2nd Street Jazz (or LAND, as it's otherwise known as) is a Jazz club
and bar located in downtown LA's Little Tokyo. It's an inconspicuous
spot, unassuming, situated on a corner between a couple of sushi restaurants and an American Apparel. Actually, it's very easy to miss. However, it's a spot that has been gathering ample attention not by
flyers or ads, but through word of mouth.
2nd Street Jazz was founded six years ago by former trumpet player and
entrepreneur, Kohei Matsumoto. Kohei was a businessman whose passion
for jazz inspired him to open a jazz club in Little Tokyo. Unfortunately, after having achieved his dream, Kohei passed away. However, his son Koichi soon took over and is keeping his father's vision alive.
The week starts off on Monday night, which tends to be a little tamed. You can find your usual suspects enjoying a cold 24oz. Sapporo and speaking with Koichi or the bartender Lisa, from my hometown of Gardena. On Tuesdays, 2nd Street hosts an open jam session that attracts many of L.A.'s up and coming jazz musicians. Wednesdays are reserved for local Jazz groups playing mostly original compositions. In fact, in the multiple times that I have been there on a Wednesday night, I have yet to witness a single mediocre act.
Other nights are reserved for different events, my favorite night being an amateur night with the participants being some of the regulars from the bar. It's funny, some people will surprise you with their talent and others, well… it's amateur night. It's never boring. The acts cover various musical styles: R&B, rock, samba, hip-hop... etc. Lots of cover songs that range from the musical tastes of Alicia Keys to Michael Franks (remember "Popsicle Toes"? ah… yeah, that one) to Miles Davis.
Having been to Japan twice, this spot reminds me a lot of the night clubs in Tokyo. The neon colors reflecting from the sign, the drinks and the hospitality... flood my mind with memories of Japan. Speaking of hospitality, the people who work there make you feel right at home. They are just as fond of East L.A. oldies as much as they are of Traditional Jazz. (After all, they are on the cusp of where the 1st Street Bridge takes you into East Los Angeles.) It's definitely a far cry from the pretentiousness that comes from clubs west of 2nd Street Jazz. That's what I like about this place -- its homey love mixed with highbrow music. At some point people started to treat jazz as a museum piece and it became more about the past than the present. It's time to bring jazz back to the local scene for a whole new generation to appreciate it.
LAND On 2nd Street is located at 366 E 2nd Street, off the corner of Central and 2nd in Little Tokyo, downtown Los Angeles. Phone#: 213-680-0047
April, 23 2007 - Kai Kurosawa/Vinny Golia's Friday Nite Band
April, 25 2007 - Richard Sears/Harris Eisenstadt CD RELEASE/Phil Fiorio
May 17th De Volada! featuring DJ sets from DJ Luz, DJ Pan Dulce and Gomez Comes Alive!
Every Tuesday: 2nd Street Jazz Jam Session featuring Gary Fukushima, piano; J.P. Maramba, bass; Miles Senzaki, drums. No cover, 1 drink minimum to play.