Before even planning an official trip to Doha, I knew that one of my first stops upon arriving in Qatar would be visiting the nightclub Jazz At Lincoln Center Doha in the St. Regis, West Bay. About a year ago I’d heard about the plans to open the nightclub, billed as the premier center for jazz music in the middle east, and knew that once I relocated to the UAE, Doha would be just a hop, skip and a jump away. Well, last week I finally got a chance to visit JALCD, and it was totally worth the wait!
Coming from NYC where I was a regular at Dizzy’s Club-Coca Cola, JALC’s jazz venue at the Time Warner Center situated on Columbus Circle, I’ve actually been very anxious to visit “Dizzy’s Doha”, as I affectionately call the nightclub at the St. Regis. I wondered how the club would compare to Dizzy’s itself, and I’m happy to say that the musical ambiance is a great complement to the JALC standard set in NYC. The whole experience is really very top shelf.
I can’t say that there are very many similarities between Dizzy’s and the spinoff in Doha when it comes to the nightclubs’ decor as each one has a distinct charm that suits the city it represents. For starters, the main visual attraction of Dizzy’s is the floor to ceiling spectacular panoramic view of Columbus Circle, Central Park and Trump International Hotel & Tower in front of which the band plays each night. I’ve been drawn in and mesmerized by this view on countless occasions and deem it an essential element in the wonderment of Dizzy’s musical magic. JALC Doha has no such view that I am aware of, yet possesses the quintessential grand old soul of NYC’s jazz lounges of yesteryear. While sipping on one of the signature cocktails, A Love Supreme, I literally daydreamed about the numerous jazz giants who are framed on the walls playing in a swank middle eastern speakeasy like this fifty years ago!
What I love about Dizzy’s Doha is that it is, in fact, a very classy and intimate setting for very good music. The accents of oak bannisters and plush carpets, red velvet drapes, candle lit lighting and cozy booth seating give the place a genuine VIP sensibility. I wouldn’t be surprised if Janet Jackson and her new Qatari love eventually found their way into JALCD for a jazzy night out under the radar!
The evening I decided to go, jazz pianist Amina Figarova was in residency with her Quintet and featured vocalist Charenee Wade. The beautiful thing about walking in and seeing the line up was that Charenee is a friend of mine from States and it was a beautiful, heartfelt surprise to run into one another on this side of the world! These type of unexpected gems of a moment make expat life so fulfilling and exciting, and we were both grateful for the Brooklyn/Qatar reunion!
It was quite lovely meeting Amina and band, which consisted of her husband Bart Platteau on flute, Ernie Hammes on trumpet, Jeroen Vierdeg on bass and Christiaan Strik on drums. Coming from NYC by way of Azerbaijan, as well the Netherlands and Luxembourg, this band brought the most internationally charming flavor to the swing in Doha! Amina led the band in original compositions as well as jazz standards which gave me the shot of authentic homegrown jazz that I went in search of. I arrived thirsty and ready to be intoxicated by some swinging music… and they were so amazing that, naturally, I showed up the next night for more good times– which is exactly what I got!
Charenee Wade ^^^^
When I left Dubai last Monday, one of the last things I bbm’d to a friend of mine before taking off was –This is gonna be the best trip ever!!! I do declare! 😀 – having nothing in particular planned but to read a couple of books and go hear some live jazz at Dizzy’s Doha. Little did I know what was in store in the way of good friends and unforgettable moments, in addition to the music that I know and love so well. I literally found a piece of home and a piece of myself while I was there! I returned to the UAE so full, so thankful for the experience in its entirety and toasting the unexpected pleasures of life. As long as I’m living in the Middle East, I plan to drop in at JALC Doha on a regular basis, especially since other friends have mentioned being booked there in the near future. And, certainly, if you are in the neighborhood, do yourself the favor stop by! ♥