NEA Jazz Master Todd Barkan and Michelin-starred chef Robert Wiedmaier have joined forces to relaunch Keystone Korner, the legendary San Francisco (and later) Tokyo club that set the standard for jazz performance in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ’90s.
The impresario, a NEA Jazz Master and the former programming director of Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the chef, proprietor of 11 restaurants in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, will be bringing together world-class music and top-flight cuisine in Baltimore’s booming Harbor East.
The venture marks the first large-scale jazz club in the region since the demise of the beloved Ethel’s Place and Blues Alley Baltimore in the late ‘80s.
Keystone Korner Baltimore will officially open on April 30, to coincide with International Jazz Day, withthree nights of performances by the Ron Carter Trio featuring Russell Malone and Donald Vega. The former Miles Davis bassist will be celebrating his 82nd birthday at the club.
Over the coming months, the venue will also host some of jazz’s most recognized and important artists, including Kenny Garrett, Duduka Da Fonseca, Joey DeFrancesco, The Cookers, Sean Jones, Kenny Barron, Steve Turre, Rene Marie, Gary Bartz, Monty Alexander, Christian McBride, and more. (Please see the complete and confirmed schedule, below).
Barkan is committed to providing the highest-quality sonic experience at the club. Last week he enlisted Baltimore-native Cyrus Chestnut to assist in selecting the perfect Steinway piano for the room. As well, Joey DeFrancesco’s Viscount Legend JD Signature Model organ will be housed on-site.
Barkan is equally committed to dynamic pricing for the room, which will hold upwards of 200 patrons. He said he hopes that keeping ticket prices low — and setting aside affordable seats at every performance for students — will make this art form he has committed his life to available to as many people as possible.
“Our mission at Keystone Korner in San Francisco from 1972 to 1983 was to provide the best music in the world for the most affordable prices in the most loving environment,” says Barkan, “and that is still our fundamental goal in 2019 at Keystone Korner Baltimore. Here, we have the added blessing of joining forces with chef Robert Wiedmaier and his talented team, which ensures that the food and libations will be as inspiring and reasonably-priced as the phenomenal music."
Wiedmaier and Barkan first met at the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters Awards Dinner, and soon after began talking about the idea of opening a space together. The club will take the place of Wiedmaier’s former Mussel Bar, located at 1350 Lancaster St in Harbor East.
Says Wiedmaier: “This is in so many ways a dream come true — to partner with a master like Todd Barkan and revive the legendary Keystone Korner and bring world-class jazz to a great city like Baltimore. And to be able to do it in this wonderful spot right on the water, in what we think will offer a new vision for the jazz club in this century, with a warm and lively vibe, a staff like family, great food, and the best musicians on the planet.“
That warmth and intimacy are of the utmost importance to Barkan, who says: “While Rahsaan Roland Kirk & The Vibration Society were making their iconic 1973 live recording Bright Moments for Atlantic Records at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco, Rahsaan happily noted that ‘it sure is nice to play in a place that feels like your living room.’"
to re-live the Keystone Korner through Barkan’s narrative.