Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hidden Gems Part 2: The Gramophone

One of the key factors in deciding whether or not I like a city is always the availability of a diverse range of live music, preferably cheap or free, and the environment in which it takes place.

While I didn't just unearth this gem last night, I want to make special mention of the Gramophone

I've been checking out the Gramophone periodically since it opened a few months ago.
Last night cemented the Gramophone as my jazz spot in STL.

I used to be a Wednesday night jazz at Riddles (Penultimate) die-hard. Drinks were affordable, cover was waived, and Ptah brought the faux ivory of his keyboard to life.

On the negative side, it was always really smokey, and the place isn't really set up very well as a venue.

The Gramophone, on the other hand, is a smoke free bar that doubles as a musical venue in the Grove (aka Tower Grove), an up-and-coming area previously known for gay-friendly bars such as Novack's.

Last night, New York jazz band Shift 4 was the main attraction. The band was unique in that the only chordal instrument was a vibraphone (instead of the usual piano or guitar), which lent a much softer and loftier tone to the performance.

Shift 4 started out fairly relaxed, with a more contemporary back-beat driven jazz sound and built up to spiraling, almost free jazz intensity as their crescendo reached a peak.

Saxaphonist Logan Richardson led the group through several unique compositions which didn't end as much as one faded into the other. Tommy Crane, fantastic drummer, and native son of STL made a triumphant return. Mike Pinto crushed it on Vibes, and Chris Tordini held down the bass grooves.

The Gramophone was packed, probably the most busy I've seen it, or at least, since 80's night a month or two ago.

Couple that with Sound Clash, a mash up filled Thursday night, hosted by DJs Crucial and Needles, two of the top hip hop and beyond DJs in the city, and you have a very unique place.

Which is exactly what Roo Yawitz, co-owner (with his wife) wanted to create.

Even their beer list is eclectic, ranging from cans of Schlitz and PBR to unique finds like Anchor Porter and McEwen's Scotch Ale.

This place is worth a visit! And if you haven't been, consider Thursday October 23rd a perfect time. Meet up with the Saint Louis Israel Connection for a night of Israeli music, dancing, and drink specials.

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