Friday, July 04, 2014

Mark Redmond: A curator of jazz at The Green Room in Somerville.

Jazz at Somerville's Green Room

Mark Redmond: A curator of jazz at The Green Room in Somerville.

Mark Redmond looks more like a lumberjack than a jazz aficionado.  This tall, imposing man with a thick beard joined me at my usual table in the back of the Bloc11 Café in Union Square to talk about his relatively new series: “Jazz at The Green Room.” The Green Room is at 62 Bow St. in Union Square and was founded by Somerville musicians and vocalists Michael and Anney Barrett. The space, according to Redmond, was a former dry cleaning establishment. It hosts a variety of events that lean toward the classical side, but not exclusively.

Redmond said Union Square Somerville is a great place for his venue. The Green Room is an “intimate” space which Redmond feels is a perfect fit for the intimate art of jazz. He likes the vibrant scene here in Somerville, with places like Sally O’Brien’s, Bull McCabe's, P.A.’s Lounge  and others in close proximity. “All these places cater to a variety of musical tastes,” Redmond said.

Redmond told me that his series started in late November of last year. He has hosted many jazz musicians, including a number from Somerville.  Garrison Fewell, a Somerville resident and a noted jazz guitarist and educator, as well as Somerville denizen Jean-marie-Corrois, an accomplished drummer, have been on stage. Another Somerville resident of note is saxophonist Russ Gershon, founder of the famed Either/Orchestra and impresario of the Accurate Records label. He and the pianist Rusty Scott played for Redmond and said of the experience: “The Green Room is like a nano-concert hall—intimate, creative, great sound and good piano.” Other musicians of note who have featured there are Bert Seager, who teaches at the New England Conservatory, as well as Somerville vocalist Laura Grill, who recently appeared at Somerville’s Joe’s Jazz & Blues Festival.  Matt Glaser, a violinist who directed the string department at Berklee for decades and founded their American Roots Music department, will bring a trio in the fall.

Redmond told me he has had a long love affair with jazz. He used to listen to his father’s albums when he was a kid. He listed some of his early influences as: Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Bill Evans and other classics. I asked Redmond about the genres of jazz has he hosted. He said: “I’ve booked folks who play straight-ahead traditional jazz, avant garde stuff, bebop, Gypsy Jazz. I like a variety of music—I like the energy and creativity it brings.”

Before the interview I did a little research on Redmond. I noticed he works as an existentially-oriented psychotherapist.  Visions of Sartre, the meaningless of existence, and the connection to jazz ran through my pretentious head.  But Redmond, a straight-no-chaser sort of guy, said: “I don’t know about the connection between the two, but live music, that sacred place in time, the energy, the movement, is a vital element for me.”

The good news is that The Green Room is owned by the Barretts—so when the gentrification of Union Square is complete they won’t be forced out by the skyrocketing rents that will displace many others.

Redmond has several events scheduled this summer and into the fall. They are usually held on weekend  evenings, and the admission is ten dollars. To find out more about his series:

 Jazz at The Green Room

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