When you own a record store called Blue Note, also the name of music's greatest jazz label, your stock better go a hell of a lot deeper than a stuffed Kenny G. section and a handful of Duke Ellington albums. Blue Note Records in North Miami Beach deserves its name. Whether you're tracking down Charles Mingus reissues or vintage skronk on the ESP label, Blue Note not only delivers, it surprises: Where else can you find a clean copy of Miles Davis's impossibly rare 1974 album Get Up with It for less than ten bucks?
Blue Note owner Bob Perry is hoping to up his eleven-year-old store's profile by adding occasional live music in the brand-new Blue Note Jazz Cafe, an intimate little dessert-and-coffee spot tucked into the corner of the store's recently expanded jazz wing (former home to a taco joint). The cafe held its grand opening on Monday, November 13, with a set by yuppie jazz lords the Yellowjackets, and followed it up with a jam session last Saturday featuring Afro-Cuban jazzman Luis Miranda.
The venue will feature low-key events much like those held in major record chains across the nation (including some area Spec's locations), where in-store acoustic-based performances have become something of a trend. Additionally, the owner hopes the cafe will provide an alternative to the ever-changing formats of so many local clubs. "Clubs in Miami are so trendy," Perry notes. "One minute it's a Latin club, the next it's doing retro funk. They're always coming and going, and nobody stays with anything. [The Blue Note] is not a nightclub. We can seat very few people. Our capacity's about 75, and that might be pushing it. But I think people will come out if they know something's going on."
Perry says that he's lining up a schedule of musical events that will include both local and national artists. (For now, the cafe has an autograph session with gospel diva Jennifer Holiday booked this Saturday, November 25, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.) According to Perry, most of the shows will be free, and he wants them all to mirror both the diversity of the city's music scene and the eclectic nature of his store, which carries everything from indie-rock singles and rockabilly reissues to audiophile pressings and gamut-spanning rarities on CD and vinyl.
"We might have an open-mike thing one night, or a blues night," he explains. "Maybe have a samba or jazz group, some acoustic things and spoken-word nights. This is a diverse town, and I want to reflect that. I don't listen to just one type of music and I don't think anybody else should. We want to mix it all up.