A long staircase leads down to the literally underground 150-capacity club, Kurland tells Billboard, making it an ideal venue for underplays and late night private events, as well as artists’ residencies and weekend shows.
The Pedrito Martinez Group will christen Subrosa on Nov. 12, starting a week-long residency to be repeated in December and January. The New York-based Afro-Cuban percussionist and vocalist’s career has taken off recently, after a New Yorker writer profiled Martinez upon hearing him at the narrow Midtown Cuban restaurant where his band has been playing for years. In September, Martinez performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis and Chucho Valdes.
“People should be paying to see Pedrito Martinez,” says Kurland, noting that Subrosa will provide a stage for other Cuban artists who live in New York and beyond.
“Cuban music works all the time,” he says of that decision. “I don’t need to be ‘in the mood’ to hear it. It’s always perfect.”
That will be music to the ears of Cuban artists, who often struggle to find acceptance in existing U.S. Latin music venues that cater to commercial pop or tropical sounds. Subrosa could fill the need in New York for an intimate Latin music club, currently maintained mostly by the stalwart but sound-challenged S.O.B.'s and salsa clubs, with sporadic Latin dates at JALC, The Jazz Standard and the Blue Note itself.
“Our focus will be on eclectic, creative music,” says Jordy Freed, Blue Note’s director of marketing and publicity, who adds that the Blue Note team will be working with agents and managers to program discovery-worthy local artists and special shows by established names.
In addition to the Blue Note Jazz Club, Blue Note Entertainment Group owns and operates the Highline Ballroom and B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York and Washington, D.C.'s Howard Theatre.