By Gregory Burrus | Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2017
As many know the city of Newark is experiencing a tremendous rebirth right before our eyes. The airport is experiencing increases in travel, the sports arena has a lot more visitors and the real estate environment is changing and growing fast. This means many new places for folks to experience like the former Hahne & Co. department store in Newark. It is now being redeveloped with a new Whole Foods supermarket, office space and rental apartments, and all of this will soon become a part of the city’s arts community.
Newark Is Going Through A Renaissance
Per NJ.com - Rutgers University approved a $25 million plan to lease three floors of the sprawling building to provide studio, classroom and gallery space for campus arts programs, in partnership with Newark artists, schools and other institutions. Rutgers Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor, stated: “We are really intent on making collaborative spaces with the community.” She said the project—to be called Express Newark—is expected to spark new shops, galleries and restaurant in the Halsey Street neighborhood that borders the Hahnes building. “It will make a big difference,” she said.
The university said it has plans to use the new space as an arts incubator, with space for a communications media center, a print shop, portrait studio, lecture hall and gallery space. Cantor said the building will also host the university’s Institute of Jazz Studies.
Partners Sponsors New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC)
In addition to the Rutgers Institute of Jazz, another entertainment-focused venue, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), the spectacular live entertainment center of New Jersey, is doing their part, too. They intend to be a key player in the renaissance of Newark in many ways and one of them is through live Jazz. In partnership with the Rutgers Institute of Jazz, NJPAC is sponsoring several free Jazz Jams at the newly opened entertainment venue in a Rutgers building called Clements Place.
Clement Alexander Price, Newark Historian
Clement Alexander Price (RIP 2014) was an American historian and Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of History at Rutgers University.
To understand how it all comes together, the story becomes personal for many. Personal in that many Newark folks are aware of a man called Clement Alexander Price, 1945-2014. A highly-regarded article stated: “Clement Alexander Price, a distinguished history professor who fell in love with Newark, a city some thought unlovable, and went on to write books and articles about it, as well as to lead tours, brief journalists and shamelessly promote it…” (The New York Times, "Clement A. Price, A Cheerleader for Newark, Dies at 69," Nov. 9, 2014).
It is because of his intense dedication to his love of Newark that he was the leading authority on Newark's history. Upon his passing, many felt a loss in their lives because many folks in and around Newark felt a personal connection with him. One way to honor him was the opening of a place in a Rutgers Newark building called Clements Place. It was announced as “New N.J. jazz lounge celebrates historian's love of Newark.” "It's a tribute to him, but it is also forward-looking, as he would want it to be," said Wayne Winborne, the Executive Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark. "We are just getting started, but we are very excited about the future of this place." Eventually, Winborne said, the space will host more concerts, curated listening sessions of the school's jazz archives, and salsa nights.
Clements Place Intimate Jazz Environment
Having attended several events at the recently opened club and performance space located at Rutgers University-Newark’s 15 Washington Street building, Clements Place is a true tribute to the man. Wayne Winborne stated, “the space [...] is decorated with art from Price's personal collection and some awards that he received throughout his life, that will evoke fond memories of the well-loved historian.” At one of my first jazz events, Wayne fondly recounted a few Clement Price memories, including the chair at the end of the bar where Clement Price use to sit.
Clements Place is a venue for Jazz and music events in a Rutgers Building in Newark, New Jersey. It is a very classy cabaret-style venue with a cozy atmosphere. It has very good natural acoustics which means a great sound system, a warm room with an intimate setting, and helpful and friendly staff. This beautifully appointed environment is perfectly suited to a true jazz lover.
World Class Jazz Musicians
In addition, the curated Jazz acts are of a very high caliber as they are hosted and run by top notch professional musicians. They have selected some of the most prominent musicians from New Jersey and beyond, as well as talented students seeking to play alongside their musical heroes. In some cases, some the best musicians around the world come in, conduct jam sessions, attend, and participate in the events. Combine their expertise with that of the up and coming musicians from the school and the community, and it makes for a fantastic listening environment.
With top notch artists from around the country, one comes, expects, and will get the best in Jazz sessions. “The presentation of jazz artists have come from Italy, Newark, New York and Havana, through the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce. It is extraordinary,” said NJPAC Vice President of Community Engagement Donna Walker-Kuhne. “We appreciate the cultural programming that the Chamber of Commerce, our longtime collaborator, continues to support at NJPAC.”
Jazz jams are currently run by Musician, Producer, Composer and Pianist James Austin Jr. who has curated the jam sessions with some of the best local musicians of the area. He runs them efficiently and brings out the best in everyone. In addition to the Jazz Jams, there are shows that bring groups from Havana, featuring César López & Habana Ensemble. Recently they did a show that contained Mark Gross, Delfeayo Marsalis, Benito Gonzalez, Joris Teepe and many other people. We will talk more about the performances in an upcoming article.
As you can see, Clements place has the connection of a prominent individual, a beautiful historic location, a perfect jazz listening environment, committed business and community sponsors along with being under the direction of the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies. All involved are firmly committed to the growth of the environment. Next time you are around town for upcoming performances, check out their Facebook Page: Clements Place Jazz Events.
About the Writer
Gregory Burrus, Photojournalist, with Wayne Winborne, Executive Director of Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers.
Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians, and local art exhibitions. Gregory is a manager and promoter of the South Orange Village Center Alliance Downtown After Sundown Live Music Events, Board Member of the North Jersey Blues Alliance, Friend of the Valley Arts District in Orange, NJ and avid supporter of jazz, blues and art all around our towns and the Greater New York, New Jersey area. On a regular basis, Gregory gets the word out through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photojournalism.