Sep 9, 2022
After several weeks of bad news in the jazz world, driven by the untimely deaths of Jaimie Branch and Joey DeFrancesco, a little sunshine has appeared. After two years were spent reorienting to the pandemic with modified operations including livestreams, sidewalk concerts, and outdoor dining, Smoke Jazz Club made a long-awaited return as a world-renowned full-time destination earlier this month. The revered Manhattan institution has undertaken an impressive expansion and renovation that readies itfor the post-pandemic 21st century. And signing a thirty year lease extension doesn't hurt either.
Despite being closed to indoor performances and dining for over two years, Smoke has survived and doesn't seem to have missed a beat in its musical presentations. A new, separate lounge and enlarged stage will make performances even more memorable from this point forward. Husband and wife co-owners Paul Stache and Molly Sparrow Johnson have much to be proud of.
The club was first opened on April 9, 1999 by co-founders Stache
and Frank Christopher, taking over the space that had been Augie's
Jazz Bar for 25 years. Since then, not only have Stache and Ms.
Johnson operated and grown Smoke for jazz performance, they also
have also have created a Grammy-nominated label, Smoke
Sessions Records, and a celebrated streaming
concert series, Smoke Screens.
Podcast 933 is my conversation with Paul Stache, as we talk about the long road to Smoke's reopening, the elements of its expansion and plans for the future.