Jazz Bakery, a rare find in Los Angeles popular culture

Melissa Mills

If you are a jazz enthusiast looking for a quaint and comfortable place to hear your sound, the Jazz Bakery is the place

The bakery was founded 11-years ago by Ruth Price to allow local artists the chance to exhibit their talent. It is a non-profit organization that relies partly on paid employees and volunteers.

Tim Samut, who has been volunteering for 10-years said, “It’s the best jazz club in Los Angeles. We have the best acoustics and performers playing here.”

“Ruth is a fabulous lady who wants to preserve this historical sound for current and future generations,” he added.

Saturday, Sept. 15 was saxophonist Red Holloway’s 80th birthday bash. Holloway was influenced by music from the young age. His father was a violinist and his mother a pianist. In school, he started out by playing the banjo and harmonica until at the age of 12, when his stepfather gave him a tenor saxophone. He continued to play the sax into high school and was hired for his first professional performance at the age of 16 with Gene Wright. Through the years he has played with numerous performers and bands, including B.B. King, Billie Holliday, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Aretha Franklin.

Even with all of his astonishing accomplishments he is still a very humble man saying, “Tonight I am in the company of maestros.”

Accompanying Holloway for his birthday bash were a few close friends, Art Hillary on piano, Richard Reid on the acoustic bass, Gerryck King on the drums, and a special guest Donald Harrison on the saxophone as well.

The listening room was dimly light except for the stage, which created a certain ambiance that one would expect with jazz music. Paintings of other jazz musicians lined the walls. The seating holds about 100 people, although about 40 were in attendance for the show.

Patrick and Diane Dickerson come to the club about once a month, but would like to come more often if their schedules would permit.

“I come for the great music, this venue is very different because there is no food or drinks served during the show, it’s all about the music,” says Patrick Dickerson.

The set was opened with the song “Forecast” followed by “Gravy Walks” and then “I Remember You.” The band then smoothly transitioned into “River’s Invitation,” “What a Wonderful World,” an old favorite, and “Fried Elephant Lips.” The crowd was especially pleased with the last song that was performed, “Breezy,” which featured Holloway singing. He enlisted the help of those in the audience by having them sing the chorus with him. Everyone seemed to have a great time and Holloway’s singing was equally as good as his saxophone playing. All of the songs played were either contemporary or smooth jazz and very pleasing to the ears.

“The music was fantastic, my brother brought me here tonight for my birthday. Our father was a jazz man so we have loved jazz since a very young age,” said Catherine Schoers.

“I just want to get buzzed,” said Dave Johnson who was listening to the show from the lobby while drinking a beer. “I do like the music and the people also,” he said.

The band seemed to enjoy themselves as much as the listeners. One or more band member would close his eyes, feeling the music very deeply with continuing smiles upon their faces.

Harrison said he enjoyed being a part of the event. He was able to celebrate the birthday of an artist he loves and respects while he playing with and learning from the musicians he admires.

“The band members are all great, it’s always good to learn from masters,” Harrison said.

When asked why he liked playing at this venue Holloway jokingly said, “I don’t want to play anywhere, I have a house to pay for.”

He then followed up by saying that he enjoyed playing from time to time, especially at the Jazz Bakery.

The Jazz Bakery is open seven days a week with two shows nightly at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. It is located on 3233 Helms Ave, Culver City 90034.

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