Smoke Jazz Club Launches New Streaming Service, Smoke Screens, Delivering its Intimate Stage to Audiences Around the World with Unparalleled Audio and Video Quality
Featuring World-renowned Artists Captured Live
by Six HD Cameras in Audiophile Sound
Smoke Screens: Livestream Concerts from New York’s Smoke Jazz Club
New York City’s vital live jazz scene fell silent when the coronavirus pandemic forced clubs to close and people to self-isolate. While it still may not be safe for crowds to congregate in clubs yet, audiences are experiencing live music again and musicians and venues are finding ways to connect again within the confines of the new reality.
(Keyon Harrold, Julius Rodriguez, Ben Williams & Otis Brown III)
With the launch of Smoke Screens, New York’s revered Smoke Jazz & Supper Club returns with an all-star roster of musicians captured in stellar quality and streamed to eager listeners across the globe. Featuring video captured live by six HD cameras, audiophile sound, and some of the jazz world’s most acclaimed artists, Smoke Screens may not be quite the same as sitting in person at the front of the stage, but in some ways it’s a complimentary experience that viewers are demanding continue after the club reopens A $10 ticket price provides access for 48 hours after the 8pm Eastern set, so that jazz fans around the world can check out the show in all time zones.
“Smoke, late to the live-streaming game, showed that waiting was worth the wait with its inaugural online concerts,” wrote Andrey Henkin in The New York City Jazz Record. “The smallest of the major clubs by capacity, the Upper West Side venue known for its intimacy in person was well recreated online, with the best sound this reviewer has (virtually) heard thus far and no less than six camera angles.”
Launched in July with a burning performance by saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, the series has already hosted vibrant sets by Smoke favorites including guitarist Peter Bernstein, saxophonists Vincent Herring and Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Christian Sands and trombonist Steve Turre. September’s calendar promises to be equally compelling, with a must-see schedule including pianist Cyrus Chestnut (Sept. 11-12), trumpeter Eddie Henderson (Sept. 18-19) leading his quartet with fellow legends George Cables on piano and Mike Clark on drums, and drummer Joe Farnsworth (Sept. 25-26) celebrating the release of his new album on the Smoke Sessions label, Time To Swing, with special guest Wynton Marsalis.
“It’s been tough for a lot of people,” says Smoke owner Paul Stache about the forced quarantine. “It’s tough for us, it’s tough for the musicians and it’s tough for New York. All the things that we love about the city are shut down, and it’s going to take a long time to recover, so there a lot of great musicians that need an opportunity to play, and there are a lot of people around the world who are hungry for live music. Smoke Screens is our attempt to bring the intimacy and excitement of Smoke into people’s living rooms and find a way to bring them the music they need.”
The idea of livestreaming has been on the drawing board at Smoke for a number of years, but like other initiatives related to the club, the goal was to do it right. “We wanted the livestreams to reflect the quality of the artists performing. A lot of great musicians play here, and if we’re going to invite Peter Bernstein or Sullivan Fortner or Cyrus Chestnut to play the club, we’ve got to make them sound and look as good as we possibly can.” Stache explains. “We needed to do some research and get the livestream to a level that we feel good about. We’re always refining the productions, but we are very happy with them so far”
Another important and unprecedented aspect to consider was how to present the shows safely, for both the musicians on stage as well as the Smoke staff necessary to bringing their music to audiences. There is no audience present for these livestreams, musicians are separated by plexiglass dividers, and masks are encouraged for those players who are able to wear them.
With a schedule of concerts that would have been worth traveling for in the days when that was still a possibility, Smoke Screens offers a much-needed menu of new live music for those who’ve been missing that integral part of their cultural lives. “Of course, we can always put on our favorite records,” Stache says, “but I think there’s something vitally different about hearing and seeing music performed live, especially where jazz is concerned. I think we need that experience now more than ever.”