Melbourne will get a new jazz venue, Blue Basement, early next year. It’s already got a remarkable stamp of approval: an artistic partnership with New York City’s iconic Birdland club, which hosted everyone from Miles Davis to Billie Holiday during its original run, and which has thrived in its modern incarnation.
Founded and run by Albert Dadon, former artistic director of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Blue Basement will be a sister club to Birdland and exchange artist bookings. Blue Basement will also stand out among Melbourne’s bar-dominated jazz scene by offering a dinner-and-show format with a full Italian restaurant, and shows at 8pm and 10pm nightly.
The 200-seat “amphitheatre-style” venue is part of a William Street precinct that’s been shaped by Dadon’s real-estate development company, Ubertas Group. The purpose-built basement club has been planned for years, situated beneath more than 500 apartments and next to a five-star hotel, slated to open in 2018.
“I always knew I was going to do a club there,” says Dadon. “We decided to get the club going now, so by the time the hotel is ready the whole precinct will be completed.” The entrance will be on Singers Lane – “With a name like that, we couldn’t resist,” he quips – with the exit via William Street.
The new venue is more good news for jazz fans, following Bennetts Lane’s surprise reopening after a closing earlier in the year.
While there will be a solid mix of local and international talent on the calendar, the music won’t be limited to jazz.
“Jazz is front and centre, but it’s wider than that,” he says, citing plans to include Latin music and other styles. “Good music: that’s what I’d like it to be.”
Blue Basement will open at 350 William Street, Melbourne in February 2016.