When I migrated to the NorthWest suburbs after decades of living in or near “the city” I knew there would be certain things I would miss. For instance, I was sure I had lost the ability to hear or play quality, live jazz and blues music. I mean, of course I still drive into Boston or Cambridge but now that I’m officially pushing 40 it’s not something I can do every week. Pathetic, but true.
Enter the Acton Jazz Cafe. Tucked away behind a Credit Union and a Karate school at 452 Great Road (a.k.a Route 2A/119) in Acton, MA. They are celebrating their 13th year and continue to pack the place with loyal patrons. Last weekend I caught the Cercie Miller Quartet for the second time and they did not disappoint. Cercie Miller on the sax, David Clark on bass, Tim Ray on piano and Bob Savine tearing up the drums. They have played together for many years and you can hear it in the ease and comfort with which they groove off each other. At the beginning of the show, Cercie proclaimed they were only playing happy songs so naturally they started things off with a soulful version of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed”. You just can’t go wrong after that.
Another act that hit the Acton Jazz Cafe recently was prodigy Grace Kelly (even her name rocks). She happened to roll through Acton on her way from playing the Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, Boston’s Colonial Theatre with Harry Connick Jr. and the Detroit Jazz Festival with Russell Malone (below). No biggie. Did I mention she is 16?
Check out the cafe’s website for upcoming shows and make sure to reserve tickets in advance! If you play an instrument (including your voice), it’s only $5 to join in the Jazz or Blues Jams which take place on Sundays and Thursdays. Ticket prices for the shows vary but I have never paid over $15 at the door. Bring a little extra money for something to drink and eat. You might want to go for an order of the stuffed Jalapenos…mmmmm…