by Jennifer Retter
If Cowtown doesn’t bring jazz rifts to mind, maybe you just haven’t peered down the right alley.
“When I saw the alley, the people selling it were like, ‘You probably don’t want to do this,’ ” owner Ricki Derek said. “I said, ‘No this is perfect. We want to go down the alley; we want to have the old school.’ ”
Derek talks about the Scat Jazz Lounge as if it’s his own child, a child nurtured under the neon glow of the club’s sign set deep into the backdrop of Fort Worth’s Sundance Square.
You won't find any televisions or beer signs there, just great music from local and national talent in a laid back environment.
Headlining acts start at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Sundays and 9 p.m. on Wed.-Sat. With the exception of special or ticketed events, the lounge accepts reservations until 9 p.m. by calling the club at 817.870.9100. The performance schedule can be found at scatjazzlounge.com. There is no cover charge on Sundays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
For jazz musician Derek, opening the Scat Jazz Lounge offered an opportunity to share his love of Sinatra-inspired jazz with the Fort Worth community.
“At its core, it’s just really good music,” Derek said. “I’ve played a lot of different music in my life, and this is the stuff that feels right.”
Derek himself got his big break after, sadly, Sinatra’s death in 1998. Fans flocked to Derek’s shows in memory of their lost Ol’ Blue Eyes, and Derek’s Dallas jazz career took off.
After capitalizing on Dallas fame, Derek set his sights to Fort Worth. The Sinatra songster opened the Scat Jazz Lounge in December 2007. Pushing lackadaisical country tunes and cowboys aside, the club found a place in the hearts of Fort Worth residents, young and old alike. The venue carved out its own tiny nook in the 4th Street stretch, nestled into the framework of the F.W. Woolworth Building. If you walk by and don’t keep an eye out for the neon sign, you might miss it.
Derek and his band, the Vegas Six, perform at the Scat Jazz Lounge regularly. Derek also performs with a 16-piece band, but you’ll most likely see the Vegas Six in a smaller location like the Scat.
“For the type of music I do, it’s the perfect amount of people to convey that swingin’ vibe,” Derek said.
Expect to find Ricki Derek playing at his stomping grounds all summer. Derek said he updates his site, rickiderek.com, with performance dates regularly. Consider this an open invitation to hang out in a back alley.