Review: Winter’s Jazz Club celebrates a virtual 4th anniversary: ‘We need music in our lives now more than ever’

Chicago Tribune

By Howard Reich

November, 15, 2020

Jazz musicians often become quite attached to a particular club, taking the stage so frequently that it becomes a kind of artistic home.

That truism was apparent again on Saturday evening, when several accomplished Chicago performers – as well as some out-of-towners – paid online homage to the fourth anniversary of Winter’s Jazz Club (which opened Nov. 15, 2016, at 465 N. McClurg Court)………..

Jeremy Kahn, a versatile Chicago pianist, retitled his first solo piano selection “Winter’s Wonderland,” in honor of the venue. Kahn’s characteristically elegant pianism said a great deal about the value of understatement; ditto his version of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” (which Kahn said had been requested by Stegman).

Then Kahn looked into the camera to share a few thoughts.

“To Scott and the staff at Winter’s, I say this to you, and only to you: Four more years. Four more years,” said Kahn………


What’s it like as COVID-19 Phase 4 allows jazz clubs like Andy’s to reopen
Howard Reich
JUL 02, 2020 AT 9:05 AM

When Chicago guitarist Andy Brown headed out for his gig Wednesday night at Andy’s Jazz Club, he realized he’d forgotten something.

“I was so excited as I walked out of my house, I was halfway to my garage when I realized” what he had left behind, Brown told the audience during his first set.

“My guitar.”

So he rushed back inside to get it.

That’s what happens when you haven’t played a concert gig in 3-1/2 months.

But Brown and his bandmates – pianist Jeremy Kahn and bassist Joe Policastro – clearly have been practicing during the shutdown, judging by their exuberant performance at Andy’s, which reopened last weekend. Each instrumentalist packed so much melodic content and rhythmic drive into their solos, it sounded as if they were unleashing a torrent of pent-up musicality. Which, of course, they were.

“I was sort of planning for this period,” said Brown in an interview. “The game hadn’t even begun till this past weekend,” when Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan allowed clubs to reopen at 25% occupancy.

“Before, the game was on pause. As of June 26 … game on! I’m feeling really excited, I’m feeling really happy. I’ve been working like an athlete … but nothing can be like the real deal.”

Just before the first set, pianist Kahn said he had “mixed emotions” about venturing into a club to perform for an audience for the first time since the pandemic started. There’s a certain degree of risk involved, though surely less than, say, going to a grocery store, considering the limitations on audience size.

“But this is what I love to do,” Kahn added. “So that side of me has won out.”

Not that Brown and Kahn have been idle during the shutdown. Brown has been livestreaming performances with singer Petra van Nuis, his wife. Kahn has been performing with Chicago jazz musicians on his front porch.

But in jazz, the club performance is what it’s all about.

As the musicians took the stage, the sound system was playing a most appropriate single: Frank Sinatra’s recording of “It Started All Over Again.”

Then someone turned down the dial, and Brown’s trio launched into Django Reinhardt’s “Douce Ambiance” in a full-bodied, rhythmically buoyant fashion. The band sounded big and brawny, notwithstanding the plexiglass shield at the front of the stage. Kahn’s characteristically fat chords buoyed Brown’s saucy phrases and easy-breezy tempo. “All right, we remembered that after three months!” Brown exulted after the first tune ended.

So it went in this wholly extroverted set, the trio taking a muscular approach to Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Favela,” tapping deeply felt sentiments in Pee Wee Russell’s “Pee Wee’s Blues,” and throwing off fast flurries of notes in Joe Pass’ “Catch Me.”

Everything, in other words, was bigger, faster or slower, bolder and bluer than on an ordinary night.

The audience was small – just about a dozen listeners – for the opening set, but these musicians played as if they were making their debuts in Carnegie Hall.

That’s how a comeback ought to sound.

Andy’s Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St., is open for music and dining Wednesdays through Sundays; phone 312-642-6805 or visit

Howard Reich is a Tribune critic.


