More than 100 years old and continually evolving, jazz is often misunderstood.
Swing, hard bob, bebop, Dixieland, smooth, progressive, acid . . . the list goes on. Perhaps one reason for the confusion is that jazz is felt. It comes from the heart. As jazz musician Barney Kessel once said, “The beat is irresistible. The melodies are beautiful. The harmonies are intricate and intriguing, and the improvisations are phenomenal feats of spontaneous composition.”
Created in New Orleans, jazz has roots in African rhythms, American folk songs, field chants, New Orleans parades and funeral bands. Its European influences were introduced through melody, harmony and musical instruments and while jazz was born in the South, there are few venues today that dare to claim to be synonymous with true jazz. The Jazz Corner claims such a feat and our purpose has been and still is, to celebrate and preserve America’s most distinctive sound.
Proof is in the accolades listed below, of some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world today that have graced our stage at The Jazz Corner.
“One of the finest jazz clubs on the East Coast, if not the country.
We’ll be back!” George Shearing
“The best room for jazz that I’ve every played in.” Buddy Greco
“The Jazz Corner is without question the best small
jazz club we’ve performed.” Bucky Pizzarelli
“Obviously a tremendous amount of thought went into the selection of the
piano. I wish there was something like this in New York.” John Bunch
Welcome to The Jazz Corner, the South East’s premier jazz club and restaurant offering smooth and elegant jazz with gourmet dining in an intimate and relaxed environment nightly.
We opened on March 30th, 1999 with The George Shearing Quintet and have continued to offer a unique experience to those who cherish great jazz mixed with fine dining and outstanding service in an elegant environment.
Read on to discover more about The Jazz Corner and its variety of offerings . . .
THE HISTORY OF THE JAZZ CORNER
It is both important and necessary to write the history and background of The Jazz Corner. Who were the pioneers who conceived the club? What were the driving forces behind the design and musical process? How did it come together? All of these factors along with some other experiential elements are part of our rich history.
Charles Swift, one of the co-founders, although not a jazz musician, has always possessed three qualities necessary for a project of this nature: passion for classical and jazz music; corporate citizenship; and an extensive background in business and organizational development. While attending then graduating from Princeton, Charles gained additional insight into the history of great music with his association to Princeton and Jimmy Stewart, Brooks Bowman, and “East of the Sun”.
Bob Masteller, his partner, possesses a unique background of both musicianship and business. Bob was born a jazz legacy, as his father Harold was a prominent jazz musician in the early pre-swing twentieth century. Bob inherited an in-built knowledge of the history of jazz as imparted to him by his father through both teaching and playing. It was during the period of 1944-1959 that Bob observed, learned, and played the music of the times with his dad’s band. His father insisted on two things: that he learns to “swing” his instrument and that he plays in “stock” keys. This process began in Waverly, New York when Bob was five years old. He began to be aware that he was in a rich musical environment where swing music was played every day, either by one of his family members or on the 78 phonograph. Among the collection was the music of Nat Cole, Art Tatum, Phil Napoleon, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Nellie Lutcher, Teddy Wilson, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mercer, and George Shearing, just to name a few.
The quintessential points of jazz venues in general that were observed during Bob’s teen years had to do with room design, acoustics, and environment. He learned from first hand experience the effect a badly designed room could have on a performance. The most extraordinary finding was that very often the room offered nothing in the way of design or sound amplification.
Another mind-boggling discovery was that rooms featuring jazz very often had pianos out of tune or pianos that were unfit for executing good jazz. This learning curve continued all through college where he was part of a prominent campus band at Hobart but also followed him through an entire business career as a daytime Human Resource executive and a nighttime jazz musician. It was this dichotomy which ultimately led to the birth of The Jazz Corner.
The first mission was to design an acoustically perfect room with tuned house instruments in a rich, comfortable environment. Once this was completed, the next element was to hire their operations person during this design phase. They chose Leslie Rohland as General Manager to assist in the development and implementation of a food and beverage concept that created an “experience” rather than just a “meal with music”. It was only through the strong influence of Leslie and eventually the Chef that the food and beverage experience was actually implemented at an equal level with the musical program and design. Finally, the plan to build the sound perfect room was set. It would feature the three things that still exist today: elegant and entertaining jazz; perfect sound; (which they defined as a person hearing the same note at the same volume regardless of location) and a “mystical” atmosphere that would remind a customer that he or she are in a unique setting. KRA and Associates were commissioned to fulfill these requirements. They did so by integrating a small oval uplifted stage, with tables on the floor and slightly raised banquets, along with a small horseshoe brass bar. The etched glass front door leads to a foyer that instantly gives one with the impression that they are in a swing era New York jazz club and one feels a connection to history linked by both architecture and interior design. Combined with magnificent art work, KRA helped create our jewel.
Masteller and Swift were both corporately trained and even though the project required high entrepreneurial energy, the driving force behind the project was thoughtful planning based on real life experience within the art form of Jazz. It is this combination, along with their courage to let the operating people run the project while they concentrated on the policy development of the corporation that makes The Jazz Corner a success on several levels.
The other and sometimes “hidden” piece of history is that Masteller saw The Jazz Corner as an opportunity to transfer his avant-garde Human Resource beliefs. His experience as VP of Human Resources for Sea Pines in the 1970’s taught him that food and beverage establishments carried low marks in the area of individual treatment, training, retention, and recognition compared to his other organizational endeavors. He and Charlie Swift felt that a strong sense of “family” and teamwork would add to the so-called “value added” concept of The Jazz Corner. The intent, which has largely been met, is to impart a strong sense of history and culture to the patron and not just a “present tense”. The uniqueness is that, in this concept, the message is essentially delivered by the staff while operating within the work of art.
