5 Great Places for Jazz Music in Dallas

One of the true tests of a city is, in my opinion, great jazz. Along with excellent markets, fabulous architecture, and great food, jazz is a marker of a city I’ll return to again and again.

Luckily, I live in Dallas, where excellent jazz venues abound. Here are my five favorite places to listen to jazz.

Adam Nyugen Quintent &364;PennySadler 2013


Cafe des Artistes
– Beautiful little cafe designed after the Brasseries of the La Belle Epoque. Located in One Arts Plaza, it’s right in the middle of the Dallas Arts District. There’s a terrific jazz ensemble lead by Adam Nguyen, that plays every Saturday night, adding to the Parisian ambiance. If smoking were still allowed, I think you just might feel as though you’d stepped into a time machine.

I especially like the bartender here and feel comfortable being on my own. There are always lots of folks stopping by on their way to the theater, opera or symphony.

You can check the website for hours and directions, but there is no information on the performers.

Cafe Des Artistes, Dallas, Texas @PennySadler 2013

Cafe des Artiste
One Arts Plaza
1722 Routh St. Dallas, Texas
cafedadallas.com
214.217.6888

Chocolate Secrets, Dallas, Texas @PennySadler 2013

Chocolate Secrets, located in the Oak Lawn neighborhood, is a cozy little cafe offering wine by the glass or bottle, handmade Belgian chocolates, coffees, and desserts. It’s a romantic spot for a date night, or a small intimate group.

There is live jazz Wednesday through Saturday nights. Saturday is my favorite night, as friends Jason Bucklin and Terry Hankins play jazz guitar. Ask them to play some Beatles tunes for you.

Chocolate Secrets does have a full event calendar on their website, so check it out.

Chocolate Secrets
3926 Oak Lawn
Dallas, Texas
mychocolatesecrets.com
214.252.9801

Gourmet chocolates at Chocolate Secrets, Dallas, Texas @PennySadler 2013

@PennySadler 2013, Chocolate Secrets, Dallas, Texas

The Amsterdam Bar is located near Fair Park and has a very casual and young vibe.
There’s a nice outdoor patio, and I hear the beer selection is amazing.

Monday night is jazz night, and you can often find legendary sax player Shelley Carrol there, with other great musicians. Definitely worth stopping in.

The Amsterdam Bar
831 Exposition Ave.
Dallas, Texas
theamsterdambar.com
214.827.3433

Craft Beer @PennySadler 2013

Buzzbrews is a tiny coffee shop that is a surprising venue for great jazz.
Sunday nights, you can catch the Rebel Alliance Jazz Ensemble, an 18 piece big band, packed into this unexpected Deep Ellum location. The place is tiny so if you are sound sensitive, you may want to sit in the back or take some ear plugs – you’ll still be able to hear, believe me! This music is fun and energetic – you’ll probably want to dance, and I’m pretty sure if you can find a spot, no one would mind. At the very least, you’ll be bouncing in your seats.

Buzzbrews Kitchen
Deep Ellum
2801 Commerce St.
Dallas, Texas
buzzbrews.com
214.741.2801

Jason Bucklin on jazz guitar Dallas, Texas @PennySadler 2013

The Balcony Club , located above the Lakewood Theater in east Dallas, is a long time favorite, attracting an all ages crowd. On weekends there’s usually a bridal party or two, and always plenty of neighborhood locals. It attracts the famous and the not so famous, but it’s always friendly.

The website posts a calendar, but seriously, just go. It’s one of the coolest venues in Dallas, and they are open seven nights a week. Any night at the Balcony Club is a good night.

The Balcony Club
1825 Abrams (look for the art deco Lakewood Theater marquee)
Dallas, Texas
214.826.8104
thebalconyclub.com

Do you have anything to add? What have I missed? And, if you’re in Dallas, let me know – we can go on a photowalk, and then listen to some jazz!

Adam Nyugen Quintet at Cafe des Artistes @PennySadler 2103

All materials ©PennySadler 2012-2013. All rights reserved.

