336 N. Charles, (443) 501-4000, homeslyce.com
The Mount Vernon pizzeria is not the obvious choice for jazz. There is no bandstand, much less a stage, and often the oversized TVs are broadcasting sporting events. But on Wednesday night, thanks to former “Best Do-Gooder” Todd Marcus, the bar has become an oasis for jazz-heads of all stripes. That’s because Marcus’ vision is, like jazz itself, both constant and ever-evolving. We’ve long thought this town needed more musical residencies and Marcus’ mid-week mixer shows exactly why: instead of an audience, they are building a community, carrying on a long improvised conversation that can last for weeks or months. It works sort of like an open-mic, with Marcus as bandleader, bringing anyone with the chops—or at least some chops—to the mix. Not everyone is as good as Marcus, a superb bass clarinetist, but we’ve never seen anyone fall flat. There have been kids up there jamming with their heroes, and monsters who could easily hold down a set alone, enjoying a friendly session. Getting a pizza and a glass of wine and sitting at the bar can make for a perfect Wednesday evening—it’s loud enough that you can hear everything you want, but not so loud you can’t talk to your date. And it’s good for the bar because, since anything might happen, you’re inclined to stick around for one more drink—you don’t want to miss any of the magic being made.