Dapper dandies and dolls rollicked and rejoiced as the dim lights shone over Jazz, TX during its soft opening Saturday night. It was the first time the dance floor of the long-awaited jazz club was put to use as cocktail tables, suede arm chairs, and high-top bar stools were filled by enthusiasts of either the man, the music, or everything about this space – a vanguard for live music in our city.
Perhaps just as Brent "Doc" Watkins, owner and bandleader, had intended it, the atmosphere indeed is reminiscent of the chic sultry of underground New York. Guests walked downstairs into an elevator hangar entryway where curtains unveiled a rich scene of vivacity and verve. Waitresses hustled about with fried quail wings and brisket tacos while bow-tie bound boys mingled with glittering gals.
The dim light provides a welcome contrast to the illuminated hill country scene behind the stage of jazz cats with cowboy boots and hospitable smiles, making guests feel right at home both in the club and in the Alamo City.
“Lying at the crossroads of many cultures, San Antonio has always been a town where various music traditions come together,” Watkins said. “This rich history sets the scene for a club where jazz meets Texas and for what promises to be a unique experience.”
The soft opening, a veritable VIP affair, took place only a few days before the club’s official opening week, which begins Aug. 23 and will welcome the public from 7 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets can be purchased here and are highly recommended as space is limited and demand high.
Each night will feature Doc Watkins and His Orchestra, in various ensembles, but indubitably swinging hard and providing a gallant air through Watkins’ charismatic rapport with the crowd. “That was our trombonist featured on the last tune, he built this stage with his bare hands,” Watkins said after a wailing solo during the orchestra’s set. “He’s also spent more time than any other man I know in the women’s restroom, as he did all the trim in there as well.”
Drinks come with a little twist, such as the Ensemble, a take on a classic Old Fashioned that has muddled peaches, basil, and enough kick to get even the most bashful dancer out on the floor. The bar and cocktail menu is overseen by Jazz, TX Manager Jake Corney, who is best known for his work at Bohanan’s, and the menu’s Hill Country fare is curated by Lorenzo Morales of Arcade Midtown Kitchen and The Last Word.
The evening was replete with all shades of San Antonio, whether there to sit back and listen or jump up and participate in the inspiration of the big band’s thick Basie riffs, with a tinge of Ellington’s class and Kenton’s firework antics. At home in the basement of the original bottling department of the Pearl brewery, Jazz, TX evokes a debonair feeling that is sure to permeate San Antonio, TX in the weeks, months, and years to come.
Top Image: Couples take to the dance floor during the Jazz, TX soft opening. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.