Looking for a place to enjoy some great jazz locally? The Chianti Tuscan Restaurant and Jazz Lounge in Beverly offers live music every night! Dinah Cardin interviews Barbara Alex about the Jazz sessions at the lounge.
1. How did jazz sessions start?
First of all , thank you Dinah for the interview, greatly appreciated.
The concept of the jazz sessions is a vision I had for a very very very long time. I wanted to establish a community of jazz musicians, actually all musicians, where we could come together, inspire creativity, provide support and the opportunity to play music. You might say, to create a jazz family. This has not been a solos endeavor. The jazz sessions would not be the tremendous success they have been without the fabulous musicians who play with me, the folks who come to the jazz sessions, and Rich Marino. This is truly a labor of love, a dream come true.
Our 1st year anniversary bash ”Celebrate Music” is Sunday, Nov. 18th from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the Chanti Jazz Lounge, 285 Cabot St., Beverly. All musicians are welcome and this event is open to the public as are all jazz sessions. I am thrilled about reaching this milestone!!
2. What about Chianti’s long history of jazz inspires you?
I have great admiration for Rich Marino, the owner of Chianti. His enthusiasm and appreciation for all music, especially jazz, his boundless energy and dedication to promoting the music deserves recognition, he is a gem. He has always offered music at his restaurant. Prior to expanding Chianti and adding the jazz lounge, the music was in the dining room. One of the first groups I remember hearing was Whose Muddy Shoes. They still play at Chianti in the jazz lounge.
3. What are your plans going forward?
Looking ahead, I’d like to encourage and support more students , who are the future of jazz, to be involved in the jazz sessions. I am currently speaking with Berklee, Salem State University, Northeastern, Phillips Exeter, Ipswich High, Masconomet and several teachers on the North Shore and greater Boston area. The sessions offer the students a great opportunity to experience a “live” performance with a professional band. Performing in front of “live” audience is a fantastic way to learn and grow as a musician, the live experience affords the musicians the opportunity to hone their craft. I would like all musicians to take advantage of jazz sessions..
4. Why is it important to keep the tradition of live jazz going?
I believe that jazz, although it may be hard to define, is one of the most incredible musical art forms that this culture has produced. Jazz came from the African -American heritage. I believe that jazz celebrates democratic possibilities; liberation, freedom, soaring above adversities. Also, jazz conveys a tremendous sense of hope and possibility and joy, a spontaneous , irrepressible energy that is quite remarkable. The improvisational essence of jazz, interpreting a piece of music in a very personal way and playing with other musicians before an audience, the exchange between the listeners and the musicians creates a tremendous feeling of vitality.
5. What is your musical background?
My first instrument was a steel drum, made by one of the natives on the Caribbean island of my birth, Trinidad. I remember as a child that I felt like I was being carried along like a leaf on a stream, that it was not a choice, I was drawn to music. I always found myself involved in music and performing. The church choir, getting my friends in the neighborhood together to perform a play, starting a band, always singing, singing, singing. I am currently aspiring to be a jazz guitarist and writing my own material. Music is who I am. In thinking about this question, I am reminded of one of my favorite songs that I would sing as a child, “When You Wish Upon a Star”, written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington in 1940. Yes, dreams do come true.