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Tracking the Blue Whale for jazz in Little Tokyo

October 21, 2010 |  4:25 pm

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From a purely economic standpoint, opening a jazz club these days seems about as sustainable a maneuver as opening a bookstore (sadly). Still, jazz singer-turned-club owner Joon Lee hasn't let that harsh reality stop him, and in just 10 months of existence his club the Blue Whale has become one of the top spots in the city for jazz.

It's not what could be considered a traditional jazz space, and that goes from bargain-priced cover charges to a gallery-like performance space that feels more reminiscent of the downtown underground rock scene than any other L.A. jazz club. Even the seating takes an unexpected turn with a variety of free-roaming cushions taking the place of traditional tables.

"We have to enjoy it all together," Lee said of his club, which values intimacy for both the audience and the performers. "The only difference between musicians and listeners is we practice."

It may not be conventional, but maybe the unconventional is just what L.A. jazz needs.

Read my full story on the Blue Whale here.

-- Chris Barton

Photo: Drummer Lorca Hart leads the Lorca Hart Trio at the Blue Whale last week. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.

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