Heard on CultureShift

A New Curator at Cliff Bell’s Brings Detroit Jazz Back to the Stage

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Image credit: Ryan Patrick Hooper

Jazz musician Noah Jackson is the new curator and creative director at Cliff Bell’s, where he also performs as an artist-in-residence. He’s joined by new chef Aaron Solley for a refreshed take on the downtown staple for live jazz.

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A new curator at downtown jazz club Cliff Bell’s is putting the spotlight on local musicians.

As a bassist himself, Noah Jackson knows the Detroit jazz scene well. As the new curator, artist-in-residence and creative director, he’s already brought homegrown talent like drummer Gayelynn McKinney, the Allen Dennard Trio and Wendell Harrison to the stage since the club reopened this spring. 

Noah Jackson is the curator, creative director and artist-in-residence at Cliff Bell's in downtown Detroit.Courtesy of Noah Jackson / Cliff Bell's
Courtesy of Noah Jackson / Cliff Bell’s

Noah Jackson is the curator, creative director and artist-in-residence at Cliff Bell’s in downtown Detroit.

You don’t necessarily know what you’re missing until it’s gone. Once you remove that element of one’s creative life, you say, ‘oh wait, that’s a big part of your whole creative ecosystem.’” — Noah Jackson, on the return of live music

The return of live music has been refreshing for Jackson and the musicians who call Detroit home that are returning to their art deco stage downtown.

You can’t just have people playing for the sake of playing. You need an audience that appreciates that and supports that, too,” says Jackson, who performs a residency on Wednesday nights at Cliff Bell’s in addition to booking the talent.

The venue has also refreshed their menu with the help of a new chef. Chef Aaron Solley arrives from Craft Work, a West Village staple that closed in early 2020. In an interview with The Detroit News, Solley described the new menu as “modern takes on classic supper club cuisine.”

Other shows in June include Detroit multi-instrumentalist Rafael Leafar and national touring guitarist Slim Gambill and the Alex Harding Organ Trio.

Reservations and tickets for shows at Cliff Bell’s are available at cliffbells.com.


Listen: Noah Jackson talks about how Cliff Bell’s is “upping the game.”


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Ryan Patrick Hooper, Host, CultureShift

Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. As a longtime arts and culture reporter and photographer, Hooper has covered stories for NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.

hooper@wdet.org Follow @HooperRadio

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