Iconic music venue closes doors

After 38 years, local venues need to be protected

Spore and More (Justine Spore)
Spore and More
(Justine Spore)

Since 1977, Milwaukee jazz enthusiasts have flocked to The Jazz Estate, a small, disheveled building at 2423 N. Murray Ave. Although the outside of the building looks like nothing more than a garage-band hangout, a step inside is a step into an outstanding Milwaukee tradition. Although the establishment has gone through several owners throughout the years, it has remained true to its original purpose, as a live music venue and bar.

As a participant in the UW-Milwaukee Youth Jazz ensemble, I was able to experience The Jazz Estate first hand, performing Thursday nights with other high school students under the direction of Curt Hanrahan, a local jazz musician and the founder of the Lakeshore Conservatory of Music. The first time my parents dropped me off at the dilapidated building three years ago, I walked through the front door and immediately wondered how we would fit an entire band in the space. The ‘stage’ is merely a riser, and the structure of the building is entirely wrong for the acoustics of a band.

Nonetheless, we tuned, checked microphones, and performed. Since that first night, I have come to adore our gigs at The Jazz Estate. Not only is it an opportunity to play our music somewhere besides a small campus hall, it provides the Youth Ensemble with a more realistic experience of the professional jazz life, performing for true strangers in a not-so-perfect environment.

Unfortunately, only two years short of its 40th anniversary, The Jazz Estate is to be shut down. It is not apparent whether the closing is caused by one large problem or several smaller ones, however, its loss will be felt by Milwaukeeans, myself especially.

(Jeff Zimpel)
(Jeff Zimpel)

To prevent local venues like The Jazz Estate from disappearing, music enthusiasts should be aware of such businesses and support them religiously. The advancement of music-sharing technology has hastened the decline of local venues by allowing listeners to stream live concerts from around the world, devaluing small gigs.

The Jazz Estate provided me with a rare live-performance experience, as well as the opportunity to hear renowned musicians live, in a place not far from home. The cramped space, terrible acoustics, and shack-like appearance were well worth putting up with for the music.

Although tastes changed and musical fads came and went since its opening 38 years ago, The Jazz Estate remained a favorite spot among locals, and a unique music venue in the city of Milwaukee, one that I will miss dearly.

by Spore and More (Justine Spore)

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