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Uncategorized | October 10, 2013

Legendary Trumpter Lew Soloff Comes to The Velvet Note Next Weekend

OCTOBER 19-20, 2013.  Lew Soloff, noted jazz trumpet soloist and session musician, will perform at The LewSoloff3Velvet Note in Alpharetta on October 19-20, 2013.  A brilliant high-note trumpeter long in great demand for big bands and session work, Mr. Soloff is also a distinctive soloist and an expert with the plunger mute. After studying at Juilliard, he free-lanced in New York with Maynard Ferguson, Joe Henderson, and Clark Terry, among others, and then was a part of Blood, Sweat & Tears during 1968-1973 (he is probably best-known for the trumpet solo on their hit, “Spinning Wheel”). Soloff was closely associated with Gil Evans from 1973 on, and also played with George Gruntz’s Concert Jazz Band, the Manhattan Jazz Quintet, and Carla Bley.    This is a rare, not-to-be-missed opportunity for guests to enjoy the live show of this jazz icon in a setting as intimate as The Velvet Note.  Mr. Soloff will be joined onstage by pianist Kenny Banks, bassist Kevin Smith and drummer Che Marshall.

Showtimes:  7:30pm and 9:30pm.  Tickets available now at http://thevelvetnote.com/lew-soloff.

Uncategorized | September 30, 2013


2 Kate McGarryOCTOBER 1, 2013.  With five records including the Grammy nominated, If Less Is More Nothing Is Everything, as well as their most recent, critically acclaimed Girl Talk, Kate McGarry  has established herself as one of contemporary jazz’s most moving and enigmatic voices.   Kate and her partner Keith Ganz will be previewing songs from their upcoming debut on Sunnyside Records, Genevieve & Ferdinand, on Saturday, October 5th and Sunday, October 6th at the Atlanta-area’s beloved hot spot The Velvet Note.   This live duo concert records 10 years of life and musical partnership and is hailed by The Wall St. Journal as, “An exceptionally appealing blend of folk and jazz….not to be missed!”

 More concerned with the essence of a song than idiomatic limitations, vocalist Kate McGarry and guitarist Keith Ganz have managed to attract the attention of tomorrow’s jazz fans. Beyond their obvious affinity for swing, their eclectic repertoire ranging from Irving Berlin to The Cars, and her signature contralto convey a message with a crystal clarity that precludes the need for gimmick or effect. All that’s left is undeniably honest music that transcends the boundaries of age or genre.

McGarry’s singular musical gift is her ability to broadcast emotional transparency with undeniable and artless force. The singer one hears time and again in McGarry’s work is gracious and endearing. She is vulnerable yet unbroken. She is always rapturous. With her musical and life collaborator, the guitarist Keith Ganz, McGarry has been forging a signature approach to standard and new compositions that is immediately fresh and very personal.”

 ~ Kurt Elling 10-time Grammy Nominee, 13x Winner Downbeat’s Jazz Vocalist of the Year Award

“This duo has figured out how to create jazz arrangements of songs by Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Stephen Stills and Ric Ocasek without compromising either the jazz or the rock’n’roll. The substitute chords, elasticized rhythms and deconstructionist solos make this satisfying jazz, while the lyrics are delivered with such forceful urgency that it’s still satisfying rock’n’roll. The songs are transformed but never obscured.” ~ Geoffrey Himes, music critic Paste, Downbeat, Jazz TImes

Performances:  October 5th and October 6th, Showtimes:  7:30pm and 9:30pm.  For tickets, go to http://thevelvetnote.com/kate-mcgarry or call 855.5.VELVET.  For press inquiries, please contact Tamara Fuller, General Manager at tfuller@thevelvetnote.com.


News | September 25, 2013

Take a Peek Inside

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be at an event inside The Velvet Note? Take a look at a clip from a recent show!

