Wednesday, June 28, 2017
   
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One fewer jazz club in Ottawa

The Cabana Supper Club, an important venue for local jazz jams and jazz artists, closed in mid-August.

The Bank St. location is for rent, but the landlord told OttawaJazzScene.ca that he didn't see renting it again as a music venue because of vandalism problems with non-jazz events there.

For the last two years, the JazzWorks monthly jam sessions were held at the Cabana (formerly the New Bayou). Starting in February, Peter Liu and the Jazz Mutants also held their monthly Jazz Evolution jams there. Other jazz events, ranging from CD release parties to the Obama inaugural ball (Ottawa edition), also occurred at the club.

"It wasn't exactly the prettiest place I've ever been," Peter Liu said, "but it struck me as a great low-key venue for the jam, especially for developing musicians like myself. It was a good performance space for us, with a nice stage, plenty of seating, and a good location. The owner was very friendly to us and easy to work with, though he sometimes seemed busy and was not always available. There were some challenges, but I'd say far more rewards from our experiences there."

Jazzworks volunteer Gaby Warren said that Jazzworks is currently actively looking for a new venue for its jam, with one possible location being seriously followed up.

Liu found a temporary location for this week's Jazz Evolution — Groovy's Roti Hut  and is currently looking for a permanent home.

In May, the former New Bayou exchanged its "cheap and cheerful with disco ball" decor for a more upscale look as the Cabana Supper Club, in order to attract a more expensive clientele. The jazz events mostly continued, however, with a few glitches. On a few occasions, musicians and fans found that a jazz event had been cancelled without notice and replaced by another event, or else nobody showed up to open the doors.

Liu said he definitely wasn't expecting the club to close now, and "it will be a real challenge for JazzWorks and bands like mine to find another suitable venue for our events." He said he'd appreciate any suggestions or leads.

"Does it make things harder for jazz in Ottawa? Sure...but I'm optimistic about the larger picture. There is an incredibly talented and growing community of jazz musicians here in Ottawa, and I'm hopeful that interest in live jazz will continue to increase in the coming years, and that new venues for jazz music will emerge. With efforts from folks like yourselves, Jazzworks, the Ottawa Jazz Collective, Impressions in Jazz, and many other jazz musicians in town promoting our music, I think that a sea change will be inevitable," he said.
A "For LEase" sign is visible above the Cabana Supper Club entrance.