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New jazz club opening in West Baltimore hopes to help city reclaim its musical heritage

When Daniel Cherky and Errez Segman bought the building in the 1100 block of West Baltimore Street, the idea was to renovate it and sell it. When the economy took a nose a dive, however, Cherky says their plans changed and Back Alley Jazz was born.

"I figured that I would do something to help the neighborhood. We want to make [this part of] Baltimore live again and bring a little bit of the feel of New Orleans to the city," he explains.

Familiar with Baltimore's illustrious musical history, Cherky and Segman decided to do something to help restore the city's reputation as a major player in the world of jazz.

"I said let's create something like back in the '20s because Baltimore used to be a real swinging place," Cherky says.

Just a few blocks west of University of Maryland's Biopark, Cherky says the neighborhood needs some help. "I have done a lot of the work on the building myself and in the beginning I would put my tools down [and go do something in another part of the building]. Five minutes later, the tools would be gone and ten minutes after that someone would be there selling me back my own tools," he laughingly recalls.

So far, the pair have spent more than $400,000 rehabbing the building, painting the facade, adding a rooftop deck and creating three floors were jazz lovers will enjoy national, regional and local jazz artists as well as amateur acts.

With the backing of the the city, which changed the name of the alley next to the building to Back Alley Jazz, Cherky says the upscale club will take visitors back to the days when speakeasys were the place to be. The clubs entrance will be located at the back of the building that is adjacent to Hollins Street Market. Valets will park guests' cars while security guards will ensure that both remain safe.

The staff will be dressed in 1920's era-style clothing. In addition to a variety of cocktails, the club will offer a light menu of New Orleans-style cuisine that will also include an homage to its Maryland location with some local favorites.

Back Alley Jazz will open around the end of April or beginning of May. The hope, says Segman is that the club will attract guests from Virginia, DC and the Greater Baltimore area. According to Cherky, eventually, the club will host a variety of street festivals on its parking lot.

Sources: Daniel Cherky and Errez Segman, Back Alley Jazz
Writer: Walaika Haskins
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