Denver residents can thank the jazz standard “Harlem Nocturne” for inspiring drummer Scott Mattson to open a new jazz and supper club with his wife, Nicole.

The couple plans to open the club – dubbed Nocturne – March 9 in Denver’s River North neighborhood.

“Nocturne means ‘night song,’ and the idea was to give this town a brand new place to go late at night,” Mattson told Colorado Public Radio (CPR).

Mattson and his wife hope to fan the flames of Denver’s longstanding legacy as a jazz hub. Nocturne will offer live music six nights a week. In addition to food and drink costs, patrons will pay $5-$10 to enjoy the music. Mattson has promised to pay each act $100 per gig regardless of the crowd size.

“We have dozens and dozens of cats who are looking for work, and they’re as good as anyone is,” Mattson told CPR.

Seventy-three year old pianist Purnell Steen remembers when the Five Points neighborhood was hailed “The Harlem of the Rockies.”

Joints such as Rossonian Lounge, Voters Club and Lil’s drew the jazz greats – including Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis – to perform at the Mile High City.

“And then for about 15 years, Colfax was the center of jazz in Denver,” Steen told CPR. “It was great. Music was everywhere and one could play five nights a week.”

But today, times have changed and opening a jazz club in Denver is not without its risk.

KUVO Music Director Arturo Gomez told CPR that opening a club is hit or miss with so many other options for dining and entertainment in Denver.

“It’s just not easy,” Gomez said. “Honestly, I would not want to be in the management of a jazz club. The business side of it kind of scares me.”

But success is possible, as demonstrated by local club Dazzle Jazz. Offering live music every night of the week, Dazzle Jazz books most gigs months in advance.

Here’s to hoping Nocturne can make its mark as another success story of Denver’s jazz scene!

“We need to continue spreading awareness of jazz and promoting jazz as a culture of the U.S.,” Gomez told NPR. “And the youth need to help carry the torch into the future.”

Hear CPR’s full story here. Visit Nocturne’s website here.

Photo credit: Information from Colorado Public Radio.

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