Classic recording by the Chicago’s guitar maestro’s quartet
It was clear that there is a good reason why the records by guitarist Andy Brown tend to get good reviews which became apparent when I first heard this CD that I bought as a present for my Dad who introduced my to jazz in the 1980’s when I was a teenager. Back then, one of his favourite bands was the “Great Guitars” group that featured Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd. At the time they sounded pretty good but discovering the likes of Frisell, Abercrombie, Scofield and Metheny afterwards steered me away from the mainstream. All of a sudden, this kind of jazz quickly became passe and it was clear that the newer generation of players was much better equipped technically. As a result, I had lost contact with more mainstream styles of jazz guitar although I had dabbled with the likes of Russell Malone who sounded like he was picking up the baton. It is probably a gross understatement to say that Andy Brown is another mainstream guitarist who is producing quality jazz in a more mainstream idiom which is increasingly becoming a rarity. On the playing of this record, he deserves to be far better known and appreciated. Andy Brown’s “Direct Call” is the kind of record that neatly illustrates just how far the jazz mainstream has developed in the intervening years but also demonstrative of the lopsided contemporary jazz scene where Andy Brown remains a somewhat cult figure beloved of aficionados yet overlooked by most jazz fans. He is exactly the kind of player that you will rave about once you have heard him the first time, Everything about “Direct call” seems to be just right. This record features Brown’s working quartet with pianist Jeremy Kahn , bassist Joe Policastro and drummer Phil Gratteau. Featuring a wide range of material from a version of Django’s “Appel Direct” which pings all over the place harmonically, a couple of Latin numbers and a witty version of “One Morning In May,” the clever arrangements ensure that this record transcends a simple blowing session. It is infused with musical intelligence and savvy harmonic ideas. From the opening bars of “The Jeep Is Jumpin'” it is was pretty clear that this is a really great band . Not only are the arrangements very crafted but the leader has a beautiful tone on his guitar and the interplay with the piano recalls the joined at the hip logic of Les Paul and Nat Cole. In fact, the pianist Kahn is a joy to listen to, a fountain of creativity. I have been really impressed by this record which is a little masterpiece. The bass and drums provide the perfect bedrock for the main soloists. It is strange that the likes of Ellis, Kessel and Byrd still enjoy a reputation whereas contemporary jazz guitar now covers a multitude of influences and sounds nothing like Great Guitars. There don’t seem to be too many guitarists who rely on pure tone or who dispense with technology that have grabbed my attention when I first thought that Great Guitars were offering an original approach to Chamber Jazz. Consequently, I have felt that it has been really difficult to make mainstream jazz guitar sound as compelling as say John Scofield or Bill Frisell. In my opinion, the mainstream still has a relevance but records like this one really make the use of categorisation nonsense as it is just brilliant music played by four musicians whose understanding knocks spots off so many of their more illustrious contemporaries. The more you listen, the more music you realise there is on this record. I like this record just as much as anything recently produced Scofield or Metheny. Of late, I have been looking towards newer guitarists like Jeff Parker and Mary Halvorson to see where the instrument is going. I would serious add this quartet to that list of new and interest guitarists , not only because Brown is so impressive as a soloist but also for the fact this is an absolutely World Class quartet. Great jazz is timeless. Delmark has frequently been my “go to” record label for contemporary jazz and this disc maintains the standard. This is easily one of the best albums of 2016 in what has already been a really strong years with records by the likes of Eric Friedlander, Greg Ward, Kenny Barrons and Jason Adasiewizc / Keefe Jackson. My Dad was suitably impressed too. Delmark will be committing a crime if they do not allow the fabulous quartet to record again. Impossible not to give the record less than five stars.
Ian Thumwood
From comments on Amazon


From the Oak Leaves; January, 2020

an interview with Jeremy Kahn

Piano man, Jeremy Kahn, is a cool jazz cat and a tremendous asset….

