Tuesday is the night for jazz fans at Blue Martini

WDNA’s Howard Duperly presents Steve Kirkland (left) for live broadcast.

The Blue Martini has put Kendall on the map for jazz fans on Tuesday nights. “For adults and young professionals, it’s the place for high-end, night club styled entertainment featuring live jazz,” said Steve Kirkland, operator of the Miami-Dade College Jazz Institute’s summer camp for young jazz musicians.

Kirkland has sent many students on their way to jazz careers, including Marcus and E. J. Strickland, as well as the Libidio Band with Danny and Christina Morris, former Kirkland students at Hammocks Middle School where he has been band director for 25 years.

When not involved teaching music, he leads the “Mr. K Band” now drawing packed crowds Tuesday nights to Kendall’s Blue Martini to hear live jazz, the kind of performances usually associated with South Beach or Coconut Grove night spots.

Opening doors only a year ago in the “The Palms,” the Blue Martini brought an upscale nightclub setting to The Palms amidst fashionable retail stores and restaurants that replaced an outdated mall at Town & Country Center on Mills Drive.

During the fall, increasing numbers of jazz fans from WDNA/88.9 FM, Miami’s popular jazz-oriented station, turned out to hear Steve Kirkland’s live jazz shows on Tuesday nights at the Blue Martini. The combination proved so successful that the station began live hour-long remote broadcasts from 7 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 29, featuring the “Mr. K Band” and vocalists.

“Since we began hourly spots, we’ve seen crowds double at Blue Martini,” said Howard Duperly, sales and marketing manager for WDNA.

Duperly, a former Kendall resident, agrees the Blue Martini is “setting a high entertainment standard in this area.

“Tuesday nights are normally considered a downer for nightclub business. Now, hundreds of fans regularly show up for our broadcasts.

“I know,” he laughed. “We only give out 100 blanks each night to win a T-shirt or free concert tickets and they’re all gone in minutes.”

“We’ve done occasional live broadcasts at events like the Miami Book Fair, but this has turned out to be the perfect place for a weekly remote, expanding our audience for jazz.”

Longtime station jazz programming hosts like Michael Valentine and Frank Consola share emcee duties with Duperly.

Vocal stylist Rachel Perry, who has been featured with stars like Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz and Jon Secada, traveled from Davie on Dec. 27 as guest artist, opening with her set with Duke Ellington’s Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.

“It’s really a great place to perform and hear jazz,” said the recording artist who began her career with Emilio Estefan Productions and has both co-written songs and appeared on several Grammy-award winning albums.

The Mr. K Band includes Steve on tenor sax; Nomar Negroni, drummer; Robert Gonzalez, keyboards; Hal Roland, keyboards and vocals; Chegui Calderon, bass; Cayo Iturraide, bass, and Rhea Olivia, regular vocalist.

Kirkland said his interest revolves around “a love of the music” rather than as a sideline to make extra dollars.

“People really enjoy the energy and passion we put into our performances,” he added after a near-standing room crowd cheered the band’s latest Blue Martini performance.

“I play for people, and I try to pull them into our performance. I love to see people happy.”

For information on the Mr. K Band, visit www.misterkband.com or call 305-807-9142; the Blue Martini telephone is 305-630-2583 or visit BlueMartiniLounge.com.


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1 Comment on "Tuesday is the night for jazz fans at Blue Martini"

  1. PART 2:

    THE BAD:

    I make a few friends over there and have lot of fun until a year ago, on July 29th 2014 to be exact it was supposed to be a very especial night, Dr. Ed Calle was performing for the first time and I put together my biggest group of friends, 14 total people arrived around 7-7:15 that night, my regular high table for 4 was eventually too small, and tables are fixed, so we cannot moved other tables to be close to each other. The waitress that night was a new one, I never saw her prior, she was very stressed for the numerous people, I asked her if we could move to the “reserved area” which had two large tables which will be a good fit for everybody, she told me to wait until she ask the “manager on duty”, a few minutes later she gave me the green light to move there, we thought everything was ready for the greatest night of all, ohh boy I couldn’t be more wrong…
    It took over 15 minutes for the first bottle of Duckhorn to arrive and few of my friend’s drinks were forgotten, right about Dr. Ed Calle was ready to start a young lady approached us saying that we couldn’t be in that area, that we had to moved out… can you imagine, moving out at that time without a single table available!? I explain to the young lady that we were allowed to move there by a “manager approval” and she replay that “SHE WAS THE MANAGER!”

    Go figured, she was not told about our move request, and she was NOT helpful at all, she acted like we were “the enemy”, I could see her enjoyment imposing “her power”, so I told her that she was a bad manager… I believe a manager is supposed to do everything in his/her power to make people happy, to make clients feel respected, and important! But she did all of the opposite.

    At this point I had no other choice but ask for the check, I was forced to wait for the bill out of the “reserved area”, standing for over 30 minutes and the check never arrived, so I told my friends to leave and I handed a $100 bill to the front door lady with my business card in case there was a balance pending (which I was sure it was not). The front lady gave us another hard time saying that we could not leave the promises until we officially pay the bill. I told her to call the cops because I was leaving anyway…

    THE UGLY:

    A few weeks later I call corporate to report the incident, I was taken a few basic information and was told someone will be calling me… (A year later I still waiting such phone call). Then I was contacted by Steve Kirkland since he’s always aware when a regular client was missing for a week or two, so I told him most of the incident, he was very sorry to hear it, here is a quote from his responses:

    Email 1 (Copy to Heberto Sanchez): “Berto, is there anything we can do for this customer? He and his friends came every week and were insulted when a waitress gave away their table. It was a big misunderstanding. I think a few rounds on the house would bring them back in and would be worth it for all of us. We don’t want to lose good customers like Mr. Teran. Steve (Mr k)”

    Email 2: “Hey Gabriel, I’m so sorry for what happened. I’d be glad to buy you and your girl a drink on my tab when you return. The management has not responded to my requests; I’ll try again. I miss having you as a regular.”

    I must think for all of the above that the “young manager” maybe relative of the owner of Blue Martini, because it’s crazy that respectful and professional clients, regulars every single Tuesday, paying always in cash, with taps around $200 every single visit, always giving large tips, and never having a single argument be ignore for weeks, months and a year to be soon.

    5 stars to the music, and location.
    – 5 stars to the managing personal.

    So I’m giving an additional star to my rating because it’s the lower I can go. At the end, they lost me, my friends, and my friend’s friends.

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