Uncategorized | September 17, 2013

A Lady Walks Into a Jazz Club

DSC_0680smallOne afternoon, a few weeks ago, a lady walked into our jazz club. She was pretty and gracious, refined and well-spoken, and the president of a wine distributing company specializing in varietals from Italy. “So, you want to sell me some wine,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “I think we have an outstanding selection of imports made in small quantities from an Italian winemaker with high standards. I notice that you don’t have any represented on your menu right now. Would you be willing to taste a few?” Now of all the responsibilities of a jazz club owner, the most grueling is that of tasting potential selections for our wine list. It requires a fit palate and a great deal of stamina and endurance. So, I put on my track shoes, did a few warm-up stretches, and along with our wine steward Cory, sat down for a demanding afternoon of focused winetasting.
It didn’t take long for us to find something we liked. Her Vernaccia di San Gimignano was light and crisp, with a slight hint of citrus, sporting substance, but with no overpowering notes. This was the kind of wine you could sip all day out by the pool. “Sold!” I said. I knew this would be a winner in the coming hot, humid months during which guests often ask for Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
The next wine we fell in love with shall remain nameless (so that we can get it onto The Velvet Note menu before anyone else does). I typically do not care for dessert wines, barring the occasional Chateau d’ Yquem on the heels of an outrageously-priced steak dinner. But this one had me at “ciao.” The nose transported me back to my mother’s kitchen when I was eight years old and she was baking mincemeat pie. Upon first taste, the precisely-balanced notes of currant and toast and black cherry filled my senses. It paired perfectly with the Italian cheese wrapped in paper-thin prosciutto that she had generously brought in a little picnic basket to accompany the tasting. I had never experienced any dessert wine selection this delicious—not ever. I closed my eyes, I threw my head back and moaned. I took another sip and let it swirl over the front and back of my tongue. I looked over at Cory and he looked at me as if we had both been huddling in a cave rubbing sticks together and one of us had just noticed a cigarette lighter in the corner. This was the taste that every civilized palate hopes to find some day. We absolutely had to have this wine.
“What is the front line on this one?” Cory coolly inquired. (The “front line” is the cost per bottle to the restaurant, prior to the markup for the menu.) She told us, and believe me, it wasn’t cheap—it essentially eclipsed all of our menu wine prices—yikes! Cory raised an eyebrow at me. He wanted it and so did I, but at that price, we would need to be careful with inventory. “Perhaps we will hold off on this one until the fall and holiday season, when we know it will move fast,” I said. “No problem,” she replied. “ I promise, I will have it for you when you’re ready. In the meantime, let me pour you some more before I go.” Oh, yummy. Yes, please, let it flow.
A few minutes later, the lady had packed her selections and made a copy of our liquor license and set up a delivery date. Before departure, she turned and said, “Oh, one more thing. I wondered if you have a PA system here. I would like to play something for you.” I mentally rolled my eyes. People are always trying to slip us the demo records of their cousin, their client, their sister, their husband….anything to get a chance at a show. And we listen to everything…everything, because music is our business and we want to discover the absolute best. And we will always tell you what we think. As you can imagine, very few rise to the top of the heap, so to speak. “Um, sure….Shawn will show you where to plug in.” I had another sip of wine. Cory grimaced, and shot me a look that clearly conveyed, “If this sucks, let her down easy so that it doesn’t mess up my wine list!”
In the next moments, the earth stood still. The decadently delicious soiree going on in my mouth was accompanied by the sound of a woman singing jazz standards beautifully, in elegantly simple arrangements that would remind you of Diana Krall, complimented by warm and rich notes, and yet, with a luminous clarity reminiscent of Karen Carpenter.

Listen HERE:

I had never heard this voice before. How could I have missed this star? Shame on me! “Whose CD is this?” I asked. She sat…still… looking down at her fingers, and then up at me. “It’s me, “she quietly answered. “Huh? “ I stared at her in disbelief. “Are you kidding me? With a talent like this, what are you doing selling wine?!?” I asked. “I enjoy selling wine,” she stated. “I enjoy presenting wine. I enjoy traveling to Italy, finding the best wines and the most inspiring winemakers, and introducing them to fellow wine enthusiasts. And I also love to sing.”
I looked over at Cory and he could see my booking agent/talent scout meter skipping off the grid. He silently mouthed to me, “Down, girl,” and kicked me under the table. I leaned back in my chair and took a deep breath. “Do you know how many auditions I would have to sit through before coming across a voice like yours? Let me ask the question another way. Why aren’t you performing on a regular basis? Why haven’t I heard of you? Why are you sitting on this extraordinary talent?” I leaned across the table, “If you love singing, what in the world are you waiting for, my Dear?” She thought about it for a moment. “I could give you a million reasons why, starting my business, raising my children, but it all comes down to the fact that I’ve been waiting to do it my way….waiting for my time. And this feels like my time.”
We talked for what seemed like hours. She shared her story and I shared mine. “We’re a lot alike,” she observed. This wasn’t a typical wine tasting or audition—it was a special connection. When she got up to leave, she shared one of her favorite quotes by Francis Mayes, “They say they built the train tracks over the Alps before there was a train that could make the trip. They built it anyway. They knew one day the train would come. Any arbitrary turning along the way, and I would be elsewhere. I would be different…..Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game.”
And this, in a nutshell, is the story of how we came to know the extraordinary talent and person that is Debbie Tyson Rosen. Debbie will perform at The Velvet Note on Saturday, September 21st, with shows at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. She will be accompanied by highly-respected musicians (Randy Hoexter on piano, Jess Rosen on guitar, Rob Henson on bass and Kenyon Carter on Saxophone), forming a beautiful jazz quintet. She is soulful and sweet and smart and this is her time– run, do not walk, to our box office and make a reservation for one of the only 40 seats available in each show. You should bring the person you love, or the person you would like to love. Oh, and save room on your palate because we will be serving her wines, too. Tickets available at http://thevelvetnote.com/debbie-rosen

