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Boston jazz in December

Scott Haas
Boston jazz in December
Nia Grace is the new owner of Darryl’s Corner Bar. photo: Scott Haas

Each year, Boston celebrates the holiday season with good music, and no music is better than jazz. Throughout the city, musicians are performing and, depending on your budget, it’s time to dig in.

Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen, where Lower Roxbury meets the South End, is among the best local venues for enjoying good music and good food. Nia Grace took over as owner in September.

Darryl’s Corner Bar serves as an important performance space for local music students. photo: Scott Haas

Darryl’s Corner Bar serves as an important performance space for local music students. photo: Scott Haas

“I worked for many years both in entertainment and production as well as for Volunteers for America,” she tells the Banner, “and became general manager here before taking it over. This is the perfect place for using my creativity and interest in community-building.”

Grace is building a strong base for local musicians who are emerging.

“Bill Banfield, an instructor and guitarist over at Berklee, is an amazing resource,” she says. “He suggests talent to me who might perform here.” Banfield is also the author of several books on culture, music and philosophy, including “Cultural Codes: Makings of a Black Music Philosophy (African American Cultural Theory and Heritage).”

Coming up at DCBK, Grace says, “We have jazz on Wednesday and Thursday nights as well as Sunday mornings, and our Jingle Bell Brunch on the 23rd of December is going to be a huge holiday jam featuring jazz and blues singer Valerie Stephens.”

More in the South End

Down the street from Darryl’s is Wally’s, the always-reliable jazz club that has served as a space for musicians for decades. Every night of the week, from 6 to 9 p.m. the club holds jam sessions, and depending on who is playing, you have a shot at a memorable evening.

The Beehive is another South End venue where jazz is often on the menu. No cover charge, but drinks and dinner are definitely part of the scene. One of the best acts featured at the Beehive in December is Noah Preminger, a Connecticut-born sax player who performs on Saturday the 15th. Preminger was the winner of Downbeat Magazine’s “Rising Star Best Tenor Saxophonist” in 2017.

Speaking of the sax, the same night Preminger is at the Beehive, you can instead attend the Friends of John Coltrane Memorial Concert at 8 p.m. at Northeastern University’s Blackman Auditorium. Celebrating John Coltrane’s music and spiritual legacy, the evening is hosted by Eric Jackson, legendary radio personality, and features the musical direction of Dr. Carl Atkins as well as renowned performers including Stan Strickland, Laszlo Gardony, Bill Pierce and Bobby Tynes.

Other major venues

Later in December, on the 28th, you may want to head over to Scullers, one of the best jazz clubs on the East Coast, where the Black Art Jazz Collective is holding forth on what they are calling “post-bop originals dedicated to African American icons.” Thirty dollars gets you in the door.

On the other side of the river is the Regattabar, ensconced in Harvard Square’s Charles Hotel. Sorry to say, there are no performances scheduled there in December until a New Year’s Eve show, but don’t lose hope. Plan ahead and you will have the rare opportunity to see and hear Ron Carter on Feb. 22 and 23, 2019. Carter is arguably one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, having played bass with the Miles Davis Quintet from 1963 to 1968, and at 81 years old, he remains creative, resilient and inspirational.

Old and new, Boston remains at the forefront of joyful jazz this holiday season.

On the Web

  • Wally’s Café:
  • Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen:
  • The Beehive:
  • Regattabar: