Brooklyn swings

Brownstone Jazz

During the day, the Sankofa Aban bed and breakfast is barely distinguishable from the other 19th-century townhouses on the street. This is a typical brownstone characteristic of the BedStuy borough and gorgeously restored. But when dusk falls, something starts swinging at 107 Macon Street.

Debbie McClain orchestrates the whole event. The brownstone was her grandfather’s. She converted it into a bed and breakfast and has been organizing live jazz concerts every Friday and Saturday night in the parlor. With only thirty seats, the least you can say is that the setting is intimate. Piano, bass, drums and a vocalist humming the classic repertoire of American jazz crooners. Time seems to have stopped and you’re under the sweet impression you’re attending a private concert in New Orleans. The piano is slightly out of tune, but it only adds to the charm and authenticity of the moment.

Around 10:30pm, Debbie organizes a gourmet intermission. She prepares her traditional cornbread and fish fry. It’s more a snack than a proper dinner. It’s above all an excuse to meet and mingle with musicians and other guests. We spoke with the velvet-voiced singer that night, Lezlie Harrison. We met with an artist from Minnesota visiting New York for his exhibition in a gallery in Brooklyn. We listened to Debbie’s incredible stories. Brilliant and extravagant, Debbie has a colorful personality. Teeth of happiness is one of her distinguishing features and it suits her well. She tells us once a host drove all the way from Alaska to attend one of her concerts. We cannot confirm the veracity of the anecdote, but one thing is for sure: the timeless and very unique atmosphere at Sankofa Aban is worth the trip.


Brownstone jazz
Sankofa Aban Bed & Breakfast
107 Macon St, Brooklyn
Jazz sessions every Friday & Saturday night at 9pm
$40 tickets on Ticketweb

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