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Scullers celebrates 30 years of jazz

Allston jazz venue celebrates with concert series through December

Scott Haas

Scullers Jazz Club in Allston is celebrating its 30th anniversary starting this September and running through December. The celebration is already seeing top-flight jazz, both familiar and wildly innovative, from musicians revered internationally.

In September, the club has already showcased pianist Christian Sands, and vocalist Kurt Elling alongside Danilo Perez on piano. Next up is sax player Kenny Garrett performing on Sept. 20 and 21 at 8 and 10 p.m.

Expanding the definition of what jazz is and isn’t, on Sept. 27, at 8 and 10 p.m. is The Midnight Hour, started in 2018 by Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest and producer/composer Adrian Younge. At Scullers, they will be joined by Angela Munoz, Jack Waterson and Lauren Oden. Best known for writing the score for Marvel’s “Luke Cage” on Netflix, The Midnight Hour takes hip-hop, R&B and jazz, mixes things up and creates new sounds. Come prepared to move, as Scullers announces, “For this special show, please note the main floor of the club will be standing room only unless you purchase dinner and show packages, which come with reserved seats.”

Continuing with a wide-open approach to what music can be about, Grammy Award-winning singer Macy Gray will take over the club for three nights, Oct. 17 through 19, at 8 and 10 p.m. Using her smoky voice to reinterpret rock and R&B classics until they become as associated with her versions as the originals, Gray has a knack for making listeners rethink where jazz can go in terms of musical exploration. It’s a rare opportunity to hear a great performer in a small club setting. And for those with deep pockets and an ability to stay up late, there’s a “meet and greet with Macy” each night at 11:30 p.m., purchased separately for $100 per person.

On Oct. 25 and 26, The Bad Plus plays at 8 and 10 p.m. This idiosyncratic trio out of Minneapolis will treat people’s ears to a blend of sounds that is theirs alone. What does this mean? Bassist Reid Anderson, pianist Orrin Evans and drummer Dave King recorded “Blunt Object Live in Tokyo,” and on the same CD did their take of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and the jazz standard “My Funny Valentine.” It’s not a mash-up, it’s precise and a little bit intellectual, but always fearless.

Finally, on this road of taking jazz in new directions, there’s Robert Glasper. On Dec. 13 and 14 at 8 and 10 p.m., Glasper arrives with his trio that uses synthe-sizers as well as traditional instruments, in ways many will find surprising and exciting. Having worked with Mos Def and Kendrick Lamar, he creates music that’s hard to define. If Thelonious Monk and George Clinton were in one man, that man might be Robert Glasper.

Back to the jazz tradition

For those who enjoy music more evidently part of the great jazz tradition, too, Scullers has an array of musicians not to be missed.

Trumpeter Wallace Roney will be in town for one show only on Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. With a sound indebted to Miles Davis, Roney’s music has extraordinary depth. He has an ability to establish a romantic mood with just a few spare, long notes.

On Nov. 8 and 9 at 8 and 10 p.m., Cuban-American Arturo Sandoval takes to the stage with his trumpet. Defecting from Cuba in 1990 while touring with his mentor Dizzy Gillespie, Sandoval has won 10 Grammy awards. Sandoval is impossible to categorize, always open to new sounds and ways of creating music, yet sticking close to what’s classic. On “Ultimate Duets,” his 2018 CD, he collaborated with Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande and Stevie Wonder.

And what better way to spend the weekend after Thanksgiving than by going to hear pianist Eddie Palmieri? Still going strong as he enters his 83rd year, Palmieri will be at Scullers at 8 and 10 p.m. on Nov. 29 and 30.

For those still in school, more good news: With a valid student ID, Scullers offers a 50% reduction on ticket prices at the door (depending on availability).

It’s quite a line-up this fall, thanks to Jan Mullen, artistic director and general manager of Scullers, who is bringing jazz forward while respecting the traditions that inspire new talent.

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