Postcard: The Merc, Dallas

The Mercantile Building, Dallas, Texas @PennySadler 2013

The Merc

I discovered The Mercantile about the same time I discovered Main St.Gardens, an urban green space in downtown Dallas. Since then I’ve been drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I think it’s the neon clock tower and the fact that it is one of the few deco – inspired buildings left in Dallas. It’s especially cool at night when the neon on the clock tower is lit, as it is in this photograph. A fun note about the photo – it’s a drive by. I just rolled down my window and held up my camera while passing through downtown. I’d been out shooting all day because the sky was particularly interesting and was on my way home when I saw The Merc from this vantage point.

The Mercantile National Bank, founded by R.L. Thornton (one of the founders of the city of Dallas), is now a luxury residential high rise building in the Main St. Historic District.

Completed in 1942, the steel to construct the building had already been ordered when WWII began. At a time when new construction was basically at a standstill because materials were being requisitioned for the war, R.L. Thornton, was able to get an exception for the Mercantile Bank Building. The interior was apparently pretty swank and R.L. lived in a penthouse on the 31st floor.

Now called simply The Merc, the location is a dream for urban dwellers who like shopping, fine dining, and the arts. Neiman Marcus is a block away, and there are multiple options for five star dining in the area. The Dallas Arts District is also within walking distance as is the Farmers Market.

All materials ©PennySadler 2012-2013. All rights reserved.

Historic Los Angeles: An Architecture Walk

The Million Dollar Theater, Broadway St. Los Angeles, Ca. @PennySadler 2013

The Million Dollar Theater

On my recent trip to Los Angeles I walked the historic downtown area – a fascinating neighborhood packed with interesting old buildings that tell the history of Los Angeles from 1890’s to the present.

I was surprised to learn that there is a huge theater district built mostly in the 1920s and 30s and it contains the largest concentration of theaters located within on city block in the nation. Take a walk down Broadway St. – from beaux arts to art deco, it’s an architects dream come true.

The whole area was once the center of art and culture in Los Angeles, but was mostly abandoned by the 1990’s. However there is a movement to revitalize the area, and funding has been approved to install a downtown streetcar. There are rumours of big name retailers like Urban Outfitters moving into the area as well. Many of the buildings are already being converted into lofts, however there are still a lot of buildings that look only partially refurbished – it looks like a very long term project.

@PennySadler 2013 Detail of the facade on the Million Dollar Theater

Detail, Million Dollar Theater

A great place to start your walk is at the corner of Broadway and 3rd. On one side is the Million Dollar Theater and the Grand Central Market, and across the street is the famous Bradbury Building. The Bradbury is the oldest commercial building in Los Angeles, and it is working building so you can only visit the first floor. The beautiful French wrought iron, five story atrium, and wood and terra cotta details of the interior, were inspired by a futuristic novel from 1887 called, “Looking Backward,” by Edward Bellamy. Interesting anecdote, parts of the building were used in the science fiction film, Blade Runner.

The Bradbury Building, Los Angeles, @PennySadler 2013

Interior: The Bradbury Building

Adjacent to the Million Dollar Theater is Grand Central Market, the oldest open air market in Los Angeles and it’s still a hopping place. You can find everything from tacos to fresh fruit smoothies here.

Grand Central Market, Broadway, St. Los Angeles CA @PennySadler 2013

Grand Central Market

Walk through Grand Central Market to the other side and across the street you will see the world’s shortest railroad, the Angel’s Flight funicular built in 1901. Ride it to the top for just 50 cents and experience a bit of L.A. history.

Angels Flight @PennySadler 2013

Angels Flight

Go back to Broadway to continue your tour of the amazing theater district.

The Los Angeles Theater, LA. California @PennySadler 2013

The Los Angeles Theater was built in 1931 at a cost of 2,000,000 dollars! The owner went in the hole pretty quickly and Fox took over the theater until the 1980’s. Check out this link for photographs of the interior which is magnificent!

The Tower Theater, Los Angeles @PennySadler 2013

The Tower Theater

exterior the Palace Theater, LA. Cal. @PennySadler 2013

The Palace Theater

The Palace Theater was built in 1911 and was one of the first of the Orpheum Vaudeville Theaters.

There are many other buildings of historical significance aside from the theaters. If you can plan in advance (I did not), the Los Angeles Conservancy offers tours of the various neighborhoods and styles of architecture for only $10.00. Some include the interiors which I’d love to see!

