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Jazzhus Montmartre: The Legend Continues

By Published: May 13, 2010
The New Montmartre: A Manifesto
For a long time, it seemed like Montmartre would be a finished chapter in the history of Danish and European jazz, but on February 22 2010, the Danish jazz pianist Niels Lan Doky
Niels Lan Doky
Niels Lan Doky
and his friend, media executive and entrepreneur Rune Bech announced that they would re-open the club at its original location in St. Regnegade 19. It was revealed that the new Montmartre will be run as a non-profit venture with an ambitious musical profile that will aim to re-insert Montmartre on the map of Europe's greatest jazz clubs. To achieve this goal, Lan Doky and Bech have written a manifesto that acts as a guideline for the club. It includes eight guiding principles that read as follows:
  1. A cultural institution of international class
    Stemming from our love for jazz music and the iconic place that Montmartre holds in the history of jazz, we want to re-create this legendary jazz place as a one of a kind in the world—giving Copenhagen and Denmark a new cultural institution of international caliber.

  2. World class jazz
    Montmartre will showcase world class jazz thus attracting true jazz lovers from all over the globe; choosing Copenhagen as destination for this unique experience with its intimate atmosphere.

  3. Spotting of new talents
    Montmartre will present famous jazz personalities on stage but we also see it as our core mission to spot, develop and present new, undiscovered jazz talents of international class.

  4. Paradise for life lovers
    Montmartre will combine sumptuous yet affordable food and wine to match outstanding jazz events, thus offering quality life lovers a mecca in Copenhagen in this historic club setting with a cozy and sincere ambience.

  5. Non-profit principles
    We have established Montmartre on non-profit principles in order for all income from the club to stay within the club to create even greater events for the public. In the same way the leaseholder of the club's café is committed to donate half of the food and beverage profits to the club.

  6. Own donation
    The money, time and effort we as founders have put into founding the new Montmartre is a gift that we do not wish to get back—it is our donation to the club so it can go on creating top jazz events in Copenhagen in the years to come.

  7. Invitation for goodwill
    We invite private and public companies and organizations—as well as passionate individuals—to donate to Montmartre in the same way and spirit.

  8. A warm and special spirit
    Montmartre should be known for its warm, welcoming and homely atmosphere, attracting good people that follow their heart in life.

Opening Night
With these eight principles, the scene was set for the club's opening on May 1 2010 where the drum phenomena Jeff "Tain" Watts led a Scandinavian All-Star Band playing his own compositions. Before the band entered the stage, Niels Lan Doky, Rune Bech and the British filmmaker Riz Merchant, who is the daily manager of the club, told about the project and welcomed the audience to participate in the opening of the club and then the real party started when the musicians began to play.

The founders of the new Montmartre: Rune Bech (right) and Niels Lan Doky (left) with the general manager of the club, Riz Merchant (middle)

Watts began with "Wry Köln" which introduced a drum solo that immediately showed his advanced skills on his instrument. He made the snare and cymbals sing in a polyphonic groove that paved the way for the rest of the band to enter with a frontline of horn players working up a sweat from the start. It was an all Swedish horn line-up with trombonist Vincent Nilsson, fiery trumpeter Anders Bergcrantz and the Coltrane-inspired tenor saxophonist Tomas Franck doing a very good job of keeping up with the energetic Watts whose sheer life force shone out of him.

The program was varied with a healthy mixture of ballads and up-tempo grooves. Tunes like "Muphkin Man" and "Return of the Jitney Man" swung solidly and gave plenty of space for solo endeavors. In fact, the groove was so spellbinding that Watts, at the end of first set, exclaimed with a grin "nice groove I'm having here. I don't wanna stop." The same thing seemed to be the case with the band which really enjoyed itself and responded positively to the good vibe that came from the smiling audience tapping their feet.

Jeff "Tain" Watts with his Scandinavian All-Star Band playing at the new Montmartre

The second set was even better than the first. The soul-jazz of "Katrina James," a number which can be found on the acclaimed release simply titled Watts (Dark Key Music, 2009) emphasized how Watts seamlessly integrates different strains of musical genres into his writing, covering everything from blues to jazz, gospel and soul. His Danish rhythm section of bassist Morten Ramsbøl and pianist Jacob Christoffersen followed his every move and especially Christoffersen more than one time caught approving nods from the leader when soloing.

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