Marilyn Lester; Nite Life Exchange (NYC); 5/1/18

Chicago pianist Jeremy Kahn tends to bring historical insights into his work, at the keyboard and in spoken word, often graced with considerable wit. This time he’ll perform songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Cole Porter in a show whimsically titled “Brazil Meets Peru (Indiana)”, the latter a reference to the tiny Hoosier town where Porter was born and where he is buried. In between those  years, Porter personified the big-city sophisticate, as his songs attest. That makes Porter a natural complement to Jobim, who similarly reveled in erudite harmonic concepts and pervasive melodic elegance, albeit with a South American lilt. Kahn will be joined by trombonist Andy Baker, (bassist Dennis Carroll) and drummer Phil Gratteau.

Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune 12/29/17 (previewing a show at Winter’s Jazz Club)

The Chicago pianist makes it look easy, but what he does decidedly is not. The fluidity, sleekness and invention of Kahn’s pianism helps explain why so many vocalists and ensembles seek his contributions.

Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune 6/30/17


I said that you were a master of assertion and restraint. You have an uncanny sense of how to refresh interest and when to do it.
In other words, you know when to get off the bus. You never “turn the faucet on.”

David Bloom, Bloom School of Music

kahn and million
Steve Million, left, and Jeremy Kahn perform Aug. 29, 2016, as Double Monk at PianoForte Studios in Chicago. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

Howard ReichContact Reporter

What a buoyant way to begin Chicago Jazz Festival week.

Though the 38th annual event doesn’t start officially until Thursday, Monday evening’s performance by pianists Steve Million and Jeremy Kahn at PianoForte Studios, on South Michigan Avenue, served as a rousing curtain-raiser.

To hear two top-notch Chicago jazz pianists playing a couple of superb grand pianos in an intimate room certainly set expectations high for the rest of the week. The standing-room-only crowd suggested that audiences are eager to attend festival-related events outside Millennium Park, where the bulk of Chicago Jazz Festival performances will take place Thursday through Sunday.

Though first-rate indoor events always have been in far too short supply at this festival, Million and Kahn showed how much these performances can contribute. For over the course of a single hour, the duo that calls itself Double Monk offered richly detailed, carefully considered yet cleverly improvised versions of classics and obscurities by Thelonious Monk.

One rarely hears this music played in this context, the duo illuminating the intricacies of Monk’s scores while veering far from the originals.

Even before Million and Kahn played a note, however, prominent Chicago broadcaster Richard Steele offered a few mercifully brief remarks in a concert broadcast live over WDCB-FM 90.9.

“Obviously, you know that Thelonious Monk wrote more than ‘Round Midnight,'” Steele told the audience, which was about to hear how much more.

The duo opened the concert with Monk’s “Bye-Ya,” the pianists instantly telegraphing why they’ve decided to band together: They share an intrinsic sense of time. The ker-plunk effect that mars many a piano duo — jazz and classical alike — was nowhere to be heard here. This was all the more impressive a feat considering the rhythmically elusive nature of Monk’s music, which generally thrives on unexpected pauses, abrupt interjections and relentless syncopation.

None of that threw Double Monk, which in some moments sounded as if 176 keys were being played on a single massive instrument.

Even so, it didn’t take long to discern the distinctions between Million’s pianism and Kahn’s, particularly in solos. In essence, Million produced a sharper-edged tone and more angular turns of phrase, Kahn a rounded timbre and silvery touch. Put the two together, and you have a deeply satisfying sound and practically relentless musical action.

Some of the evening’s most inspired music-making emerged in Monk’s “Ugly Beauty,” Million and Kahn opening with gauzy tone evoking the piano music of Claude Debussy, albeit with even more ambiguous harmony. As the main theme emerged from the mists of sound, it seemed to float above a swirl of color. Million’s characteristic melodic inventiveness and Kahn’s blues-tinged expression made for an “Ugly Beauty” unlike others.

The pianists got a lot grittier in Monk’s “Criss Cross,” Million dispatching fat chord clusters and brilliant figurations while Kahn churned out a hard-driving, vamping accompaniment. The two switched roles in the Monk rarity “Oska T.,” Kahn unreeling slow-and-slinky blues lines against Million’s ostinato.

Of course each player offered an extended solo piece, Million digging deeply into the way Monk thought about harmony and dissonance in “Work.” The astringency of Million’s chord structures and the intelligence with which he developed Monk’s themes said a great deal about the seriousness of this venture. Kahn turned in some of his most technically accomplished playing in Monk’s “Trinkle, Tinkle,” reveling in the sharp dissonance and putting the main motif through its paces.