The Chester Williams Building @PennySadler 2013

The Chester Williams Building

For more information on theater district visit Bringing Back Broadway

Farmers Merchant National Bank @PennySadler 2013
theater Broadway St. Los Angeles, CA. @PennySadler 2013

All materials ©PennySadler 2013

Postcard: Sant’ Ignazio, Rome

Sant’Ignazio, or Saint Ignatius of Loyola, is a beautiful little church in Piazza Sant’Ignazio, Rome. I passed it about a thousand times before I ever went inside.

Chiesa Sant' Iganzio, Rome, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Piazza Sant’Ignazio was designed to resemble a stage ,with exits on either side. It’s a quiet and pretty piazza, situated between the Pantheon and Via del Corso. Every time I see it, I always feel a little like I’ve entered another time or place. It has a very distinct atmosphere that speaks of something old world and elegant.

The interior ceiling frescoes, painted by Jesuit Andrea Pozzo in 1685, are a masterful optical illusion, creating the effect of a dome – when in fact the ceiling is flat!

The exterior, designed by architect Orazio Grassi in a baroque style, holds no clues to the beauty of the interior, nor do these photographs do it justice. Yet another place I will have to add to my list of things to see and do – again, in Rome.

Ceiling of St. Ignazio by Andrea Pozzo
There are usually notices posted here about upcoming concerts of classical music, so if that’s your thing, keep your eyes open when you are in the area.

Sant’Ignazio
Via del Caravita, 8a, 00186 Roma, Italy

All materials ©PennySadler 2013. All rights reserved.

Travel To Escape Reality

Beautiful doorway with flower pots in small town in Chianti, Tuscany @PennySadler 2013

Have you ever booked a last minute trip to a place that was several time zones away, where people don’t speak English, don’t use the same currency – and if you’re truly honest with yourself about the whole thing, you can’t afford it?

Have you ever spent a ridiculous amount of money just to get away from your life and all the things that go with it?

I’m considering doing just that. I need to get out of my own head. I need a break from the person I’ve become the past few months, feeling like a hamster on the wheel.

I’ve tried breathing, exercising, talking to friends, making gratitude lists, and it all works for a little while, but not long.

Tuscan country house, Chianti, Italy. @PennySadler 2013

“Must it be out of the country?” I ask myself. It would be easier to stay in the U.S. I wouldn’t have to change currency, deal with the long flights, the plane changes, the jet lag from crossing several times zones. I wouldn’t have to worry about roaming charges or keeping up with my passport, and I could speak English. But of course, my thoughts generally go to Italy.

But I can justify all of those inconveniences. In my mind, speaking a little Italian is a pleasure, and the worst thing about the euro is my dollars are worth less. I can call my cell phone provider and have roaming temporarily disconnected.

I don’t love the jet lag, but I know I’ll live, I’ve done it before.

Charming street in Trastevere, Rome, Italy. @PennySadler 2013

So I’m thinking maybe the way out of my funk, maybe the way I get “my groove back” is to go to Italy. I can visualize myself walking down some ancient cobblestone street, camera in hand, thousands of years of history all around me. I notice everything around me, sculptures by Bernini, 17th century buildings next to 12th century ruins. I notice people and try to guess where they might be from – are they tourists, like me, or locals? I eat a gelato and I don’t think about the calories or the fact that it’s dairy and I shouldn’t eat too much dairy. Dairy be damned! I’m in Italy! Without even being conscious of it, I begin to feel better – more attractive, more a part of the world. I’m living life, not going through the motions.

The parts of myself that stress me out begin to recede. Along the way I find the better parts, the Penny who is fun, and funny, and spontaneous, and curious, and who knows, it is insane to resist what is. And sometimes all it takes is a complete stranger who smiles and says, “Ciao Bella,” – or a cappuccino.
Italian style cappuccino @PennySadler 2103

All material copyright Penny Sadler 2013. All rights reserved.

Postcard: Panzano in Chianti

Panzano in Chianti @PennySadler 2013 all rights reserved

Santa Maria Asunta

Panzano is located in the region of Chianti, famous for the beautiful scenery: winding hills, stone farmhouses, tall cypress trees, and of course, the famous Chianti Classico wines.

