Monday, April 15, 2024

Jazz Night at The Ottawa Tavern

Musician Brad Billmaier knows Toledo is a special city for jazz. With the current jazz musicians gracing our town along with those who have become famous and have called Toledo their home, it’s important to Billmaier to keep jazz alive in Toledo. As part of that effort, he hosts “Jazz Night” at The Ottawa Tavern, 1815 Adams St., every Monday evening.

Jazz Night: inception

Billmaier is a Toledo-based working drummer who performs with a variety of groups, including the Amelia Airharts. Billmaier has strong roots in jazz which led him to organize the communal event of playing Jazz on a regular basis.  “I wanted a space not only for myself and the people I was working with to be able to hang out, perform, workshop new ideas, etc., but I was really interested in getting more of the community involved, including music students,” he explains.

Jazz Night came to fruition after chatting with Zack Jacobs, owner of The Ottawa Tavern, in summer 2021. The Uptown location made sense with accessibility to local music students,  just down the street from Toledo School for the Arts and only a few miles from the University of Toledo.

Schedule change

Jazz Night was held twice a month but moved to its current weekly schedule for consistency and due to demand. “We were really glad to make that happen. But that also means for the sake of the Toledo jazz community (and beyond), it allows more playing opportunities if musicians are looking for any Monday night gigs,” Billmaier explained. 

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Participating musicians rotate for Jazz Night, with players predominantly from the Toledo area. However, Billmaier also brings in players from out of town, providing a different perspective on the music and facilitating networking. 

Jazz’s presence in Toledo

Jazz is one of the oldest artforms in America.. Keeping jazz alive is  “something that’s near and dear to me,” Billmaier explains, adding, “With jazz in Toledo, there’s this general sense of having a ‘modern touch’ to it and being a little more explorative with the genre. We’re interested in seeing how far we can push the envelope from time to time. The fact that The Ottawa Tavern allows us to have this night at such a frequency is a very special thing. It’s important for me to help keep jazz alive for the community —playing it and witnessing it.”

Billmaier invites any musician to be involved, saying  “bring your instrument down to the OT on Monday nights. . .  It’s more a come-as-you-are thing and we’ll try to get you onstage.” 

The Ottawa Tavern. 1815 Adams St, Toledo, OH 43604. Every Monday night. 7pm to 10pm.

Tanner Wertz

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