When the two pianists “traded fours,” as jazz musicians refer to a series of alternating solos, in “Jackie-ing,” they exchanged musical ideas in rapid-fire fashion.

They never did get around to playing “‘Round Midnight,” though judging by the creativity of the rest of the performance, it could have been quite something to hear.

Maybe next time.



“Of the many moods and moments, check out the sympatico counterpoint between the leader and pianist Jeremy Kahn on “One Morning In May” and (Kahn’s) hipness with chords on “Freak Of The Week.” Michael Jackson, Downbeat Magazine review (four stars); 10/2016

“Jeremy Kahn’s piano accompaniment is swinging and precise. Kahn’s solo on the title track is poignant and masterful.” Devin “Doc” Wendell, blog.

“….Jeremy Kahn, a superb pianist whose creds are as impressive as his improvisation.” Jim Carlton, 2016. From the liner notes of “Direct Call”; Andy Brown Quartet; Delmark Records 5023

“Kahn crafts a spicy monologue on Hank Mobley’s ‘Funk In Deep Freeze.'”

“Johnny Mandel’s…. ‘El Cajon’….ultimately proves a splendid showcase for Kahn.” Mike Joyce. Jazztimes, August 2016

“Pianist Jeremy Kahn…..merits ample solo space” Dan Forte, Vintage Guitar Magazine, August 2016


“Jeremy Kahn conducts the amazing onstage band….” Shari Barrett, Culver City News, January 2016 (From “Louis & Keely Live At The Sarah”: Geffen Theater)

Young guys attract old dolls in Pal Joey

Rodgers and Hart’s 1940 musical, now in a new revival by Porchlight Music Theatre, pushed Broadway’s buttons—and its boundaries.

By Albert Williams

“Doug Peck’s musical direction reflects the story’s squalor with tinny trumpet and heavy-handed drums (though pianist Jeremy Kahn’s preshow riffs on Rodgers and Hart standards are sublime);” … Read the review

Blazing ‘Mikado’: Long may it swing

THEATER REVIEW | Drury Lane’s firecracker version is sexy, soulful

…..with peony-pink folding fans (one hiding the superb band led by Jeremy Kahn), plus an array of zoot-suited gents ….read the review from the Chicago Sun Times


Faddis’ CJE kicks sound, performances up a notch

by Howard Reich – Tribune Critic

So why has the CJE kicked into high gear?
For starters, Faddis has been tinkering with the personnel, engaging Jeremy Kahn, for instance, as pianist (he played an exquisitely Impressionistic solo on Ellington’s “The Single Petal of a Rose” during Friday night’s concert); and promoting drummer Dana Hall, an accomplished technician and rigorously serious artist, to music director. With these and other staffing choices, Faddis is making Russo’s band his own, and it shows.
Read whole article

Chicago pianist overcomes illness and ‘Wicked’ ways

by Howard Reich – Tribune Critic –  Go to article source

Hobgood, Kahn display strokes of brilliance

By Howard Reich
Tribune Critic

Chicago has been nurturing great jazz pianists for roughly a century, and two of the best of them held center stage over the week-end.

Now it’s true that veteran Chicago pianist Jeremy Kahn usually doesn’t go nearly so far out on a limb as Hobgood. But Kahn works the musical mainstream with elegance and èlan, as he did early Friday night at Andy’s Jazz Club. Performing in a trio setting, Kahn produced long, silvery lines in “Prelude to a Kiss” and an appealingly laconic romanticism in “Dancing in the Dark.”

If you think playing the standard repertory this seamlessly is easy, try it sometime.

September 11, 2007

Jeremy Kahn’s Threepenny Opera – from

Bertholt Brecht and Kurt Weill gave the world The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) in 1928. When it was running in Berlin, the artist George Grosz said, “You would hear those songs wherever you went in the evening.” Long before Louis Armstrong made “Mack the Knife” a universal hit, theater critics were calling The Threepenny Opera the greatest musical of all time. Walter Kerr wrote, “I think the most wonderfully insulting music I have ever come across was composed by the late Kurt Weill for Bert Brecht’s Threepenny Opera.” The producer Harold Prince said, “Many have tried to imitate it. No one has succeeded.”