Architecturally it is mostly a new town, though there are a few remains of Roman ruins, the old castello, and the church, Santa Maria Assunta, which crowns the hill in the old part of the town. The church was built in the 14th century over the ruins of another church.

In this photograph, you see the perspective looking up the hill toward Santa Maria Assunta. There are local residences and business on each side of the street. This is the oldest part of Chianti and though small, very very charming.

It’s a lovely spot to locate yourself for a vacation in the Tuscan countryside as you can easily reach Siena, Florence, or Lucca from Panzano. You’ll need a car to really see the countryside, or you can hire a driver, and just sit back and enjoy the scenery. You can also take the bus from Panzano to Florence. Be sure to check the schedules carefully as they change depending on the season.

Panzano is also known for two important festivals each year. April 25 is Festa della Stagion Buona, Italy’s national holiday and the beginning of “the good season.”

The other is Vino al Vino the wine festival held the third weekend in September. The dates for 2013 are September 12 – 15. The festival is held in Piazza Bucciarelli, and includes live jazz music and, of course, tastings of the local wines.

For more about Panzano you may like my post Panzano in Pictures.

All materials copyright PennySadler 2013. All rights reserved.

The Best Way To See Art Deco Architecture in South Beach

The Starlite Hotel, Collins Ave., SB, Miami @PennySadler 2013

South Beach. Miami, Florida:
Quick, tell me – what do you think of? If you know nothing about the area at all, you probably think of the obvious: beaches, the ocean, palm trees, sunshine, and fruity drinks decorated with tiny paper umbrellas.

What you may not know is South Beach has the largest collection of art deco architecture in the world! And it’s the perfect place for it – it’s as if South Beach exists so that all of those wonderful art deco structures can have a home. South Beach is art deco, and art deco is South Beach.

What is art deco? The term art deco came from the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, held in Paris in 1925. It is a style that blends many design elements from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Geometry, vertical lines, curved lines, round porthole windows, and strong colors define the more modern art deco designs of South Beach.

@PennySadler 2013 art deco architecture miami

Ocean Drive, Miami

This neighborhood was built in the 1930’s and after World War II, was in decline. By the 1970’s many of the art deco hotels and buildings were seriously rundown and where scheduled for the wrecking ball. Luckily in 1976, Barbara Capitman founded the Design Preservation League to establish this area as an historic district. Today there are still buildings that are being renovated.

The design elements that define art deco are a perfect fit in this easy, breezy beach environment. Come to think of it, even the colors of the buildings remind you of those umbrella drinks.

art deco hotel with Mermaid sculpture South Beach Florida @PennySadler 2013

Mermaid sculpture

Each building is a work of art on its own, and the best way to see the Art Deco district is on foot. Begin at the south end of Ocean Drive at 5th Street and walk north. The beach will be on your right.

Walk up to Lincoln Rd., then head west over to Collins. From there, you can continue south to about 10th St. You’ll want to head back to Lincoln Rd. for one of the best outdoor shopping malls anywhere – and lots of options to gawk at all the beautiful people that seem to be everywhere.

Miami, South Beach, Florida

The Miami Design Preservation League has a guided tour which you can do solo or in a group. If you want to do the tour on your own, you can rent an iPod at the Art Deco Headquarters on Ocean Drive. The MDPL also offers guided tours that include other areas of Miami. All tours depart from the Art Deco Headquarters, 1001 Ocean Drive at 10th Street.

Waldorf Towers,South Beach Miami Florida @PennySadler 2013

Waldorf Towers

I did not take the tour, however, based on the research I did for this story, it seems that not every building is on the tour. Be sure to allow yourself time to really explore this neighborhood. After, or maybe even during your walk, you’ll want to take a break and sample some of the local cuisine, have a refreshing beverage, do some retail damage in the boutiques, and enjoy the luscious architecture.

If you love traveling to see great architecture and public spaces, you will love South Beach.

Park Central Hotel, Ocean Drive, South Beach, Miami @PennySadler 2013

Park Central Hotel

The Breakwater Hotel @PennySadler 2013

The Breakwater Hotel, Ocean Drive

Art Deco shopping strip 9th st. and Collins Ave. @PennySadler 2013

9th and Collins Ave.

For a map of the area stop by
Art Deco Headquarters at 1001 Ocean Drive. There’s also a fun gift store there.