The Madison jazz club arrives on Willy Street. Info/tix
Café Coda, a jazz club with saxophonist Hanah Jon Taylor at the helm, has endured a bumpy ride but still managed to make a real contribution to Madison's music community. The venue first opened in early 2017 in the former Fountain bar on State Street, but only lasted there about six months. Still, in that time Coda became home to a weekly Latin jazz jam, hosted performances from Madison-based notables like pianist Joan Wildman, and brought in renowned jazz artists from out of town, perhaps most notably a June 2017 performance from saxophonist David Murray and percussionist Kahil El'Zabar. But in August 2017, Coda had to vacate, because its downtown building is slated for demolition so that developers can build "another designer motherfuckin' hotel," as Taylor memorably announced to the audience at that David Murray show. But Taylor quickly set to work finding a new location, and it's finally here, in the former PaintBar space on Willy Street.
The new space's grand opening will be an all-day affair, starting at noon with a community drum circle, which is slated to be one of Coda's recurring weekly events. At 3 p.m., Coda will host an open house—there's been a lot of renovation at the space in a short period of time, and it will be interesting to see how the staff has gone about transforming it from, well, a paint bar into Taylor's vision of a proper, intimate jazz club with an elegant bar that serves "good booze." The grand opening will culminate in two trio sets (7:30 and 9:30 p.m.) from Alexis Lombre, a jazz pianist who divides her time between Detroit and her native Chicago. Lombre's debut album as bandleader, 2017's Southside Sounds, uses original compositions to fondly explore Chicago's jazz and blues legacy. The blues element comes to the fore most strongly on "Lonely Path" and "Why I Don't Know," and Lombre channels some of McCoy Tyner's stormy grandeur on the opening track, "A Blues In Tyne." —Scott Gordon