The atmosphere inside The Nash during its grand opening concert on a warm night back in early October was positively electric. A fast-paced flurry of a finger-snapping bebop filled the air as a quintet of jazz musicians led by legendary drummer Lewis Nash, the namesake of the new downtown Phoenix music venue, laid down their rhythms at a breakneck pace.
As members of the audience let loose with catcalls and hollered their approval, Nash relentlessly thumped the skins during a frenetic drumming solo before joining with rest of the performers -- including bassist Christian McBribe, pianist Cedar Walton, and guitarist Russell Malone -- and building the crescendo into an explosion of jazz that marked the climax of their set. Then, there was nothing but applause.
It was a thrilling ending that served as the official beginning of The Nash, a combination concert hall and music education center run by Jazz in Arizona. Its arrival was one of the higher profile venue debuts that took place in the Valley during 2012, a year that saw the opening of several other unique joints around town, as well as the departure of several iconic and long-running establishments.