On November 15, Unified Jazz Ensemble helped Jazz Beyond Borders celebrate the one-year anniversary of its suppertime world music and jazz concerts held monthly at Café Mezzanotte in Severna Park.
Currently, the only live music series offered in mid-Anne Arundel County, Jazz at the Mezz has featured leading performing and recording artists since culture vultures Paulina Phillips and Theresa Sise from Jazz Beyond Borders began partnering with restaurant owner Kosmas “Tommie” Koukoulis last year. Coming from a Navy family, Sise had deep ties to the area. Originally from Winnipeg, Canada, Phillips grew up on the Magothy River and is a former county arts director.
The restaurant’s Mediterranean cuisine and 100-seat room were a perfect match for their diverse musical offerings performed by artists from Spain, Canada, United Kingdom, Russia, Brazil and the United States. After enjoying many sold-out concerts in early 2020, the series took a three-month hiatus from April through June, resuming with summer outdoor concerts. Shows moved indoors in fall with social distancing, masks and seating at under 50% capacity for the health and safety of artists, staff and patrons.
The celebratory November 15 concert featured the region’s most popular and enduring jazz group, Unified Jazz Ensemble, known as UJE by fans throughout the region. The group toured for many years before making its auspicious debut appearance in the area at the Annapolis Jazz Festival (then headed by the late, legendary guitarist Charlie Byrd). UJE became known as the go-to band for solid, straight-ahead jazz with distinctive instrumentation.
Jazz at the Mezz has offered its last live performance for 2020, but music lovers can still enjoy virtual performances courtesy of Jazz Beyond Borders. Find upcoming performance dates by visiting www.jazzbeyondborders.com or by following Jazz Beyond Borders on Facebook.