Prairie Moon and Chicago Jazz Collective Host Weekly Jazz Nights
In partnership with Fulton Street Collective, a Chicago artists’ space, Prairie Moon hosts local musicians for jazz nights every Wednesday in October.
Robert Strom, owner of Prairie Moon said he had been involved in live jazz programs for years. Before Prairie Moon, he opened Pete Miller’s Seafood and Prime Steak, a steakhouse in the now-closed Evanston Jazz Club, which featured live jazz every night.
Strom said he was excited to bring live music back after the pandemic halted concerts and in-person dining for months.
“There’s something about jazz,” Strom said. “It takes an audience. The people who play, they work on each other, they work on the people who listen. It’s very interactive.
Since Pete Miller’s closure, Strom said Evanston lacked a vibrant jazz scene. He said even hearing live jazz evenings once a week was a joy for him.
By charging a $7 cover charge, Strom said he wanted to make live music as affordable as possible. Since Prairie Moon is located about a block from the Northwestern campus, Strom said he also wanted the events to be accessible to students.
Fulton Street group events and operations manager Chris Anderson said the band had partnered with Strom for more than 20 years at his former restaurant.
The organization’s partnership with Prairie Moon began around 2020. To help both the restaurant and the Collective survive the pandemic, the two have teamed up to offer virtual jazz concerts and dinner for two.
Anderson has worked with Strom to actively engage young people in jazz music. The organization prioritizes hosting young musicians, he said.
“I really like giving young musicians right out of college, or maybe even college, the opportunity to play,” Strom said. “In middle school, you learn to play the notes, but you don’t necessarily learn to play the notes in front of an audience.”
Prairie Moon hosted the Jimmy Farace Trio on Wednesday, whose titular member is a baritone jazz saxophonist and woodwind player. Farace performed with the Indiana All-Star Big Band and the Disneyland All-American College Band.
A Chicago-based musician, Farace is also currently pursuing a master’s degree in music at DePaul University.
“I love the huge emphasis jazz puts on individualism, having an individual voice that sounds like you,” Farace said. “You don’t see that in a ton of other art forms, especially the ones that are all instrumental.”
The trio aims to present jazz through “uncommon” instrumentation, according to Farace. They compose their own music, although the band often draws inspiration from famous jazz compilations like the Great American Songbook.
Farace said he enjoys performing in Evanston, describing Prairie Moon as a “musician-friendly” environment.
“(Prairie Moon) was like, ‘You can play whatever you want, as hard as you want,'” he said. “Being able to play music unhindered is really, really amazing. We’re really lucky to have a place like this.
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