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Live jazz is back on the menu at Central Square’s Mad Monkfish

Scott Haas
Live jazz is back on the menu at Central Square’s Mad Monkfish
Jazz pianist Yoko Miwa PHOTO: Chris Lee

Live jazz is back at the Mad Monkfish in Central Square, Cambridge. After a long hiatus of nearly 16 months due to the COVID pandemic, this small restaurant has put music back on its pan-Asian and sushi menu. In the month of July alone, 10 performances will take place, with two shows per scheduled evening.

Musicians performing at Mad Monkfish during the month include Gilson Schachnik, Yoko Miwa, April Hall, Consuelo Candelaria, Shawnn Monteiro, Jerry Bergonzi, Pete Kenagy and George Russell, Jr. Several performers will be accompanied by their trios and quartets. Kenagy will lead the Monkfish Jazz Orchestra.

The food at Mad Monkfish includes sushi and what is described by the restaurant as its “personal interpretation of Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines.“ While there is no cover charge at this time for the music, customers are asked to order food and beverages (with no minimum) during shows.

The Yoko Miwa Trio is one highlight of the reopening. Miwa on piano, along with Brad Barrett on acoustic bass and Scott Goulding on drums, will be at Mad Monkfish on July 9, 23 and 30, with two shows per evening, 8 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.

“There are lots of songs in our repertoire,“ Miwa tells the Banner. “We’ll be performing standards, originals, and compositions by Joni Mitchell and The Beatles, for example.“

Miwa, originally from Kobe, Japan, is an associate professor at the Berklee College of Music in the piano department, and she brings to the music a sensibility grounded in tradition as well as attentiveness to contemporary experience.

Her ninth and latest album, “Songs of Joy,“ came out in February of this year.

DownBeat described “Songs of Joy“ as having “the drive and lyricism of a pianist and com-poser at home in bebop, gospel, pop, and classical.“ 

George Russell Jr. COURTESY PHOTO

George Russell Jr., chair of the harmony department at Berklee and former minister of music/chief musician for Jubilee (formerly New Covenant) Christian Church in Boston for 15 years, will perform on July 31 with Winston Maccow on bass and Sean Skeete on drums.

Mad Monkfish takes reservations for the shows, and offers evenings that may remind cus-tomers of what life was like before the world shut down. While other jazz clubs in the Boston area, including Scullers and Regattabar, remain shuttered, this small venue is serving up live music with dumplings, shumai, teriyaki, Thai noodles, curries, sushi and lots of vegetarian dishes.

The restaurant blends jazz and food, literally — you’ll find sushi rolls named “Mood Indigo“ (tuna, salmon, whitefish with tobiko and scallion on top), “Sophisticated Lady“ (shrimp tempura topped with tuna, avocado and eel sauce) and “Alice Coltrane“ (wok-roasted balsamic-glazed shiitake, green apple, avocado tempura).

So grab a pair of chopsticks, open your ears, and once again experience the joy of live jazz.

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