Founded at the heart of Harlem in 1969, Paris Blues is a humming dive bar where jazz lovers convene 7 nights a week to play, listen, dance eat and drink in the music.

Antoine Dowdell Group is one such group of performers and they play with abandon and a carefree ease. It’s cold outside on the New York City street, but inside the doors of Paris Blues things heat up as the piano-led quintet play with everything they’ve got.

With Kenji Tokunaga (bass), Yoshiki Miura (guitar) and Dameyum Henry (drums) completing the rhythm section, Ryoju Fukushiro blasts through on tenor sax, taking each solo with confidence and a fresh sense of exploration each time. There is a warmth of character pulsing through the band as Dameyum and Antoine share a couple of musical jokes including some unexpectedly classical musical interludes. A whole lot of fun is in the air of the bar, just as Samuel Hargress, Jr. (the owner and founder) likes it.

The stage area is only just wide enough to accommodate the musicians; the bar is only just big enough to hold everyone who wants in on the action. A homemade banner made from a sheet hangs at the back of the room, the words ‘Paris Blues’ sparkling off it in blue paint. So much love has been poured into this venue and it shows in every moment of the evening.

Stay ’til midnight in Paris Blues (and beyond).

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