From the Threepenny Opera web site:

In their opera “by and for beggars,” composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950) and playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) transformed saccharine, old-fashioned opera and operetta forms, incorporating a sharp political perspective and the sound of 1920s Berlin dance bands and cabaret. Weill’s acid harmonies and Brecht’s biting texts created a revolutionary new musical theater that inspired such subsequent hits as Cabaret, Chicago, and Urinetown. The show’s opening number, “Mack the Knife,” became one of the top popular songs of the century.

The opening night audience at Berlin’s Theater am Schiffbauerdamm didn’t quite know what to expect when the curtain rose on The Threepenny Opera on August 31, 1928, but after the first few musical numbers they began to cheer and call for encores. The show was a brilliant hit, and Threepenny-fever spread throughout Europe, generating forty-six stage productions of the work in the first year after the Berlin premiere. In 1931, a film version directed by G.W. Pabst entitled Die 3-Groschenoper opened, making an international star of Weill’s wife, Lotte Lenya, who repeated her portrayal of Jenny Diver from the show’s first production.

Dozens of jazz artists have recorded “Mack the Knife.” Gil Evans gave us memorable impressions of “Bilbao Song” and “Barbara Song.” Once in a great while someone with esoteric tastes tackles “Pirate Jenny” or “Love Song.” Still, for all its riches and potential for interpretation, until recently there have been, to my knowledge, only two entire jazz albums of music from the score of this twentieth century milestone, both on long-playing vinyl. One was by the Australian Jazz Quartet (Bethlehem Records, 1958, long out of print). The other was by pianist André Previn and trombonist J.J. Johnson with bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Frank Capp, recorded for Columbia in 1960. Despite the material and the big names, this superb album, at once lively and mordant, has never been reissued on CD. If you’re lucky, you might snag a copy of the LP on e-bay or elsewhere on the internet.

The relatively new (2005) album of music from The Threepenny Opera came to my attention by chance when the Chicago pianist Jeremy Kahn sent Rifftides a comment about something else entirely. I looked him up on the web, found his site, and discovered that he and his quartet had a CD called Most Of a Nickel: Music From The Threepenny Opera. I listened to the samples and arranged to get a copy. I have been listening to it for days. Kahn and his colleagues find both the acid bitterness and the subtle beauty of Weill’s music and, by extension, the mocking parody of Brecht’s story. Even if you knew nothing about the background of the music, I think you would be captured by the bittersweet tango of “Ballad of Immoral Earnings;” the understated longing of Jim Gailloreto’s tenor saxophone in “Love Song;” the delicacy of his flute in “Solomon Song;” “Cannon Song’s” intimations of joy, with hints of militarism from Eric Montzka’ drums; the forthrightness of “Barbara Song.” There are three short versions of “Mack The Knife,” one devoted to Kahn’s piano, its voicings rich with minor key irony; one for Gilloreto, who conjures an unaccompanied solo fantasy on the song’s primary phrase without once resorting to quoting Sonny Rollins; one for Larry Kohut’s bass, also unaccompanied.

Some CDs are too long. This one is too short. It has eleven of the twenty-four pieces in the Weill score. Kahn’s quartet leaves you wanting more from The Threepenny Opera. A second volume would be welcome.

chicago tribune

“One of the more pleasant developments in Chicago music over the past couple years has been the return of pianist Jeremy Kahn, who grew up in this area but eventually migrated to New York. For those who haven’t had a chance to hear Kahn live since his return, his debut CD will help explain why he has become one of the busiest jazz keyboardists in town. Every track on this CD documents the intelligence of Kahn’s pianism and arranging, from his suavely stated reading of Gershwin’s ‘There’s a Boat That’s Leaving Soon For New York’ to his rhythmically puckish account of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Trinkle, Tinkle’. The title track stands as the recording’s centerpiece, and Kahn makes much more of Fats Waller’s ‘Jitterbug Waltz’ than one might expect, repeatedly changing meters and shrewdly reharmonizing the tune. Leading a trio throughout, Kahn announces himself as a pianist of considerable accomplishment and even greater potential.”

