The Baylor Project (Jazz Standard 01.10.18)

The Jazz Standard isn’t the usual hole in the wall.  There are a few jazz clubs in the city that have become tourist attractions of various sorts.  The Standard is one but it’s different in that it sits below a well-known New York restaurant and shares its kitchen, ownership, and staff.  At the top of the stairs is a built-in tourist magnet replete with smoked brisket and wings.  It’s not unusual for people to wander down the stairs unsure of what they’ll find there.

On a Wednesday night in January, one such couple walked down the stairs and stepped up to the maitre d’ with confused looks on their faces.  As the woman looked from the maitre d’ to the host beside her to the server standing beside the door, the man leaned in toward the maitre d’:

“Who’s playing tonight?”

“The Baylor Project,”  she replied.

“Oh.  Are they good?”

Before she could respond, a short stocky man with a neatly manicured goatee and stylish vest sidled up behind the couple in line and interjected.

“Terrible.  They’re just terrible.”

The couple stopped and their brows furrowed.  They turned around and looked at him as the maitre d’ began laughing.

“No, they’re wonderful.  They’ve been nominated for two Grammy awards this year.”

“Don’t listen to her they’re just terrible.”

The couple stared at the man as he laughed from under his fedora.

“Totally over-rated.”

“Don’t mind him.  I promise you’ll love it.”  The maitre d’ smiled and motioned to her left.  “We’ll find you guys a great seat.”

The couple walked through the double doors and into the club and the man followed laughing before breaking away toward the bar to greet another man who stood holding a drink with a saxophone case over his shoulder.

The server leaned in from the doorway, looked at the maitre d’, and whispered.

“Who the hell was that guy?”

She rolled her eyes a little and laughed.

“Marcus Baylor.”