Smalls Jazz Club was created in 1994 by the enigmatic Mitchell Borden. Borden, a former Navy submariner, registered nurse, philosopher & jazz violinist, founded the club with an initiative to create an environment that was conducive to Jazz Music and its culture. Borden, who booked and managed the club, approached business from a stance of generosity rather than profit.
A Club Is Born
The original Smalls was a raw basement space and had no liquor license. For just $10, patrons could bring their own beer and come to the club at any time, day or night. They could stay as long as they liked and often left just as day began to break. Borden's concern was only with the music and the musicians who created it. Under his generous care, a culture of vibrant and newly energized young musicians claimed Smalls as their home base and began to develop their individuality in the music. This included such musicians as:
Howard Alden, J.D. Allen, William Ash, Ehud Asherie, Omer Avital, David Berkman, Peter Bernstein, Brian Blade, Seamus Blake, Dwayne Burno, Chris Byars, Shard Cassity, Dwayne Clemons, Jay Collins, Marion Cowings, Jon Davis, Sasha Dobson, Duane Eubanks, Brian Floody, Joel Frahm, Ray Gallon, Paul Gill, Larry Goldings, Ned Goold, Jimmy Greene, Larry Ham, Tardo Hammer, Roy Hargrove, Ari Hoenig, Sherman Irby, Norah Jones, Ryan Kisor, Guillermo Klein, Myrna Lake, Carolyn Leonhart, Jason Linder, Joe Magnarelli, Jeremy Manasia, Joe Martin, Donny McCauslin, Brad Mehldau, Neal Miner, Tyler Mitchell, Jane Monheit, Mike Mullen, Zaid Nasser, Charles Owens, Jeremy Pelt, Sasha Perry, Jean Michel Pilc, Chris Potter, Josh Redman, Jon Roche, Ari Roland, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Grant Stewart, Phil Stewart, Joe Strasser, Greg Tardy Mark Turner, Diego Urcola, Richie Vitale, Myron Walden, Scott Wendholt, Spike Wilner, Ben Wolfe, Sam Yahel, Peter Zak and many others.