Coming this Month:

The Jazz Beat: May, 2024

Hello, all, and welcome back to this regular column here at Music City Review. Here, we will update you with the most can’t-miss jazz events happening in Music City, so you can be sure to catch all your favorites, as well as discover new ones along the way. Get out there and support your local musicians and keep Music City thriving! We are always looking to promote great music that may not get the attention it deserves. Have an event you think should be included in the next issue? Email me at:                     [email protected]

This Month’s Highlights

Here you’ll find the shows and events this month that I think are the real standouts, unique events that you won’t find every day in the city.

Nate Smith & Friends – Monday, May 6 – 8:00 PM (Basement East)

Renowned jazz drummer, composer, and arranger Nate Smith makes a stop at East Nashville’s cozy Basement East. Smith’s work creates quite an impressive resumé, working with modern jazz legends from Path Metheny to Dave Holland to Ravi Coltrane, among many others. His debut album was twice nominated for a Grammy, and his body of work is only growing and diversifying, having ventured into the rock/pop world with collaborations with The Fearless Flyers, Brittany Howard, and others. For any fan of modern jazz and fusion, I think this is a can’t miss. Tickets can be purchased on the Basement’s website.

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra – Saturday, May 11 – 8:00 PM ($25) (Rudy’s)

Hailed as one of the most innovative steel pannists the world over, Jonathan Scales has spent his career redefining the expectations of his instrument. Presenting compositions that are complex and difficult yet accessible and danceable, Scales and his trio of top-notch performers offer a truly unique experience.

Cory Henry – Sunday, May 12 – 7:00 PM (Basement East)

Also at the Basement East is jazz and fusion organist and pianist Cory Henry. Originally of Snarky Puppy fame, Henry ventured out into a solo career beginning in 2018. His latest album Church was released this year, and his Nashville stop is in support of this new release. Tickets can be purchased on the Basement’s website.

Jazz on the Cumberland – Sunday, May 12 – 5:30 PM (Nashville Cumberland Park)

The Jazz on the Cumberland series returns for this year, starting with May’s edition on Mother’s Day. This free concert series is a local favorite, and has been ranked as one of the top destinations for jazz in Nashville multiple times. You’ll enjoy great jazz music accompanied by a variety of food trucks and the scenic downtown skyline.

Nicole Zuraitis Trio – Monday, May 13 – 6:00 PM ($15) (Rudy’s)

NYC-based Nicole Zuraitis is a celebrated vocalist in the modern jazz scene. A Grammy winner (as well as two other nominations), she has become a household name in the contemporary jazz landscape. Here she leads a trio, offering some of her wonderful original music.

Martinis & Jazz with Nashville Pride – Thursday, May 16 – 6:00 PM (Center 615)

The annual Nashville Pride fundraiser returns this month, with proceeds supporting the work the organization does all year long. Located at Center 615, your ticket includes complimentary craft cocktails, beer and wine, appetizers and treats, and live music throughout the event, as well as access to the Silent Auction and the Wine Pull. This is the perfect opportunity to directly support Nashville Pride while connecting with the community. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased through the Nashville Pride website.

Marcus Miller at Schermerhorn Symphony Center – Wednesday, May 22 – 7:30 PM ($40+)

Celebrated bassist Marcus Miller will perform with the Nashville Symphony, conducted by Enrico Lopez-Yañez, Principal Pops Conductor of the orchestra. With a career spanning more than 30 years, Miller is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of our time.

Arrington Vineyards

Music in the Vines Series – Every Saturday (3:00-7:00 PM) & Sunday (1:00-5:00 PM)

Starting in April, Arrington Vineyards will feature concerts of Jazz and Bluegrass every Saturday and Sunday. Acts range from Andrew Carney & the Essentials to Art Four Sale Band to the Reed Pittman Band. There will also be live jazz on Fridays (4:30-8:30 PM) for Arrington’s Food Truck Fridays!  

