Joe Gransden and quintet play in Stent Family Wing Atrium (Zimra Chickering/Senior Staff Writer)

If the vibes in the bathroom are any indication of the success of an event, I can assure you that the High Museum of Art’s Nov. 17 Friday Jazz was a hit. The bathroom adjacent to the main atrium was abuzz with conversation between strangers of all ages, complimenting each other’s outfits, offering up advice about which sinks worked and wishing each other a lovely night. This same energy was reflected in the crowd that evening, with old friends swing dancing in front of the jazz musicians, security guards laughing and talking with visitors and people offering up their seats to others who seemed tired or were wearing heels. You could see Gen Z Instagram girlies getting good artistic content, the young Atlanta music scene players there to network and senior couples whose love story you could picture as a great romance set in a smoky jazz bar 50 years ago.

On the third Friday of every month, the High Museum of Art hosts live jazz nights, with two musical areas set up throughout the building, accompanied by docent-led tours, light bites and drinks of all kinds. With music and liquor flowing, the crowd pours in, milling about the galleries as sound lilts up the floors of the museum. These nights are often popular, but as it gets colder outside, or rainy and gray like the evening of Nov. 17, the appeal of these events begins to grow. The packed crowd seemed excited for this November Friday Jazz to kick off the shift toward more popular indoor events.

The musicians for the night were set up in the grand atrium of the Stent Family Wing and on the main floor of the Anne Cox Chambers Wing. The former is a quintet of jazz musicians headed by Joe Gransden, a talented vocalist and jazz trumpet player from New York who currently has 12 recorded albums to his name. His kind and encouraging demeanor meant he mingled and talked with the crowd between sets, took pictures with fans and even danced with a few. An upright bass player, a keyboard player, a saxophonist and a drummer accompanied Gransden, all of whom he said he had chosen to play with that night because of their skill and creative collaboration.

The sound that echoes up from the main atrium in the Anne Cox Chambers Wing manages to carry and reverberate all the way up to the third floor of the museum. Even if these musical artists did not fill the vast atrium space much physically, they captured every corner of the building with auditory engagement. During their first set of the night, the dynamic vocals of Gransden warmly singing “Fly Me To The Moon” (1962), the iconic Frank Sinatra tune, lured me out of the second floor Impressionist galleries. I felt a pull to the edge of the balcony railing, peering over in a trance as the quintet gave me an entirely new experience with that Sinatra classic.

I was not able to catch the name of the musician in the Anne Cox Chambers Wing, with no signage or messaging on the website. All I do know is that he sat up on the stage with an electric keyboard and his voice powerhouse, belting out R&B bops that got the crowd in that wing singing along and getting down. This room felt a lot more like a modern party than your classic jazz sit-down experience, but that was key to creating a balanced and multifaceted experience for visitors spending four hours of their evening in the museum. You could pick and choose or float between the energies of these different musical spaces.

Considering the fact that I ran into two other Emory University students, both of whom appeared to be on a date, this event is made to foster such an intimate environment is key. Enough planned activities give everybody something to talk about during the evening — the talent of the main jazz musicians or the artwork in the galleries — in case an awkward pause occurs in your conversation. Importantly, enough freedom also helps to make the night your own, allowing you two to wander the museum where you see fit. Do you dance with somebody? Talk to the musicians as they mingle with the crowd between sets? Visit the new rotating exhibits?

Friday Jazz is made for people looking to bond and experience art, and, in the same vein as High Frequency Friday, the museum continues to strike the correct, appealing tone with its late night events. I would imagine these will continue to be a fixture for Atlanta jazz fans and a platform for talented musical artists for years to come.

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Zimra Chickering (24C) is a born and raised Chicagoan who studies art history and nutrition science. She is also a student docent for the Michael C. Carlos Museum, Woodruff JEDI Fellow, educational committee chair for Slow Food Emory, and Xocolatl: Small Batch Chocolate employee. Zimra loves cooking, visiting art museums, photography, doing Muay Thai, drinking coffee, and grocery shopping. She uses writing as an outlet to reflect upon issues and oppurtunities within artistic institutions, and the unique ways in which food and art can act as communicators of culture.