Last Thursday, I went to the Roots Cafe on Westminster Street in Providence to check out a free show that Scott Murawski announced on Twitter that day (though apparently, it was known before then). Roots Cafe has only been open for a month or two, so I got double the excitement in seeing a new bar/restaurant/venue in town and also checking out some live music.
First, the venue… It’s in the old Black Rep a few doors down from Tazza. While I had never been to the Black Rep, it was sad to see it close. I know people who really enjoyed that place. I was happy to learn that something new opened up there. It’s a small little space with a tiny stage and a balcony with some tables. It has an L shaped bar with a lot of jazz/Harlem-influenced decor. It’s a nice room, perfect for the location. I don’t know if they have food or not, but they did have a decent, though small, beer selection. They had two taps. One was Peak Organic’s IPA, and the other was a Wachusett seasonal. They also had a small bottle selection. I can definitely see myself hanging out there. It’s got a cool vibe to it. It seems to fill a void in the Providence music scene. What I like about it is that it’s owned/run by the Providence Inner-City Arts, a non-profit organization that holds community arts events.
Now, the music… The band was made up of a bunch of musician friends who had never played together as a group – Scott Murawski on guitar, George Garzone on sax, Lionel Cordew on drums, Gregorio Vento on percussion, Tony Betancourt on guitar, and Baron Brown on bass. They were billed as “Jazz Jam” and that’s pretty much what they did. It wasn’t entirely free-form as they played songs, though I don’t have a setlist. While the music wasn’t mind-blowing, it was solid. For a group of people who had never all played together, they were pretty tight. You could tell they were all great at listening to one another as they jammed. It was a free show, and totally worth it. Heck, I would’ve paid $5-10 for this. I hope they continue to play as I’d love to see it again. Apparently, they’ve played as “Jazz Jam” before, but not all the same musicians. Scott is obviously an amazing guitarist, but I think the MVP of the night goes to Gregorio. That dude can beat those congas!
All in all, it was a great night of music at a great new venue in the city. I got to finally meet someone I had known on the Internet for about 6-7 years now, and I got to see some great music. If you’re in Providence, I highly recommend you check out Roots Cafe, and if you ever see Jazz Jam billed nearby, check them out.
UPDATE: Noticed some people came to this post via searching “jamjazz roots”. I figured I’d update with a link to a recording of the show as well. The links call it “Jam Jazz”, but they billed themselves as “Jazz Jam”.