Although The Jazz Corner is still a work in progress, it is safe to say, after eight years, that many of the ideas that became the focal points of the club were gained from a strong sense of history. As the line of philosophy goes, "those who do not learn from the lessons of history are condemned to repeat." The Jazz Corner is a project based on this in a variety of subjects.
On a musical note, The Jazz Corner has prided itself, since March 30, 1999 in selecting proper jazz and music. The overriding principle was that of elegance and quality in both the type of music presented and the lead performer. Careful analysis of jazz uncovers the little known fact that there are some twenty three different categories of jazz, ranging from traditional to acid jazz. We decided we were interested in four of the twenty three, which are swing, traditional, New Orleans and mainstream jazz. It is interesting to note that each of these categories have common subdivisions which are bright and airy, mood themes, mid-tempo themes, and ballads. In addition, within each category, tunes selection is such that vocals can be attached as an addition to each grouping.
During the initial two year start-up period, the club employed different combinations of instruments in each of the four categories which served as an excellent proving ground for determining winning combinations that pleased our patrons and supporters.
Today, The Jazz Corner’s schedule of performers includes differing combinations of instrumentation and vocalization but the four categories remain intact. Our weekday programming at the club is slightly different than the weekend approach in that two categories have been added to give more variety. Rhythm and blues and contemporary blues have been added to the four categories, which provides for a wider degree of interest in the venues.
The Jazz Corner takes great pride in looking back on our years and knowing that we stayed the course. If there is one word that could amply describe our mission in both food and music it would be the word “consistency”.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC
Hilton Head has several places of historical interest. There is evidence of the island being inhabited seasonally by Native Americans as early as 10,000 years ago. The Shell Ring inside the Sea Pines Forest Preserve is all that remains from their inhabitance. There is a large earthworks fort called Fort Walker in Port Royal Plantation. This fort was a station for Confederate troops until 1861 and participated in Battle of Port Royal at the time this was the largest amphibious landing by U.S. troops.
On the Atlantic coast of the island are large concrete gun platforms that were built to defend against a possible invasion by the Axis powers of World War II. Platforms like these can be found all along the eastern seaboard.
Port Royal also is the location of an experimental steam cannon guarding Port Royal Sound built around 1900. The cannon was fixed but its propulsion system allowed for long range shots for the time. The Leamington Lighthouse which was built in the 1870s on the southern edge of what is now Palmetto Dunes.
The first bridge to the island was built in 1956; it was a two lane toll bridge. Later a swing bridge was constructed and operated until 1982 when it was replaced. The swing bridge was hit by a barge in 1974 which shutdown all vehicle traffic to the island until the Army Corps of Engineers built and manned a pontoon bridge while the bridge was being repaired.
The beginning of Hilton Head as a resort started in 1956 with Charles Fraser developing Sea Pines Plantation, with the center piece being Harbour Town.
Many of the island's earliest residents, sometimes called Geechees spoke Gullah. Although threatened by the rapid increase in tourism, Gullah culture can be seen at the annual Gullah festival and tours offered by native islanders and craft shops around the Low Country.
Hilton Head Island is a town located on an island of the same name in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 33,862 at the 2000 census, living on a land area of 42.06 sq mi. Although the town occupies most of the land area of the island, it is not coterminous with it; there is a small part near the main access road from the mainland, William Hilton Parkway, which is not incorporated into the town. Hilton Head (the island) therefore has a slightly higher population and a larger land area than the town.
Hilton Head Island is 45 miles north of Savannah, Georgia, and 95 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina. The island features 12 miles of beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean and is a popular vacation destination.
The island is served by the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport and by the Hilton Head Airport which is on-island. Hilton Head Island is famous for its world class golf courses and each year hosts the Verizon Heritage Classic Tournament, which is played on the Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines Plantation.
Though known mainly as a tourist destination, Hilton Head is home to many 'native islanders', made up of African American communities that have lived on the island for generations and other groups who have migrated from northern states. Hilton Head is classified by the U.S. Census Bureau as part of the Hilton Head Island-Beaufort Micropolitan Area, which includes Beaufort and Jasper Counties and had a 2005 estimated population of 159,247.
The owner and Pres. and the man who makes it all happen! He books music, performs nightly, manages the culture, records, blogs, writes, sings, you name it, he does it and it is because of him, jazz is alive and well in the South East!
Our VP (pictured here pre-baby), working on this fabulous new web site, club marketing, Sweet Jazz, and Foundation.
Our founders and trail blazers!
Bob's wife and mother to all, seen here dressed up for a costume party!
Our Manager in action, she does it all! Kelli has been with us since day one! Ask her ANYTHING, she will probably know the answer!
Our head bartender and sound engineer, skilled and precise in both and one of our original staffers!
The wise one with the patience of a Saint (and great server!)
Too handsome for words . . .
One of the newest members and customer favorite!
Food runner, barback and now WAITER!
On most night, you will be greeted by our hostess with the mostess . . .
Our Sunday night door guard, picture coming!
The "Jill Bird"
The Jazz Corner Culinary Team
Chef Wade Haase, Aurellio Guzman, Keegen Alcock and Maxi Infante
Newest staff member...
By local artist Laurel Herter
Always a night to remember
Our front door etching on glass by local artist Laurel Herter.
Do you recognize the tune?
Come on in . . .
Tucked away in the quaint Village at Wexford