Jazz Bakery loses lease, seeks new site
May 31 will be the club's last day at Helms Bakery complex. A fall reopening is planned.
Wistful notes continue to flow at the Jazz Bakery. But their spontaneous and tuneful cadence will soon be idle as the club, one of L.A.'s most venerable jazz institutions, prepares to close its Culver City location May 31.
"The one sure thing is that we're definitely reopening in the fall," Ruth Price, proprietor of the nonprofit club and a former jazz vocalist, told The Times Friday -- although where that will be no one knows.
The venue's lease will expire at the end of May, said Price, who was notified five days ago, adding that the building will probably be turned into a furniture store.
Price, who has been on a month-to-month lease for the last few years, is seeking a new site, preferably on the Westside. She said a string of jazz presentations will be held at various locations over the summer in an effort to maintain the Jazz Bakery's presence.
Performances through the end of May are expected to continue as scheduled.
"There's no animosity about this," Price said. "The sad, but perhaps fortunate, thing is that we're doing very well. Yes, we feel the economic downturn, but we've had some sold-out nights and things are going well."
The Jazz Bakery was once a small, box-shaped, white-walled room next to the Helms Bakery building near Venice Boulevard. At the time, guests -- facing the stage in rows of white plastic chairs -- enjoyed performances by local artists and traveling acts two nights a week. It relocated inside the former bakery 16 years ago and has featured an impressive lineup of world-class musicians seven nights a week.
Along with Catalina Bar & Grill, it is one of the few remaining clubs in the area that draws nationally touring jazz performers. In its rich booking history, the venue frequently challenged its Hollywood counterpart with adventurous choices from the new guard such as Wayne Horvitz and Bill Frisell.
Among those slated to perform in the coming months are the Eric Reed Trio, Dwight Trible and Russell Malone.
Times staff writer Chris Barton contributed to this report.
Photo: Los Angeles Times