Black-Eyed Sally’s walls are covered from front to back with blues and rock legends like Buddy Guy, Hendrix, Elvis and Stevie Ray Vaughn, but every Monday night the lights are dimmed down, the candles are lit and the smooth sounds of jazz fill the air.
On Monday, Feb. 9, the Kris Jensen Quartet was swinging away as couples were sprinkled through the dining area enjoyed the house’s barbeque and whatever else looked tasty on the menu. The people at the bar, who greatly outnumbered the diners, sat and watched Jensen and his quartet breeze though songs like “Body and Soul” and Freddy Hubbard’s “Birdlike”.
The atmosphere was comfortable and the bar seemed decent, but it was obvious that almost everyone was there to see the band. Peter Greenfogel, a personal friend of Jensen and the rest of the quartet consisting of Steve Porter, Craig Hartley and Ben Bilello, said there weren’t too many places he knew of to hear America’s greatest contribution to music.
“I’m only here for the jazz,” said Steve Nebbia, who is a regular at jazz nights, and added that he didn’t even Black-Eyed Sally’s Presents Perfect Atmosphere for Jazz bother looking for any other venues since every Monday night at Sally’s was always a guaranteed solid performance.
There is no cover at the door, so the experience won’t even cost a dime. The patrons are friendly if newcomers are in the mood for conversation.
“I’m still trying to get the kinks out, you know, getting over these winter doldrums,” said Jensen, on the tenor sax, in between songs. Ironically, by the sound of the band, it didn’t seem like they had many cobwebs to dust off.
The stage appearances from week to week, depending on who decides to play. Sometimes a musician will decide to play a couple of weeks in row, such as the night’s piano player Craig Hartley does. It is rare that these musicians disappoint.
Sally’s is an easy-to-reach place and a laid-back venue apart from the insurance company-laden streets of downtown Hartford.
These are seasoned veterans coming out to perform, so if you’re attracted to Sally’s for the jazz, which you should be, expect some of Connecticut’s best.
Black-Eyed Sally’s BBQ and Blues. 350 Asylum Street. Hartford, Conn. 06103
-Charles Desrochers, Staff Writer