Uncategorized | August 1, 2013

Churchill Grounds and the Atlanta Jazz Horizon

ChurchillWhisperChurchill Grounds’ Whisper Room closed yesterday.  (See article HERE) The Whisper Room was Churchill’s listening room that seated 150 or so patrons, and played host to their jazz performances for the past several years.  Several people have asked me what I think of this event, implying that it is some sort of competitive triumph or a bad omen of things to come.  Although I do not know the owner personally, and I do not know the details surrounding this event, here are my thoughts:

I think that any metropolitan area  and its patrons, musicians, venue owners, etc. benefits from a broad array of locations in which to enjoy great music. I think that Atlanta has a rich, diverse, passionate, talented and vibrant jazz community and I am proud to be both a contributor and a beneficiary.  Read the rest here »

News | June 5, 2013

The Velvet Note Celebrates One Year!

It’s hard to imagine that it’s been an entire year since we opened our doors here at The Velvet Note.  Over the past twelve months, we have been pleased and honored to bring fresh, high-quality entertainment to our guests, and we look forward to doing so for many years to come.  Recently, the stars aligned to celebrate The Velvet Note’s anniversary and reflect on their experience in performing with us:

Joe Gransden, Trumpeter, Vocalist and Big Band Leader:
“I love performing at The Velvet Note. The sound and the ambiance areperfect!  It’s an amazing atmosphere in which to create music.  The Velvet Note is, by far, one of my favorite jazz clubs in the country.”

Read the rest here »

Uncategorized | April 9, 2013

A Food Review of The Velvet Note

By VelvetVoyce, Publisher/Reviewer of SoundBites

So as I was cruising through my social media outlets one day I received a message (PMs I think they’re called) from this swank and really cool jazz venue in Alpharetta, GA named ‘The Velvet Note’. I had been there once before when they first opened up to see trumpeter Mark Rapp and instantly liked the place.  And once I saw they were bringing singer Sachal Vasandani back to Atlanta, I knew I had no choice but to head back  sooner than later!

To my surprise the message asked if I could come to the show as the Chef wanted me to taste their menu. He apparently noticed I have an appreciation for good food and wanted my opinion on their selections. I have to be honest with you, the message made my day.  I call myself a ‘wannabe foodie’ because I don’t think I’ve earned all my ‘true foodie’ stars and stripes so to have a real Chef  want my opinion on THEIR food was an honor.  So I marked my calendar for Saturday night and looked forward to a meeting with my two loves: food and music.
Read the rest here »

News | February 22, 2013

Velvet Note Featured in Atlanta Journal-Constitution Article

Alvin Stone and band Red Shift - Photo credit CURTIS COMPTON / AJC

The Velvet note was featured in an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently. The article discusses the origin, design and experience here along with interviews and photos.

Stuck in the middle of a strip center on Old Milton Parkway, in a narrow storefront that was once home to a yogurt shop, The Velvet Note is a straight-ahead jazz club in a place you might least expect to find one.

But its location and design are anything but random. Owner and general manager Tamara Fuller said she chose suburban Alpharetta based on demographics, including median income and education.

Read the rest here »


Uncategorized | February 16, 2013

Review: Monica Spears at The Velvet Note

* * * * 1/2      (4.5 Stars out of 5)

By Michael Lane, Staff Reviewer

If there ever was a hard-pressed follow-up performance in the music industry, it certainly comes on the heels of Valentine’s Day.  Even with vocalist Monica Spears in the company of her band, this is no small feat.  But just as the love of Valentine’s Day carries over, so does the euphoria, and for this show, it was a delicious, metaphorical icing on the cake.

Bassist John Roberts stole the first song with his vivid midsection solo that culminated into a wonderfully-syncopated musical painting of a dozen different bright colors.  Monica’s voice rose above the song’s arrangement and lovingly caressed all forty audience members like a hand to a cheek.  Her stage presence was low-key, as the most complex acts tend to be.  Not one note, vocally or instrumentally, was out of place tonight, a sign of meticulous preparation and focus.
Read the rest here »

Uncategorized | February 15, 2013

Review: Joe Gransden and Kenny Banks at The Velvet Note

* * * * * (5 out of 5 stars)

By Michael Lane, Staff Reviewer

Perhaps you’ve noticed that on Valentine’s Day, everything is better in pairs.  Two people combining their love.  Two drinks sipped in unison, and two sets of eyes gazing ever-so-lovingly into one another’s.  Couple this with the musical pairing of Joe Gransden (trumpet, vox) and Kenny Banks (piano) and you have a most desirable night of delight. 

Both established performers in their own right, they waste not one moment as they cruise through a spirited show.  Kenny Banks is easily one of the world’s most talented jazz pianists, softly caressing every ivory key with both precision and flair.  Most performers have one and not the other, but Kenny achieves both so easily, it is as if he is simply breathing or blinking.  Joe and Kenny–not only joyously, but with style–breeze through their opening number as the crowd radiates happiness and comfort, pretty standard fare at The Velvet Note. 
Read the rest here »

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