marsalis

“Keystone Korner was the Birdland of the Seventies.” — Mary Lou Williams


NEA Jazz Master Todd Barkan and Michelin-starred chef Robert Wiedmaier have joined forces to relaunch Keystone Korner, the legendary San Francisco (and later) Tokyo club that set the standard for jazz performance in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ’90s.

The impresario, a NEA Jazz Master and the former programming director of Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the chef, proprietor of 11 restaurants in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, will be bringing together world-class music and top-flight cuisine in Baltimore’s booming Harbor East.

The venture marks the first large-scale jazz club in the region since the demise of the beloved Ethel’s Place and Blues Alley Baltimore in the late ‘80s.

Keystone Korner Baltimore will officially open on April 30, to coincide with International Jazz Day, with three nights of performances by the Ron Carter Trio featuring Russell Malone and Donald Vega. The former Miles Davis bassist will be celebrating his 82nd birthday at the club.

Over the coming months, the venue will also host some of jazz’s most recognized and important artists, including Kenny Garrett, Duduka Da Fonseca, Joey DeFrancesco, The Cookers, Sean Jones, Kenny Barron, Steve Turre, Rene Marie, Gary Bartz, Monty Alexander, Christian McBride, and more. (Please see the complete and confirmed schedule, below).

Barkan is committed to providing the highest-quality sonic experience at the club. Last week he enlisted Baltimore-native Cyrus Chestnut to assist in selecting the perfect Steinway piano for the room. As well, Joey DeFrancesco’s Viscount Legend JD Signature Model organ will be housed on-site.

Barkan is equally committed to dynamic pricing for the room, which will hold upwards of 200 patrons. He said he hopes that keeping ticket prices low — and setting aside affordable seats at every performance for students — will make this art form he has committed his life to available to as many people as possible.

“Our mission at Keystone Korner in San Francisco from 1972 to 1983 was to provide the best music in the world for the most affordable prices in the most loving environment,” says Barkan, “and that is still our fundamental goal in 2019 at Keystone Korner Baltimore. Here, we have the added blessing of joining forces with chef Robert Wiedmaier and his talented team, which ensures that the food and libations will be as inspiring and reasonably-priced as the phenomenal music.”

Wiedmaier and Barkan first met at the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters Awards Dinner, and soon after began talking about the idea of opening a space together. The club will take the place of Wiedmaier’s former Mussel Bar, located at 1350 Lancaster St in Harbor East.

Says Wiedmaier: “This is in so many ways a dream come true — to partner with a master like Todd Barkan and revive the legendary Keystone Korner and bring world-class jazz to a great city like Baltimore. And to be able to do it in this wonderful spot right on the water, in what we think will offer a new vision for the jazz club in this century, with a warm and lively vibe, a staff like family, great food, and the best musicians on the planet.“

That warmth and intimacy are of the utmost importance to Barkan, who says: “While Rahsaan Roland Kirk & The Vibration Society were making their iconic 1973 live recording Bright Moments for Atlantic Records at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco, Rahsaan happily noted that ‘it sure is nice to play in a place that feels like your living room.’”

Click here to re-live the Keystone Korner through Barkan’s narrative.


Upcoming Performance Schedule

April 30 – May 2 | Ron Carter Trio w. Russell Malone and Donald Vega
May 3 – 5 | Kenny Garrett Sextet
May 6 & 7 | Samba Jazz & Tom Jobim — Duduka Da Fonseca-Maucha Adnet Quintet w. Billy Drewes, Helio Alves, and Martin Wind
May 8 | Bill Charlap (solo)
May 9 | Bill Charlap & Jon Faddis
May 10 & 11 | Joey DeFrancesco Quartet
May 15 – 19 | The Cookers w. Billy Harper, Donald Harrison, David Weiss, George Cables, Cecil McBee, and Billy Hart
May 21 | Matthew Whitaker
May 22 – 26 | Cyrus Chestnut w. Buster Williams and Lenny White (special guest Antonio Hart from May 24 – 26 only)
May 28 & 29 | DOUBLE BILL: Raul Midón & Sean Jones “Dizzy Spellz”
May 30 – June 2 | Kenny Barron Quartet w. Regina Carter, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, and Justin Faulkner
June 6 – 9 | Steve Turre Sextet w. James Carter, Vincent Herring, Mike LeDonne, Buster Williams, and Darrell Green performing “Bright Moments — The Music of Rahsaan Roland Kirk”
June 14 – 16 | John Pizzarelli — Centennially Yours, Celebrating Nat King Cole
June 20 – 23 | Freddy Cole Quartet w. Lionel Cole
June 27 – 30 | René Marie Quartet

Check the Keystone Korner website for full up to date schedule

Posted in Keystone Korner |

Keystone Korner Baltimore Grand Opening on April 30th

The Keystone Korner Baltimore at 1350 Lancaster Street in Harbor East in Baltimore will have its Grand Opening on International Jazz Day, Tuesday, April 30th, 2019, with the Ron Carter Trio with Russell Malone and Donald Vega. Showtimes at 7 & 9 pm, and we are are happy and proud to share with you a preview of our Grand Opening Poster being published next week.

Read more about Keystone Korner Baltimore

Looking forward to seeing you there soon, Todd Barkan

Keystone Korner Baltimore

Posted in Keystone Korner |

“We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told”

We Knew What We Had The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told
I am very proud and happy to be introducing and sharing a magical Pittsburgh Jazz Documentary, “We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told,” at a free-admission Listening Party at the Varis Leichtman Studio at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Friday, February 8th, beginning at 7 pm. The film explores the unique cultural streams that came together in the 1800s and 1900s to create the special Pittsburgh community that nurtured so many iconic jazz innovators such as Earl Fatha Hines, Mary Lou Williams, Ray Brown, Billy Strayhorn, Ahmad Jamal, Billy Eckstine, Roy Eldridge, Kenny Clarke, Erroll Garner, Art Blakey, Roy Eldridge, George Benson, and Stanley Turrentine.

Posted in Todd Barkan |