Singer/pianist Mala Waldron from Roosevelt, performing at The Jazz Loft...

Singer/pianist Mala Waldron from Roosevelt, performing at The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Celebrate Black History Month with a touch of jazz. Every February, The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook puts on its “Acoustic in the Main Room” concert series with a blend of wine and song. Here, live jazz performances are presented as vino is poured in a cozy setting. 

“Every month is Black History Month here. Jazz is a music and tradition that was born from the Black experience and African roots,” says Tom Manuel, president and founder of The Jazz Loft. “We want the evening to be conversational, therefore, the room is set up differently to have a living room feel with no amplification. The audience sits on couches and armchairs with no traditional stage lighting either.” 

MAKING MUSIC

Singer/pianist Mala Waldron, who grew up in Roosevelt, opened the series performing music from Stevie Wonder as well as her father, the late jazz pianist Mal Waldron.

Singer/pianist Mala Waldron, from Roosevelt, performs with Mike Halu on bass...

Singer/pianist Mala Waldron, from Roosevelt, performs with Mike Halu on bass and Tom Manuel on horn at The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

“Billie Holiday is my godmother,” says Waldron. “My father wrote a song with her called ‘Left Alone,’ which is an important part of my set. Performing is a special bond I have with her.” 

Mandolin player Buddy Merriam, of Sound Beach, headlines on Feb. 24 injecting some bluegrass flavor into the program. He will play originals as well as tunes from the father of bluegrass Bill Monroe.

“The blues is a very big part of bluegrass,” says Merriam. “Bill Monroe was heavily influenced by a Black blues guitar player named Arnold Shultz from Kentucky. Monroe claims he was the best blues guitar player that ever lived. Some of Monroe’s best music has that blues flavor in it.” 

Grammy-nominated singer/pianist Nicole Zuraitis,  of Manhattan, brings a blend of contemporary influences such as Sara Bareilles and Billy Joel with classic songwriters like Nat King Cole, Ray Charles and Nina Simone.

“The Jazz Loft is the most fleshed out and iconic jazz museum that we have,” says Zuraitis. “It’s a welcoming community that brings acts from all over the globe to Stony Brook. To me, it feels like family.”

CATCH NEW EXHIBITS

In addition to live performances, there are new jazz themed exhibits spread throughout the facility featuring selections from The Jazz Loft’s 10,000-piece collection of jazz memorabilia. 

“We created a greatest hits of our collection with smaller displays representing more people,” says Manuel. “This year, there are exhibits from Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Arthur Prysock and the first jazz artist to introduce Latin rhythms, Xavier Cugat. We welcome everyone to come on down. There’s always something new to see.” 

WINE TIME

This year, the wine being served will come from Black-owned vineyards and winemakers, all of which are available on Long Island.

“There are over 11,000 winemakers in the United States and less than 1% are Black-owned. We are here to support a population that has been marginalized,” says Laura Landor, director of education and community outreach at The Jazz Loft. “Everyone will get a tasting of each wine we are pouring that night. Then people can choose to buy a glass ($10).” 

On Feb. 24, guests can sip cabernet sauvignon (2018) and Chardonnay (2019) from Longevity Vineyards in California.

“The chardonnay has significant vanilla and coconut notes to it,” says Landor. “Plus, the cabernet has a beautiful dried cherry flavor that is very captivating.” 

On Feb. 25, the wine of LVE (Legend Vineyard Exclusive) will be showcased, which is produced by singer/songwriter John Legend in collaboration with French winemaker Jean-Charles Boisset from Raymond Vineyards in California. 

“This wine is interesting because so much of jazz is collaborative, it’s not just one person doing their thing,” says Landor. “They talk a lot about these wines being in balance with a lot of harmony — rich and soulful. These are very accessible wines that you could enjoy every night.”

There’s also a selection of craft beer ($7-$10), soda ($2), water ($2) and light snacks ($2 — chips, pretzels, cookies) available at each event.

“ACOUSTIC IN THE MAIN ROOM” SERIES 

WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m., Feb. 24 and 25; The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook

ADMISSION $40

INFO 631-751-1895, thejazzloft.org

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