Music News

A First Look at Nocturne, the Jazz Club Opening in RiNo Later This Year

The building at 1330 27th Street has been a number of different thing over the last eight decades or so: it was a manufacturing space for dozens of years, a warehouse, an artist loft, a rave spot. A drummer lived there for awhile and it's the former home of NoDo Urban Garden Supply. But in the next few months, the space will be transformed into Nocturne, a modern take on the 1940s jazz supper club.

If everything goes as planned, owners Scott Mattson and his wife Nicole hope to break ground on the venue in a few weeks and have soft opening events in November and a grand opening in December. Mattson, who graduated from Metro State in 2002 with a degree in music and spent about six years as a working jazz drummer for about six years, says that Nocturne will be a reboot of the jazz club.

The club's interior of the 100-seat club, which will also have a mezzanine level, will be inspired by 1920s and '30s Atlantic Coast art deco of cities like New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia along with more industrial components like mirrors, cement, brick and metal.

"It's not your sort of refurbished hipster hardwood den," Scott Mattson says. "It's this really forward thinking atmosphere."

Scott Mattson says Nocturne won't be as much of a listening room as New York's Village Vanguard, where patrons are asked not to talk during performances. Mattson points out that jazz was the music of brothels and bars for its first thirty years.

"And it really flourishes in a club environment," he adds. "It really does. I want a place that's vibrant and fun and bottles of champagne and mixing good cocktails, and a place where folks can talk and have fun and a band came up and blow their ass off and have fun too."

Mattson says that part of their drive for opening Nocturne (which was partially crowd-funded and to their knowledge we are the first ever crowd-funded jazz venue), that jazz, to an extent, as it's known, is kind of going away.

"It's shrouded in elitism and mystery," he adds. "It seems like the older generation of fans are okay with that, and we aren't. We love the music and basically want to reboot it for our generation." In doing that, Mattson says they're going to have an artist in resident program where they'll have four three-month seasons and hire a band to play one night a week for those three months. But instead of bands just coming in and running through standards, artists might come in focus, for example, on the music of John Coltrane on Mondays for three months or maybe a guitarist play the music of Jim Hall on Tuesdays.

"Basically cats who are focusing on an iconic musician of jazz or who are playing honest-to-god original music in the mainstream genre of jazz or hard-bop post-pop or early bop or Afro Cuban or a little sub-genre," he says. "If a guy wants to come in do Machito and Chano Pozo and do the birth of Afro-Cuban jazz, like study that for three months, we'll want to do that. So it's basically a very engaging environment where the guys have a reason of being here and the audiences can kind of get to know what's going on."

Mattson says they'll be bringing late night jazz back to Denver and says the venue will have live jazz six nights a week, from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. In addition to that, during the Social Hour, from 6 to 8 p.m., DJs will spin classic vinyl.

Since jazz is the main focus of Nocturne, it will also influence the venue's food as well. When the Mattsons originally consulted with chef Dustin Beckner, the food program was initially going not going to be a major component, but as they got into more and more, they came to the conclusion that they can actually meld the arts of music and food.

They started to play around with tasting menus, like building one that matches the aesthetic of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue with simplicity and space. Part of the chef's tasting menus will be inspired by an iconic jazz album every month. Mattson says they'll be working their way through an entire canon of jazz albums, like Sonny Rollins' Way Out West.

Here's an early look at Nocturne:

• BACKBEAT'S GREATEST HITS • - The fifty best rap lyrics of all time - The ten biggest concert buzzkills - Five more concert buzzkills - From Phish to Floyd, the ten best light shows

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon