Memories of the Artists’ Quarter

The world will be loosing yet another famous jazz club at the end of the year (2013); the great Artists’ Quarter. I was asked by the jazz website BeBopified to share some memories of the club for their series, Pleased and Flipped: Memories of the Artists’ Quarter.


“After almost 20 years in St. Paul – first on Jackson Street in Lowertown, then in the Hamm Building near Rice Park – the esteemed and beloved Artists’ Quarter jazz club will close January 1. As we near the end of a jazz era, we’re asking musicians (and a few others) whose lives have been shaped by experiences at the AQ to share their three favorite memories of the place, the people, and the music.” –


I’ve been granted permission to repost a portion of the story here…


“My most vivid memory is during the release show for the Out to Lunch Quintet’s “Live at the Artists’ Quarter” recording. If you know the club, you know about the back wall, the one on the far side of the bar from the stage, which is covered in record jackets. That night, as I looked out from the stage, I couldn’t see the bottom few rows. There were too many people, standing two to three deep, all the way at the back of the club. Solid. We’re talking fire-hazard full. Here’s the thing, we were playing an entire evening dedicated to the music of Eric Dolphy. Let me repeat, ERIC DOLPHY! Where else in the Western hemisphere would a music club dare host a full weekend of Dolphy’s music, let alone pack the house? Seriously. AQ!

I consider the first night Davis introduced my band a truly significant moment in my career as a musician.

Yet the most important memory I have, [and it’s one] I’m sure many others share, is the “every-single-damn-time-I-went-into-the-AQ-feeling.” You would descend from the cold, harsh real world and enter into a strangely different place, held in time and space, where the rules of life are suspended. Enter through the exterior doors, go down the stairs, wind right, glimpses of jazz photos, eventually finding your way to the airlock: the final chamber separating this hallowed space from the rat race. Here sits an odd mixture of Willy Wonka, Santa, and Jack Kerouac, with a beard and beret, welcoming you to wonderland with a broad smile and a handshake.(4) As you step through the magic archway into this alternate reality, you can sense in the air that something is going to happen. There’s a purpose, even a reverence amongst the people in this room; they’re here for a reason. Music. This, this is a Jazz Club. It’s about the music. If you’re lucky, you may even get to meet the Wizard of Oz himself.” – Kelly Rossum, Dec. 10, 2013 from Pleased and flipped 11: Memories of the Artists’ Quarter


Please read the full Pleased and flipped: Memories of the Artists’ Quarter series at:

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