City Winery Nashville

Nashville’s City Winery is a beautiful venue that consistently features top-talent acts that span genres from Jazz to Americana to Hip Hop. The below performances showcase a mix of several genres, but will certainly be of interest to any jazz audience. Enjoy these concerts accompanied by a stellar selection of wine and delicious bites.

The Lounge

“The Beatles: A Jazz Tribute” with the Miles Damaso Quartet – Sunday, May 5 – 7:00 PM ($18 Advance / $22 Day-Of)

Drummer Miles Damaso is accompanied by three of Nashville’s top musicians to offer a jazzy spin on Beatles’ classics. Damaso is a percussionist, educator, and composer/arranger who has experience in a number of genres and settings, including jazz, classical, and marching band. This quartet features Don Aliquo on sax, Pat Coil on piano, and Brian Allen on bass.

Main Stage

An Evening with Jonathan Butler – Sunday, May 12 – 8:00 PM ($35+)

Legendary South African singer-songwriter Jonathan Butler performs on City Winery’s Main Stage, supporting his most recent album Ubuntu, recorded in his home country. Butler will in fact present two sets, but as of this writing tickets for the 5:00 PM performance have sold out, so act fast if this is one you want to see!

Music City Without Borders: A Benefit Concert for NICE and Refugees in Middle Tennessee – Saturday, May 18 – 7:30 PM ($35+)

This benefit concert will feature a variety of acts and benefits the refugee population in the Middle Tennessee area.

An Evening with Leo Kottke – Sunday, May 19 – 7:30 PM ($30+)

Guitar master Leo Kottke will grace the Main Stage, showing off his trademark fingerpicking style that draws on a wide variety of influences, from blues to jazz to folk. After a long and successful career requiring the conquering of many personal hardships, Kottke is widely recognized as master of his instrument.

The Nashville Jazz Workshop

Moving on to Music City’s other great jazz venue, the Jazz Cave at the NJW is a venue with world-class acoustics, which consistently ranks in Downbeat Magazine’s list of Great Jazz Venues in the world. Tickets can be purchased through the Workshop website.

Jazz Cave

Chris Walters presents Rhapsody in Burlesque: A Tribute to George Gershwin & Cole Porter – Friday, May 3 – 7:30 PM ($35)

One of Nashville’s most celebrated jazz pianists presents a tribute to both George Gershwin and Cole Porter, two of the composers most instrumental in the early days of jazz music. An experienced composer and arranger in his own right, Christ Walters presents a unique reimagining of classic songs from the Great American Songbook.

Kyla Jade presents “The Great Women of Jazz” – Friday, May 17 – 7:30 PM ($35)

One of the most versatile and in-demand vocalists in the business today, Kyla Jade was a finalist on NBC’s The Voice, and is equally at home in a wide array of genres from pop to gospel to jazz. Jade will maker NJW debut with a reverent tribute to some of the great women in jazz history.

Adam McPhail: Tribute to the Great Blues Guitarists – Friday, May 24 – 7:30 PM ($35)

Continuing the Workshop’s theme of tributes for this month, standout Nashville guitarist Adam McPhail will pay homage to the great blues guitarists of the past. McPhail himself has performed and recorded with many of these towering names, including B.B. King, Keb’ Mo’, Cory Wong, Mark Lettieri, and Roosevelt Collier, among others.

Ralph T. Lofton presents The Timeless Gospel Music of the Hammond Organ – Sunday, May 26 – 3:00 PM ($30)

One of the most revered names in gospel music, Ralph T. Lofton has performed or recorded with giants such as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Little Richard, Whitney Houston, among many others. After a long and impressive career which includes recordings with over 200 artists and many appearances on late night shows, among other achievements, Lofton now makes his debut as band leader, with Jay White on bass and Marcus Finnie on drums.

Mike Hicks – Friday, May 31 – 7:30 PM ($35)

Mike Hicks is an award-winning artist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. Having performed or recorded with artists spanning from Buddy Guy to Rascal Flatts, the original music he now presents draws on a wide array of influences from jazz and blues to country, gospel, and R&B.

Community Events

Jazz on the Move: The Life and Music of Clark Terry with Rod McGaha – Sunday, May 5 – 3:00 PM (Frist Art Museum) (Free)

The latest installment in the Workshop’s Jazz on the Move series features a presentation on the life and music of one of the towering giants of jazz music, Clark Terry. This free event is presented by Rod McGaha, a direct student and protégé of Clark Terry, who has collaborated with revered acts such as Take 6 and Max Roach.

Champian Fulton: The Music of Billie Holiday – Thursday, May 9 – 7:30 PM (Franklin Theatre) ($40+)

The Franklin Theatre will host an evening of music paying tribute to the great jazz vocalist Billie Holiday. The performance stars Champian Fulton, celebrated as one of the most gifted jazz musicians of her generation.

Marcus Miller at Schermerhorn Symphony Center (detailed above)

Rudy’s Jazz Room

And now we move on to Nashville’s premier jazz club, with its cozy, intimate setting. I’ll start with some of the unique highlights for this month, then follow up with the great regular acts performing. Please note that some shows are one dollar cheaper if you purchase advance tickets. I have listed the door price for all shows.

Rudy’s Highlights

Below are the performances for this month that I’ve picked out as the real can’t-miss shows, some featuring touring artists from out of state, others featuring local artists giving specialized, unique performances.

Nigel Cathéy Quintet: Swingin’ Evening – Wednesday, May 1 – 6:00 PM ($14)

Trumpeter and arranger Nigel Cathéy presents an evening of hard swinging music that mixes traditional swing, hard bop and modern jazz to bring you a unique mix of sounds inspired by the jazz giants of the past, from Oscar Pettiford to Freddie Hubbard, to modern artists like Braxton Cook and Curtis Lundy. The band features Gus Arnold (sax), Josh Karas (piano), Patrick Atwater (bass), and Marc Widenhofer (drums).

Andy Reiss Quintet – Wednesday, May 1 – 9:00 PM ($15)

Grammy-winning guitarist Andy Reiss leads a stellar quintet of some of Nashville’s top musicians, including Joel Frahm (sax), Andrew Carney (trumpet), Rodger Spencer (bass), and Danny Coots (drums). Reiss, a member of the Time Jumpers, is a prolific recording session musician in Nashville, having recorded with greats like Slim Pickens, Pig Robbins, and Rebe McEntire, among others. His long career and life in music has given him a wide range of influences, from Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead to Charlie Christian and Joe Pass.

Kyle Cox Quartet ft. Will Padgett – Thursday, May 2 – 9:00 PM ($12)

Nashville guitarist Kyle Cox returns to Rudy’s to provide an intimate evening of music from his impressive catalog, including his latest album WHO CARES, released last year. The quartet will feature Will Padgett on piano, with support from Paul Defiglia on bass and Ian Strobino on drums.

Cosmic Collective Fight Club – Friday, May 3 – 11:00 PM ($10)

Nashville-based jazz fusion group Cosmic Collective returns to Rudy’s for a performance of music that transcends genre, mixing jazz, pop, R&B, funk, and Motown. The lineup includes Tyler Enslow, Nikki Enslow, Don Aliquo, and Nioshi Jackson.

Artillerie Lourdes – Saturday, May 4 – 8:00 PM ($22)

Artillerie Lourdes is an acoustic group that brings you music inspired by the intoxicating Gypsy Jazz of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. A perfect fit for Rudy’s to honor its French and New Orleans roots, the band features Derek Pell on violin, Issac Eicher on mandolin and Brook Sutton on bass, as well as the incredible Rory Hoffman on guitar and accordion. I have personally seen Hoffman perform on multiple occasions, and I will say his name alone should entice you to this performance.

The Aaron Lessard Group – Saturday, May 4 – 11:00 PM ($10)

Nashville jazz/fusion guitarist Aaron Lessard will perform a mix of original compositions and covers in a trio format featuring Brian Allen on bass and Mark Raudabaugh on drums.

Cinco de Mayo with Marcela Pinilla Jazz Trio – Sunday, May 5 – 6:00 PM ($15)

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Rudy’s with Latin-Jazz Colombian vocalist, percussionist, and songwriter Marcela Pinilla, backed by Isaac Eicher on mandolin and Geoff Saunders on bass. Pinilla has traveled the world with her music, with such achievements as holding a two-year residency at the legendary Jazz at South Bridge in Singapore, among many others.

Rebecca Carlson – Thursday, May 9 – 9:00 PM ($14)

Jazz and blues vocalist Rebecca Carlson has made a name for herself across the country, taking stints based in New York City, Tucson, Los Angeles, and now Nashville. An extensive touring and recording career has made her quite an in-demand performer.

Dave Potter Trio ft. Greg Tardy – Saturday, May 10 – 8:00 PM ($20)

Atlanta-based drummer Dave Potter comes to Rudy’s with a powerhouse trio featuring Greg Tardy on tenor sax and Will Goble on bass. A native of North Carolina, Potter has an extensive career performing and recording, having studied under and performed with some of the greatest in the industry today.

Marc Payne Quartet – Friday, May 10 – 11:00 PM ($10)

Young up-and-coming Nashville pianist Marc Payne performs with a quartet featuring Hugo Matile, Zachery Doughlas, and Darius Salazar. Payne has been immersed in jazz music for most of his life, and has soaked up the styles of diverse players like Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Sony Clark, Thelonius Monk, and many others to form his own unique style.

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra (detailed above)


Nicole Zuraitis Trio (detailed above)


Marc Payne’s JazzHop Quartet – Wednesday, May 15 – 9:00 PM ($15)

Marc Payne appears again, this time in a more contemporary setting, leading a band playing a fusion of jazz, hip-hop, and funk. The quartet features Zachery Douglas (sax), Darius Salazar (bass), and Hugo Matile (drums).

Danny Jonokuchi Quintet – Friday, May 17 – 5:30 PM ($15)

A jazz trumpeter, vocalist, and composer based in NYC and LA, Danny Jonokuchi has been recognized for his performance on two Grammy-winning projects. This performance will feature Jonokuchi in quintet format, presenting his original music, as well as new arrangements.

Le Boeuf Brothers – Saturday, May 18 – 5:30 PM ($20)

Twin brothers Remy (saxophone) and Pascal (piano) Le Boeuf are both Grammy-nominated composers and performers. This band will also feature Ethan Jodziewicz on bass and Jordan Perlson on drums. The brothers’ individual styles both overlap classic jazz with more modern styles, including indie-rock and electronic music, offering a modern and unique sound for their group.

The Karas Committee – Wednesday, May 29 – 6:00 PM ($12)

The Karas Committee is an original jazz-fusion project led by Josh Karas, an up-and-coming pianist, composer, and bandleader in Nashville. Backed by an incredible band, the group has already performed to sold-out crowds at Rudy’s as well as The Analog and The 5 Spot.

Rudy’s Regulars

Don Aliquo Trio – Multiple Performances

One of Nashville’s most active and accomplished saxophonists, Aliquo will be performing with his trio on two occasions this month, in both trio and quartet formats.

                Don Aliquo Quartet – Friday, May 3 & Saturday, May 18 – 8:00 PM ($23)
                Don Aliquo Trio – Saturday, May 11 & Saturday, May 25 – 11:00 PM ($10)

Jody Nardone Trio – Saturday, May 4 – 5:30 PM ($17) & Saturday, May 25 – 8:00 PM ($22)

Prominent Nashville pianist Jody Nardone brings his trio to Rudy’s for a classic jazz set. With a growing national reputation, Nardone seamlessly shifts from the “whispered beauty of Bill Evans to the percussive flights of McCoy Tyner.” (Michael McCall, Nashville Scene)

Cliff Richmond & the CliffNotes – Friday, May 3 – 5:30 PM ($14)

Guitarist and vocalist Cliff Richmond’s band always features some of Nashville’s top talent, and presents a great blend of soulful, swinging, and funky jazz.

Re-Evolution – Mondays, May 6, 20, 27 – 6:00 PM ($12)

This five-piece band is heavily influenced by classic jazz cutting-edge artists like Thelonius Monk, Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and more. The band consists of Brian Cornish on saxophone, Regi Wooten on bass, Daryl Johnson on drums, Adam Charney on guitar and Alex Murphy on piano.

Dana Robbins Quintet – Wednesday, May 8 – 6:00 PM ($12)

GRAMMY-winning saxophonist Dana Robbins pays tribute to the Soul Jazz sound of the late 60’s and early 70’s, celebrating artists such as Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Jimmy Smith, and more. Robbins has either recorded or performed with many artists, including Keb’ Mo’, Aretha Franklin, Taj Mahal, Keith Urban, and more. Her band features David Santos (bass), Wes Little (drums), Phil Hughley (guitar), and Darius Mines (piano/B3 organ).

MILEStones: Tribute to Miles Davis – Wednesday, May 8 – 9:00 PM ($15)

The Nashville-based Miles Davis tribute ensemble returns to Rudy’s with the music of one of the greatest contributors to jazz music, with a focus on music from the two “great quintets” Miles led in the 50’s and 60’s.

Viktor Krauss – Friday, May 10 – 5:30 PM ($12)

Prolific Nashville bassist and composer Viktor Krauss has been a presence in the city for over 30 years, with nearly 500 album credits to his name. He has toured and recorded with countless big-name artists, including James Taylor, Tom Jones, Sheryl Crow, Robert Plant, and of course his sister Allison.

Sully’s Swingin’ Sunday Supper – Sunday, May 12 & Sunday, May 26 – 6:00 PM ($12)

Every other Sunday, Rudy’s features a Sunday dinner, with one of Music City’s top bassists Jimmy Sullivan leading a swingin’ jazz band featuring rotating special guests, for which a unique dinner special is served just for the show.

Geoff Pfeifer Quartet – Friday, May 17 & Friday, May 31 – 11:00 PM ($10)

Playing a mix of Wayne Shorter tunes and originals, Geoff Pfeifer brings gritty, edgy, genuine NYC-style jazz to Rudy’s stage with his Quartet.

PT Gazell & the Side Effects – Wednesday, May 22 – 6:00 PM ($10)

PT Gazell is a renowned harmonica player, with two Grammy-nominated albums to his name. He believes the harmonica is capable of so much more than most people realize, and continues to prove it by expanding the musical boundaries of the instrument.

Regi Wooten & Friends – Wednesday, May 22 & Wednesday, May 29 – 9:00 PM ($15 Cover)

Coming from a distinctly talented musical family, Regi Wooten is one of the most innovative and dynamic musicians on the scene today, pushing the boundaries of the traditional genres. Equally at home playing Hendrix as Wes Montgomery, Wooten assembles a group of some of Nashville’s best musicians to offer a night steeped in funk, jazz, soul, blues and rock.

Stephanie Adlington – Friday, May 24 – 8:00 PM ($23 Cover)

Another frequent visitor to the Rudy’s stage, award-winning vocalist, songwriter and vocal coach Stephanie Adlington is known as the “Siren of the South,” with an “unrivaled” take on the Great American Songbook.

Pat Coil Trio w/ Special Guest Joel Frahm – Saturday, May 25 – 5:30 PM ($17) & Friday, May 31 – 8:00 PM ($23)

Widely accomplished Pat Coil performs with his trio featuring Marc Widenhofer on drums and Rob Linton on bass, with special guest NYC tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm. All musicians involved are highly accomplished in their own rights, guaranteeing a stellar performance.

Chris Mondak Band ft. Special Guest Pavel Wlosok – Thursday, May 30 – 9:00 PM ($14)

Bassist and composer Chris Mondak leads his band with special guest Pavel Wlosok, a Czech-born pianist, composer/arranger, and educator who maintains a busy international touring schedule.

