Monthly Wine & Jazz series begins at The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco
If you go
What: Wine & Jazz, presented by The Barkley Ballroom, Frisco Wine Merchant and Veraison Beverage Distributors
When: Thursdays, Jan. 22, Feb. 19, March 19 and April 16; 6-7:30 p.m. wine tasting of six varietals from around the world, 7:30-9:30 p.m. music with tabled seating
Where: The Barkley Ballroom, 610 Main St., Frisco
More information: Visit www.barkleyballroom.com for more information or to buy tickets; a limited number of jazz-only tickets may be available, call (970) 708-7042
The Barkley Ballroom will begin a monthly Wine & Jazz tasting and concert series on Thursday, Jan. 22, in Frisco. Each event will include a sampling of six varietals of wine, along with live music.
Todd Altschuler, co-owner of The Barkley, said he and his partner, Keegan Casey, had been talking about the idea of wine and jazz since they opened the doors of the venue two years ago and finally found a great partner in Suzanne Johnston, owner of Frisco Wine Merchant, with whom to launch it.
“I feel like discriminating tastes enjoy both,” Altschuler said of pairing wine with jazz. “They just seem to go together. I don’t know what it is about them, but if you’re going to be sitting around and drinking wine, you don’t want rock ’n’ roll; you want something a little bit more relaxing.”
The Ensemble Jazz Band, a project of local musicians Tyler Easton, Stephen Glaeser, Aaron Jenks and Billy Merill, will provide the music for the first event.
“It’s a little bit of a combination,” Easton said of the style the band will play. “More contemporary jazz, funkier jazz, real book-style standards but with more up-tempo style to get people moving and dancing around when we can — bossa nova, blues, standard swing, Latin, funk-shuffle, that kind of thing.”
The first set will include originals written by Jenks, and the second will have more of a dance beat, Easton said, to get people up and on their feet once they’ve had a few glasses of wine. Jenks said he’s looking forward to the combination of wine and jazz.
“I’m very much into wine,” he said. “I worked at a winery in Arkansas for a while, did the whole pressing process. It’ll be nice to have a setting where we’ll be able to use our improv skills and take people on a little bit of an odyssey outside of the normal standards that we will be playing.”
Easton graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and his fellow bandmates also studied jazz in depth. The musicians are looking forward to offering an opportunity to experience a nice, low-key evening as an alternative to a rowdy night out at the bars, he said.
“It’s a background we all have a lot of fun in but don’t get a lot of commercial outlets for here,” he said of jazz. “Reggae, pop, rock — you don’t hear a lot of jazz fusion, and it’s nice of Keegan to give us that opportunity.”
Timo Rohr, of Denver, will be standing in for Johnston as the representative for Frisco Wine Merchant at the first event on Thursday, Jan. 22. Guests will each receive a punch card with which to track and rate their wines, one punch for each of the six wines tasted.
“We will have descriptions there of each of the wines, three reds and three whites,” he said. “Some really dynamic wines, some up-and-coming producers and some classic producers and just a nice selection; some high end, some middle of the road and some on the less expensive side, but delicious nonetheless.
“It’s really exciting to have jazz and wine together there in Frisco instead of having to go to Telluride or Aspen or Steamboat for it.”
Wines being poured include chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, and red and white blends, Rohr said, varietals Johnston chose that would be familiar but done in different styles to make them distinctive.
“We like turning people on to new things, getting them out of their box a little bit,” Rohr said. “It’s kind of a mix. I think people new to wine will appreciate the flavors. Suzanne specializes in grower wines and grower champagnes, not the mass-produced, overly manipulated wines. So for that reason, we’ll also appeal to oenophiles who know what they are tasting. The character of the grapes is what Suzanne is after, which is what sets her apart from what other people are doing.”
Discounts will be offered to those who order or reserve wine at the event, so attendees can try them all and then purchase their favorites, Rohr said.
“It should be a fun time, for sure, it should be a great evening to get some people out and turn them on to some new wines for themselves,” he said.
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