Live Music Returns to Wally’s Cafe with Performances by Berklee Faculty, Alumni, and Students

Kevin Harris, associate professor of piano, is leading the legendary jazz club’s house band.

September 23, 2022

After a two-year closure due to the pandemic, Boston's iconic Wally’s Cafe Jazz Club recently reopened, with Kevin Harris, an associate professor in Berklee's Piano Department, leading the house band. Harris's band, Sphere 427, which features saxophonist Noah Preminger, bassist Max Ridley B.M. ’16 M.M. ’17, and drummer Tyson Jackson ’19, a teacher at the Berklee City Music High School Academy, is performing at the club every Friday and Saturday at 10:00 p.m. In its first weekend show, the quartet was joined by drummer Ilya Blazh, a current student in Berklee's Master of Music in global jazz program. 

“Since 1947, Wally’s Jazz Cafe has been one of the best scenes in Boston to hear renowned musicians as well as rising talent. From jazz and blues to Afro-Latin, funk, and swing, skilled professional musicians have performed their musical explorations while providing mentorship to younger musicians,” said Harris. “Many aspiring musicians have walked through the doors of Wally’s and, by observing and imitating, have discovered and enhanced their ability to communicate at a highly creative level on their instrument. Boston is very fortunate to have this historic landmark reopening its doors and contributing again to these valuable traditions.”

Founded by Joseph L. Walcott in 1947, Wally's is Boston’s oldest Black-owned jazz club. It's hosted performances from a who’s who in jazz, from Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Dexter Gordon, and Roy Haynes to Terri Lyne Carrington B.M. ’83, esperanza spalding B.M. ’05, Branford Marsalis ’81, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah B.M. ’05, Walter Beasley ’84, and Roy Hargrove ’89, among others. 

“It means so much to us having the students and faculty back performing at Wally's Cafe. We have an organic and symbiotic relationship with the musicians from your world-class institution,” said Frank Poindexter, Wally’s general manager and Walcott’s grandson. “Wally's wouldn't be Wally's were it not for the great musicians being trained and educated at Berklee. We thrive on being a place where the musicians can put into practice what they are learning at the college, but also facilitating lifelong networks between the students, faculty, and alumni."

Now back to being open seven days a week, Wally’s is showcasing a different genre of music each night: funk and R&B on Sundays; world music on Wednesdays, with Francisco Mela, a Cuban percussionist and Berklee associate professor; and the Latin jazz and salsa band the Timba Messengers on Thursdays. For more information, visit wallyscafe.com.

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