Organic Tuesdays at Paris Blues
Falling in love is easy to do, once you’ve met the right person. If you want to fall in love with Harlem, go and introduce yourself to Rakiem Walker. Harlem’s heart has long been, and still remains its artists. There are a myriad of great places to see live music in Harlem, but sometimes you need to know where to look.
Alto-Saxophonist Rakiem Walker gigs at many places around town, including with Lou Reed’s Jazz All-Stars at The Shrine on Sunday nights and with his own fiery band, the Rakiem Walker Project, at the ultra-slick Red Rooster at 125th Street. Now every Tuesday night he will be hosting a soulful, thoughtful improv session at the tiny Harlem classic Paris Blues.
Working as a curator of sorts, each Tuesday Rakiem gathers an eclectic collection of established and hopeful jazz/soul musicians to come together a make some magic. In his own words, “this is not an open mic. If I don’t like it, you’re not getting up here.” Don’t be fooled by the stern words, Rakiem and his fellow musicians are some of the kindest, and most supportive artists I’ve met in the city to date. But the warning should also let you know that there is a level of discernment and expectation that you can trust- on a Tuesday night in Harlem, it’s gonna be good.
Give yourself a curfew. Drunk on the energy on stage, I was out till 2 am despite drinking only water. Free homemade cornbread and ziti put everybody right at home and nobody wanted to leave.
“Come prepared to be creative,” Rakiem said to me when he invited me last week. Whether you attend as artist or audience, I urge you to do the same.
Paris Blues is located at 2010 Adam Clayton Powell, between 121st and 122nd streets. Look for the blue lights.