The POSTunderground is located in the basement of the Brookline Veterans' Post, 386 Washington Street, Brookline, MA, 02445. The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars share the building, which is also known as the AL/VFW Post. American Legion Commander, Elmon Hendrickson, manages the day-to-day operations.
In the fall of 2018, Commander Hendrickson approached me with an idea. Feeling that the building was underutilized, he wanted to explore ways to make the basement space serve not only local veterans but the entire Brookline community. We came up with the basic framework for two events, one on Friday nights and one on Sunday afternoons.
From the outset, we agreed that both events would offer free admission and free food. If the goal is to bring the Brookline community together, trying to profit from it violates the whole spirit of this effort. Furthermore, on a philosophical level, music and food are both human rights. So we are audaciously attempting to fund the POSTunderground by other means.
Commander Hendrickson, who grew up listening to jazz, was very much open to using the Post's basement space as a venue for live music, one that would benefit the jazz community in Brookline and beyond. He left the particulars to me.
My thoughts turned immediately to a house band. The history of jazz is as much about locations as it is about musicians. Key developments are often centered in specific nightclubs, the foremost example being Minton's Playhouse in Harlem. The house band there included Thelonious Monk on piano and Kenny Clarke on drums, and their remarkable playing attracted the best jazz players in New York to Minton's after hours to sit in with them. The club became the site of the modern jazz revolution.
Although the comparison is grandiose, the idea is for the POSTunderground house band to attract excellent Boston jazz players to this specific Brookline location. Unlike in days of old, opportunities for jazz musicians to sit in with a great house band and play however they wish, without commercial or artistic constraints, are few and far between.
The key to success, of course, is putting together said great house band. Miraculously, two outstanding jazz musicians were already poised to join forces, both of whom have ties to the Brookline community. Phil Grenadier is a world-class trumpet player who happens to live down the street in Washington Square. Pianist Matt Marcus, a recent graduate of Bates College who studied at Brookline Music School, is already causing a stir wherever he goes. But you don't have to take my word for it. You can hear them every Friday, along with outstanding guest artists, free of charge.