Giovanni Rodriguez & 12 Manos – Every Monday – 9:00 PM ($15)

A favorite on the Nashville Latin and jazz scene, multi-instrumentalist Giovanni Rodriguez presents an electric night of salsa, along with his band consisting of Rodriguez (bass/vocals), Melvin Macias (piano/vocals), Jesus Agreda (Timbales), Lorenzo Molina Ruiz (Trumpet), and Manuel ‘Manotas’ Ramierez (multi-Percussion).

Hot Club Gypsy Jazz – Every Thursday – 6:00 PM ($12)

Every Thursday night, Rudy’s honors its New Orleans and French roots by celebrating the vibrant music of Gypsy Jazz. These nights feature a variety of small groups either led or curated by New Orleans native Brook Sutton, all performing music in the style of the great Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli. The bar will feature French Quarter-inspired cocktails as well as gumbo and beignets. Come out for as authentic a night as you can get without a trip to the French Quarter.

Rudy’s Jazz Jam – Every Sunday – 9:00 PM ($10)

I couldn’t make a list of Rudy’s events without including a shout-out for the regular weekly Jazz Jam the club hosts every Sunday night. Whether you are a jazz musician and you want to jam with your fellow artists, or you just want to come and enjoy what the local talent has to offer, the Jazz Jam is a great way to end your weekend.

Sambuca Restaurant

Sambuca is a New American restaurant in Nashville’s Gulch district, featuring nightly live music. Below are the appearances that will interest the jazz listener!

Leif Shires (2 performances) – Thursday, May 2 – 6:00 PM & Tuesday, May 21 – 6:00 PM

Modern jazz trumpeter Leif Shires will perform twice this month. Shires, who has performed with many artists including Tom Jones, the Secret Sisters, Kelly Lang, and many others, now presents a traditional, straight-ahead jazz sound that is sure to be a great accompaniment to a delicious meal.

Amanda Raye (2 performances) – Saturday, May 4 – 7:00 PM & Wednesday, May 15 – 6:00 PM

Although her style is a blend of soul and country, Raye’s jazz influence certainly shines through. She will present an evening of original music.

Steve Roper (2 performances) – Sunday, May 5 – 6:00 PM & Monday, May 20 – 6:00 PM

For three years, Steve Roper was the band leader and music director for the Steven Roper and the B.B. King Allstars band at the B.B. King Club here in Music City. His primary genres are jazz and blues, but his skillset extends well beyond these styles to R&B and even country.

Sarah J – Wednesday, May 8 – 6:00 PM

Known for her energetic personality and audience interactions, Sarah J presents a powerful blend of R&B, contemporary jazz, and pop music. She accompanies herself on both piano and guitar.

Thea Danos – Saturday, May 11 – 7:00 PM

Nashville native Thea Danos specializes in jazz and Brazilian bossa nova, a style she is intimately familiar with as she has spent extensive time in Brazil performing and perfecting her Portuguese singing. Danos likely will be the closest one can get to authentic Brazilian bossa nova in Nashville.

Stephanie Adlington (2 performances) – Saturday, May 18 – 11:30 AM & Sunday, May 26 – 11:30 AM

Featured above in the Rudy’s section, Adlington is an award-winning jazz vocalist.

Two Hands Restaurant

Sam Levine Trio – Every Saturday – 6:30-8:30 PM

Accomplished Nashville saxophonist and woodwind multi-instrumentalist Sam Levine performs with his trio at this Gulch café. Mel Deal on guitar, Charlie Chadwick on bass.

The Underdog Nashville

The Guthrie Trapp Trio – Every Monday – 8:00 PM ($10)

One of Nashville’s preeminent guitar talents will perform several times at the Underdog. More blues and country than jazz, Trapp’s intricate and highly technical guitar playing will surely interest those who love the technicality of jazz music. His trio features Jordan Perlson on drums and Tim Marks on bass.

The Jack Ruch Organ Trio – First Three Thursdays (2, 9, 16) – 8:00 PM ($10)

Guitarist Jack Ruch, organist Adam Wakefield, and drummer Nioshi Jackson make up this soul and blues trio. The music you’ll hear here makes up the core of jazz’s roots, so any jazz fan should feel right at home listening to this trio.

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