Beloved jazz venue the Hungry Brain reopens (slowly) in Roscoe Village

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It's back (sort of) - LEOR GALIL
  • Leor Galil
  • It's back (sort of)

"We're really happy to not be here tonight," said Sun Speak guitarist Matt Gold during his duo's Thursday-evening set at the Hungry Brain. The beloved Roscoe Village venue and bar, a longtime hub for the local jazz community, had closed in December 2014. It's spent nearly a year dormant (and it's not formally open yet—hence Gold's joke), but a capacity crowd filled the room last night to help drummer Charles Rumback celebrate the release of his album In the New Year.

The new year also happens to be when the Hungry Brain should be properly up and running. Yesterday Crain's ran an interview with drummer, jazz-scene pillar, and Pitchfork Music Festival founding director Mike Reed where he revealed that he's one of the Hungry Brain's new owners. The venue is just blocks away from Constellation, the much larger multidisciplinary performance space Reed opened in 2013. As he told the crowd Rumback's release show, the Hungry Brain remains a spiritual home: "It's really where I figured out how to do anything—put on shows, meet people, play music."

Reed didn't share much with Crain's about his plans for the space, other than that it would be hosting a reading night and a music night. But during last night's show he said the place would formally open in early 2016. The Rumback show was more of a preview, which is why Reed's first words from the stage were, "We're not really open, so you're not really here." The record release provided Reed and company with the impetus to get the Hungry Brain in order. "It finally put a deadline on 'When are you going to actually do this,'" Reed said before Rumback's quintet set.

The intimate, low-lit space should feel familiar to folks who spent Sunday evenings at the Hungry Brain for Umbrella Music's Transmission Series—the walls are a bit brighter, but the spirit remains. My friend, Consequence of Sound managing editor Adam Kivel, put it well: "It's just different enough that I'm not angry about it." Reed told the crowd there'd be more events on their way in the coming Sundays, before Hungry Brain officially opens its doors. Or, as he eloquently put it, "We'll plan on not really being open Sunday."

Early in the evening, before the room filled up - LEOR GALIL
  • Leor Galil
  • Early in the evening, before the room filled up

The Charles Rumback Quintet from afar - LEOR GALIL
  • Leor Galil
  • The Charles Rumback Quintet from afar

The Charles Rumback Quintet up close - LEOR GALIL
  • Leor Galil
  • The Charles Rumback Quintet up close



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