From halfway down the block, you can hear the drums, a thumping bass and a piano tinkling a jazz riff. The sound is coming from the Lucky Lady Pub, which isn’t really known for its jazz activity.
It’s Monday night and Juneau Jazz and Classics is on its 11th straight day of performances. While the festival is known for bringing their musicians to unlikely venues like churches and classrooms, sometimes they take their audiences to places that are really off the traditional music circuit. The festival transformed the South Franklin pub into a full-on jazz club during an evening jam hosted by the Anton Schwartz Quartet.
Inside the bar it’s standing room only. People are lined up halfway out the door and the Seattle-based Anton Schwartz leads his four piece in a lively jazz number. Spectators hoot and holler, talking over the music and enjoying themselves. At the end of the song the tenor saxophone player does something different, he opens the floor to the audience, inviting any local musicians to join the band.
Bobby Reynolds, 75, is ready to play with his velvet red fedora and brass cornet, an instrument that looks like a misshaped trumpet. Schwartz and Reynolds conspire in whispered voices. Before tonight, the pair had never met. Schwartz says it’s exciting because he doesn’t know where the jam will go.
“That’s part of the fun, you never know what’s going to happen and one of the nice things about jazz is that you have this shared body of knowledge. And you can just put it to work to play with people you’ve never worked with before, ” said Schwartz.
People like Reynolds, whose main gig is at the Red Dog Saloon where he plays Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles and Sinatra. Back in town for his sixth summer, Reynolds was eager to show off his chops he’s picked up after years of playing on cruise ships and touring.
“In a town like Juneau to hear this kind of music, wow, ya’know that’s really great. This is a really great band in here. Holy jeez, there’s not this kinda stuff going on in lots of places,” said Reynolds.
For the new owner of the Lucky Lady, Mark Erickson, this show has introduced a new crowd to his bar he hopes will come back.
“That’s what I’m designing the bar for. I want this type of crowd to come to my bar,” said Erickson.
See the Anton Schwartz Quartet on Friday before the Juneau Jazz and Classics grand finale Saturday night.