The Miami Jazz Jam at Churchill's: Still the best show in town. | County Grind | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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The Miami Jazz Jam at Churchill's: Still the best show in town.

Churchill’s (5501 NE Second Avenue, Miami; 305-757-1807) Monday night Jazz Jam, winner of our 2007 Best of Miami award, is not a well-kept secret. It’s more like an institution. But a reminder is still in order: if you haven’t gone, you’re missing some of the best regularly-scheduled live music in Miami.

The first time I went, the band was made up of white-haired old white men, guys that looked like they retired here. They played upbeat, trumpet-heavy jazz, like what you might expect from an excellent wedding band.

Last night, Churchill’s had booked roughly the opposite: a crew of men in their 20s, blasting long, meandering sets packed with showy solos. Anchoring the group was a drummer who played with something like a palsied flair, skipping with a tightly-controlled but rapid-fire swinging of the sticks from drums to cymbals as his contorted face stared straight into the crowd.

And on Monday’s, the improvisation doesn’t stop at the notes -- it goes for the performers too. Roving musicians watching the show are often pulled in for a couple of sets, which is how, last night, we got bonus performances from a trumpeter and a big, linebacker-esque trombonist who stole the show.

And, as is always the case at Churchill’s, the eclectic people-watching is unmatched. On always-crowded Mondays, you get ultra-hipsters, jazz nerds, guys just there to play pool, underaged kids and -- the essential sign of a good jazz show anywhere -- hoardes of old men. The between sets DJ this week was a white-bearded prospector –looking dude in overalls who at one point played a record of animal sounds interspersed with opera music.

With the jazz scene currently dominated by either $8 martinis or empty seats, it’s refreshing to have a place where, at least on one night a week, the genre is still hip.

-- Gus Garcia-Roberts

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Jose D. Duran has been the associate web editor of Miami New Times since 2008. He's the voice and strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's music, entertainment, and cultural scenes since 2006, previously through sites such as MiamiNights.com and OnBeat.com. He earned his BS in journalism with a minor in art history from the University of Florida. He's a South Florida native and will be a Miami resident as long as climate change permits and the temperature doesn't drop below 60 degrees.
Contact: Jose D. Duran

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