Howard Reich, The Chicago Tribune


ny times

“Jeremy Kahn . . . gives the songs a taut, springy effervescence.”

Steven Holden, The New York Times

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“The rhythmic joy that the trio puts into its songs is . . . raised a notch when Jeremy Kahn . . . steps out in a jumping solo that takes on an exuberant life of its own.”
John S. Wilson, The New York Times



“You go to the Gold Star Sardine Bar for one reason and one reason only – to listen to a great jazz, including the Jeremy Kahn trio.”

Barbara Vitello, Chicago Daily Herald


“Piano man Jeremy Kahn has plied his trade in the bars and lounges of Boston and New York as well as his hometown, Chicago. While for some ticklers that’s life in hell, Kahn seems to have used his residencies to build up a broad repertoire–on a 1995 trio CD he mixes Mingus, Shorter, Weill, and
Beiderbecke– and to stock the depths below the music’s placid surface with all sorts of fish, from quietly altered blues licks to chromium chords and terse asides to serpentine left-hand bass lines that unexpectedly take over. Get a seat up front if you really want to catch any of them.”
Kevin Whitehead, Chicago Reader.

“…with the superb…trio (Jeremy Kahn on piano, Tim Davis on drums and Larry Kohut on bass)…”
—-Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Kahn is . . . a rare and gifted pianist.”

Dennis Polkow, The Chicago Tribune
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“(Jeremy’s) . . . CD is delightful. (He plays) . . . the piano beautifully, with a high degree of musicality and lots of imagination.”

Pianist and composer Roger Kellaway
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Kahn evince(s) aspects of Red Garland and Bill Evans.”

Zan Stewart, Down Beat

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Kahn’s richly chorded and rhythmically inventive piano is outstanding . . .”

Hugh Rainey, Jazz Journal International
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

New York’s loss has been Chicago’s gain in the case of Jeremy Kahn, the splendid jazz pianist who (has) moved back to his hometown . . .
. . . Kahn has been busily working in a variety of Chicago bands and theatrical productions, all of which have attested to his versatility as an improvising musician.
But the stint that Kahn is playing at the Gold Star Sardine Bar . . . may be his best local engagement to date, and not only because of the intimate ambience of the room.
More important, Kahn is leading what has to be one of the most cohesive and persuasive jazz trios in the city. With warm and meticulous support from drummer Joel Spencer and bassist Larry Kohut, Kahn has begun establishing himself as a distinctive voice.
In every selection he played Friday night, Kahn offered a degree of subtlety, elegance, and understatement one does not encounter often enough. Here’s the rare pianist who prefers to address both his audience and his instrument with delicacy rather than bombast, with carefully articulated voicings rather than grandiosely stated chords.
The tonal beauty he brought to ‘My Romance’, the unusual harmonies he explored in Bobby Hutchenson’s ‘’Til Then’, the whispering and ethereal pianism he produced in ‘It’s Easy to Remember’ distinguished this set.
So did Kahn’s reading of three tunes from Gershwin’s ‘Porgy and Bess’. Though the pianist introduced this as a medley, the dramatic sweep of the performance and the sophistication of the transitional material suggested the weight of a suite or a tone poem for jazz trio.
By shrewdly reharmonizing ‘I Loves You, Porgy’, freely altering rhythms on ‘My Man’s Gone Now’ and otherwise rethinking this material, Kahn created a deeply personalized version of Gershwin’s greatest work.
The evening’s other highlight was a fascinating reworking of Duke Ellington’s ‘Rocking in Rhythm’.
Throughout, Kahn approached the keyboard in orchestral terms, his richly imagined pianism underscored by Spencer’s driving rhythms . . . and Kohut’s plush bass lines.
Together, these players yielded the drama and the tonal variety of a larger ensemble, without losing the intimacy that only a piano trio can provide.”

Howard Reich, The Chicago Tribune