SmallsLIVE/Mezzrow Newsletter, February 12th, “11 Years!”

SmallsLIVE/Mezzrow Newsletter
February 12th, 2018

  • time is a thief
    a thief of love, breath and living
    life slips away on cat’s feet
    silent it goes without fanfare
    almost unnoticed, youth fades to old
    with wrinkles, fear and desperation
    and far too soon we have much behind and little ahead
    we mark the passing of time but time
    passes us, finally
    confused, eyes unclear and hands unsteady
    ears are dulled but still can hear the ticking of the clock
    the mind is diminished now
    forgetting more than remembering
    once familiar faces are now but strangers
    in a strange world
    youth demands dignity with strength
    no strength or dignity for the aged
    life begins, is and ends with but a single
    tick of the clock
    time is a thief of precious life
    never to be recovered
    only in fairy tales do dreams come true
  • Joseph White
Dear Friends:
This week marks 11 years that I mortgaged my tiny apartment in Harlem and became partners with Mitch Borden, effectively becoming the manager/owner of Smalls Jazz Club.  At that time I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Smalls, which opened in 1994, was already an enormous part of my life – the center of my musical life and the place that I hung out nightly and played steadily with my band.  I felt strongly that if I didn’t get involved the club would be in danger of closing forever.  The loss of Smalls to me was an unbearable thought and drove me to make one of the biggest decisions of my life.  I remember speaking with my father about it when I was still on the fence about whether to buy in or not.  My pop, a strict disciplinarian and professor, had spent a life in academics.  I was at this time finishing my MFA at the State University with the idea that I could follow in his footsteps and teach in college.  I came to him and asked him his advice – do I finish the degree and get a teaching job or do I buy the jazz club?  I braced for what I was sure his answer would be – a scolding lecture about “getting a real life” and following his path into a life of academics.  To my surprise he responded; “Son, buy the bar…”.  I was incredulous.  He continued: “be a trash collector or whatever else, but whatever you do, don’t go into academics – it’s a nightmare.”  He didn’t wish his life on me or anyone.  I was stunned but went ahead and followed his sage advice.  From that moment my life changed in ways I could never have anticipated – it was a crash course in bar management, taxes, inventory, bill paying and not to mention having my feet held to the fire by every jazz musician in town who viewed me with skepticism.  I had made my bed and now it was time for me to lay in it.  I thought to myself – “five years max and I’m out” – famous last words…

So now, the time has breezed by.  I can’t recall a thing.  Each day is a present moment, ever unfolding.  My partner, the ageless Mitch Borden, is still here – inspiring me with his joyful positivity and unflagging optimism.  My incredible staff, many of them now here for nearly as long as me, inspire me as well.  But most importantly, it is the musicians – this beautiful, dysfunctional family of jazz musicians who come night after night to hang, smoke, talk shit and play the most beautiful and profound music created anywhere in the world.  There’s never one night where I don’t sit from the precipice of my chair at the bottom of the stairs and look into the fray – the joyful din of the crowds, the bartenders slinging gin and tonics and the music roaring from the stage.  That beautiful photo of Louis Armstrong still hangs there 24 years later, beaming approvingly at the scene.  I can only look out into that sea of music and humanity and say my silent prayer: “Dear Lord, I thank Thee for this wonderful opportunity.  Please grant me the strength to run this club with patience and grace for the betterment of all Humanity”.  Blessings upon blessings heaped on me – how could I be so lucky?  Eleven years now?  Just gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.




Monday – 2/12
Micah Thomas with
Dean Torrey & Kyle Benford

 Doors @ 7:30 PM
Seatings at 8 and 9:30 PM

Pasquale Grasso “After-hours” @ 11 PM

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:


Tuesday – 2/13
Vocalist Sasha Dobson

 Doors @ 7:30 PM
Seatings at 8 and 9:30 PM

Mezzrow “Polite Jam Session” @ 11 PM

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:


Wednesday – 2/14
Sheila Jordan with
John DiMartino & Harvie S

Doors @ 7:30 PM
Seatings at 
8 & 9:30 PM
Pete Malinverni “After-hours” @ 11 PM

To advance purchase a reserved seat click:






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