7 Mile & Jazz Music
One month and 103 years ago, sportswriter E.T. "Scoop" Gleeson proclaimed, in the pages of the San Francisco Bulletin: “Everybody has come to the old town full of the old jazz, and they promise to knock the fans off their feet with their playing.”
This may be one of the earliest appearances of the word “jazz” in print,. But although he was using the word in reference to the pep manifested by our minor league baseball team, it almost sounds as if Scoop had taken a magical trip through time to write about the 7 Mile House, where he could now watch our championship major league team on TV between sets of the best-quality homemade jazz music in the Bay Area, made by musicians who knock fans of all ages off their feet,
three nights out of every week and even more this month.
Those who remember when jazz was economically viable and attractive to the media, in the decades after World War II, now look to the 7 Mile House for the precedent set at Fillmore District venues like Jimbo’s Bop City and Jack’s and the joints on the other side of town like the Jazz Workshop and Basin Street West, in the North Beach neighborhood associated with the Beatniks. “Jazz crossed clear across San Francisco, but you can hardly find it now,” laments journalist Rochelle Metcalfe. “I’m glad that 7 Mile is keeping that flavor alive.” “And we create the same kind of environment that was going on in those times,” adds trumpeter Al Molina.
Broadcaster and author Sonny Buxton has witnessed the showcasing of progressive jazz at clubs like the Both/And and the Keystone Korner, and the struggle of jazz with the cost of doing business over the past couple of decades. “The 7 Mile is a continuation of what we had at Pearl’s and then at Dogpatch,” says Sonny. “Management appreciates that the musicians are there, as are the people who come in to see them, and they bend over backwards to support them.”
“[Owner] Vanessa and [Entertainment Manager] Dennis are always asking, ‘Vince, what do you think about this?’,” reports drummer Vince Lateano, who led musical sessions at both Pearl’s and Dogpatch. “And that’s so rare.”
Dennis Cummings, himself an electric bass player, books a vital mix of pop music alongside the three days of jazz at 7 Mile, and “when I go with jazz, R&B and blues, attendance is up,” he reports.
“My goal is to bring everyone in, which is why, if you look around, it’s a very diverse clientele,” notes owner Vanessa Garcia. “We don’t charge a cover, but we do business like musicians, we’re very passionate about people enjoying the music. That feeds our soul, that’s our reward.”