The Last Trenton Jazz Club-The Candlelight Lounge

Notable for their music scenes, New York City and Philadelphia contain a plethora of venues for musicians and audiences alike to frequent.  Music venues devoted solely to that of jazz and blues are likewise apparent, allowing this music genre to flourish within these urban areas.

In Philadelphia alone jazz clubs are plentiful, including venues like the Clef Club of Jazz, Time, Chris’s Jazz Cafe and South Kitchen & Jazz Parlor among many others. With an equally as prevalent jazz scene, New York City hosts venues including Smalls Jazz Club, Birdland, Bill’s Place, Jazz at Kitano and 55 Bar.

Right between these two major music cities lays the city of Trenton which holds a rich history entwined with jazz and blues music.  Yet the prevalence of the jazz and blues scene within Trenton is hard to tell by the current clubs dedicated to this music genre that are currently open.  With one lone jazz club still running weekly live performances, the city of Trenton holds on to its embedded history of blues and jazz.

The Candlelight Lounge, found on 24 Passaic Street Trenton, is the final remaining spot dedicated for live jazz music in the city.  Performances occur on most Saturdays from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm, according to the Jazz Trenton website. With a minimum cover of $10 the Candlelight provides a night’s length of live jazz along with a complimentary buffet for the audience to enjoy.  This one-story building provides a stark decrease in cost for what the jazz venues found in Philadelphia and New York city would normally amount to.

Prior to the Candlelight Lounge being the last remaining jazz and blues venue, Trenton was the home to various music spots for musicians to perform.  Like that of the Capital Club, Carver Center and the Tuxedo Club, these are some of the venues that have emerged with the growing popularity of this music scene but have subsequently shut down over the years.

The map below displays the locations of these former venues-images in black and white signifying the spots that are no longer operating as music clubs.


The former Capital Club, located on 29 Barnes Street, was one of the earlier found venues that has hosted a musical performances in the late-19th century, according to the Trenton Makes Music website. (In Search of a Community’s Past, p.120)

Similarly the Carver Center, previously located on 40 Fowler Street, hosted musical performances from musicians like that of Cab Calloway and Fats Waller.  Meanwhile the Tuxedo Club originally located on 63 Bank Street hosted jazz performances until its closing in 1960, according to the Historic Sites of Trenton.

Throughout the rise and decline of the jazz and blues scene in the city of Trenton, the Candlelight Lounge has emerged as the last jazz club in the city, still consistently putting out weekly performances.  A list of the most recent scheduled performances for 2016 can be found on the Jazz Trenton website, including performances from musicians like Josh Lee, Carl Bartlett and Monnette Sudler to name a few.

With the Candlelight serving as the last jazz club in the area, this venue has been described as the home base for Trenton’s jazz scene in the article “Candlelight Lounge: A Bright Light for Trenton’s Jazz Scene” published by Mercerspace.

Current owner of the Candlelight Lounge, E.C. Bradley similarly sees the significance of this venue and intends to spread the clubs atmosphere and success to the surrounding area.  In an interview from The Trentonian Bradley talks about his role in putting together the Passaic Classic Block party with providing musical performances to the neighborhood.

“I’m hoping it is going to bring more business, and then we want the neighborhood to be enhanced,” Bradley said in the article.

Being the lone venue promoting live jazz and blues music, the Candlelight lounge is providing opportunities for local musicians and showcasing the positive musical history that is found within Trenton. The success of the Candlelight and the prevalence of the jazz and blues music scene in this troubled city is something that Trenton can be proud to provide.

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