By Leo Byrne, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Jazz aficionados across Rio were no doubt happy to learn that the famous ‘Jazz at the Maze’ nights began again last week after being on hiatus since December. An intriguing blend of exhibition venue, bar and guesthouse, the Maze and its monthly jazz nights have been building a reputation as one of Rio’s more interesting night spots since 2006.
Recently named as one of the ‘best jazz clubs in the world’ by Downbeat Magazine, the unusual venue reflects the colorful nature of its owner, Bob Nadkarni.
“The events started as just a party for me and my friends, I think about twelve people turned up at the first one. I played in the band, but I also bought all the booze. So after the fourth one I thought I should start asking people to chip in, and it just snowballed from there,” Nadkarni told The Rio Times.
From there the venue has grown into a labyrinthine complex of narrow corridors, winding staircases, bars and open air verandas.
Indeed the Jazz at the Maze event on the first Friday of every month is so well attended that prices have gone up merely as an attempt to keep the crowds at bay, a tactic that so far seems to have been unsuccessful, while outside a smaller Brazilian style bar has opened that caters for the overspill.
Adding to the venue’s unusual character is its setting. Perched on top of Tavares Bastos favela and accessible only via a rabbit run of narrow, winding alleyways, the Maze seems like it is a world away from the Zona Sul’s (South Zone) well trodden bars and clubs. Yet in this case the ‘edgy’ location seems only to have added to the Maze’s popularity.
“I came here 31 years ago and I built this place brick by brick,” said Nadnarki. The most recent renovations however, were more safety orientated than aesthetic. “Now we get so many people that I opened up all the front and added emergency exits, both upstairs and down,” he added.
Throughout the changes and augmentations however, the Maze has stayed true to its roots. Starting at 9PM, jazz lovers can enjoy the band led by Brazilian Joel Ferreira. The band plays four sets all the way through until the early hours of the morning.
“I used to play at these events, but these guys are too good for me!” Nadnarki told The Rio Times.
During one of the intermissions, party goers can head to one of the bar’s many hidden seating areas, or go upstairs to soak up some captivating views over the Guanabara Bay and Sugar Loaf Mountain.
The Jazz at the Maze’s popularity has also paved the way for other events at the idiosyncratic venue. The second Friday of each month now hosts ‘Festa Labirinto’ more tailored towards rock music lovers, while the following Friday sees the return of another jazz night.
Entitled ‘Maze Take Two’, the music is handled by The Maze All Stars and led by British jazz musician Tom Ashe. The band takes its cues from Bob Nadnarki’s old jazz band in England.
The easiest way to get to Maze is to take the metro to Catete station, from there it is a short walk to the bottom of the Tavares Bastos hill, where there are vans or motorbike taxis running to the top of the favela. It is not advisable to drive to the venue as parking can be an issue.
What: Jazz at the Maze
When: First Friday of every month
Where: Rua Taveres Bastos, 414 casa 6