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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

St. Regis Doha ends partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center


For illustrative purposes only
For illustrative purposes only

With reporting from Malak Mounir

After four years, the jazz club at the St. Regis Doha and New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) are going their separate ways, the hotel has confirmed.

In a statement to Doha News, the St. Regis said that it had “initiated the change” because it wanted to offer “a greater variety of music offerings at the venue and to cater to a more diverse crowd in Doha.”

When asked if financial considerations played a role, the hotel said that it was “really about wanting more flexibility.”

Jazz at Lincoln Center has not yet responded to a request for comment.

World-class music

JALCD opened to much fanfare in 2012.

It was the first international outpost for the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) in New York, the brainchild of jazz superstar Wynton Marsalis.

During its launch, the club was trumpeted by both the hotel and JALC as a way of bringing world-class jazz music to Qatar.

Paul James, the global brand leader for St. Regis Hotels, told the New York Times in 2011 that the deal, in which the hotel flew in JALC artists, gave the club a unique edge over its competition:

“You can make a jazz club, but you can’t make a Jazz at Lincoln Center jazz club,” Mr. James said. “That sense of quality and professionalism and the talent of that musician pool is untouchable.”

However, the St. Regis Doha management has decided to take the venue in a different direction.

The hotel’s website now advertises The Club at the St. Regis, instead of “Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha.”

In its statement to Doha News, the St. Regis said it hoped to “cater to a multitude of music genres, providing a little bit of something for everyone.”

The St. Regis added that it had enjoyed “a very successful partnership (with JALC) over the years” and that the two parties had “mutually collaborated” over the closure of JALCD.

Entry restrictions

Since it opened, the club has proved to be a popular for venue with Qatar residents and tourists.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha
Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha

Its mix of music and alcohol made it a big draw for the expat community, but the venue has previously sparked controversy for not allowing entry to locals in national dress (as per the law) because it served alcohol.

In 2014, Nayla Al Thani, a Qatari student at Northwestern University in Qatar, told Doha News that she was annoyed that she couldn’t visit the venue to celebrate her friend’s birthday:

“It was very upsetting to be honest. I was mad at the concept that I can’t eat at a restaurant in my own country.”

To expand its reach to the wider community, JALCD branched out with free monthly concerts at the Museum of Islamic Art park, as well as family-friendly daytime events in the club.

However, a spokesperson for the St. Regis Doha said that these events are not expected to continue when the club re-launches.

Summer festival

Now operating under a new name and no longer exclusively showcasing JALC artists, The Club at the St. Regis is currently advertising what it calls an “unforgettable summer music festival.”

Deborah Bond
Deborah Bond

The club’s confirmed summer line-up features a band made up of five international artists, fronted by American singer Debórah Bond.

No entry fee is being charged for the shows, which operate Wednesday to Saturday. The event runs until the end of September, when the club will be re-launched.

The St. Regis said that the venue is still working with an agency to finalize the new branding for the club.

While its former Twitter account has been deleted, JALCD’s Facebook page continues to operate.

Expansion plans

When the deal between the St. Regis Doha and JALC was signed, the New York jazz club said that the venue in Qatar would be the first of five planned around the world.

 For illustrative purposes only
For illustrative purposes only

So far, however, JALCD remains the only one to have opened.

But JALC Shanghai is reportedly scheduled to open this year in a new complex called The Central, opposite the city’s Holy Trinity church.

Did you visit JALCD? How do you feel about the change? Thoughts?

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