Two brothers, one, a jazz fanatic and the other, an avid vegetarian, decided to join forces and invest their time and money in what it is they know best. The result is La Calle del Delfin Verde, a jazz club and restaurant featuring vegetarian food in addition to white meats and fish.
La Calle del Delfin Verde in Santiago de Chile opened its doors many years ago but as yet, has no clear defining lines. It is a place still forging a niche for itself in the busy section of Calle Suecia. Ricardo, one of the brothers, jokingly described the Delfin Verde as a “joint with serious personality problems”. After spending some time there you will understand what he meant.
If there is one theme coursing through the club, however, it is jazz. It looks, tastes, and sounds of jazz. It is everywhere, from the life-size black and white mural of a jam session at the entrance, to the colorful manner in which the menu is laid out. They offer a medley of dishes ranging from international plates to sandwiches cleverly categorized under musical themes. We chose the Mexican Jam Session (delicious taquitos) and a saxophone sandwich from the Instrumentos Musicales section, all washed down with a Tito Puente (margarita). The food is tasty and certainly abundant but unquestionably, the main attractions are the musicians and their music.
Delfin Verde, according to the owners, is becoming a place where local musicians go to hang out and are often incorporated into the “nocturnal jam”. We were witnesses to this last Friday, when the Angel Parra Trio, a jazz spin-off of Los Tres (a well-known Chilean rock group), casually took over the stage and played some exceptional tunes. The Angel Parra Trio, in fact, recorded Piscola Standard live at the Delfin Verde. Cristian Cuturrufo, a famous Chilean saxophonist (for a quintet of the same name) is also a regular at the club and occasionally takes the stage.
The club contracts groups on a weekly basis, from Monday to Saturday, with a new group each week in an attempt to offer variety.
“Our doors are open to any and all manifestations of jazz,” confirms Ricardo, “any group, national or foreign, can present themselves so long as their music is rooted in jazz.” La Calle del Delfin Verde hopes to show the public the richness and idiosyncratic styles of jazz. Last month, for example, Irazu played lively Latino jazz while a few weeks later, the Sammy Dominguez Quartet demonstrated the intricacies of “standard” jazz. (Describing any jazz as “standard”, however, is contrary to the flowing ideas of jazz itself.)
“We want to demystify jazz,” Ricardo explained, “rid it of its conception as mellow, even depressive music…move it away from smoky, dark, and alternative clubs.”
The public is quickly catching on. Increasingly, more and more Chileans are beginning to foster a real appreciation for jazz. This is apparent in the number of people who come to Delfin Verde regularly. They are a mixed bag of university students, curious folks who frequent Calle Suecia, and traditional jazz lovers. Surprisingly, a growing number of 15-16 year olds constitutes part of the crowd. Like jazz itself, the clientele at Delfin Verde is neither homogeneous nor can they be described in simple or general terms.
La Calle del Delfin Verde is open Monday through Saturday with live music everyday beginning around 10.30 p.m. The kitchen is open from lunch until 2.00 a.m. There is no cover charge (a surprise for Calle Suecia yet consistent with Ricardo’s and Leonardo’s vision). There is, however, a minimum consumption of 2,500 pesos per person with no obligation to order more.
After all the talk, though, it is best to simply go and experience it for yourself. Jazz, like the club, is personal and this may be the root of the club’s perceived identity problem. It does have a distinct personality but one that you, as a client , will feel and know.
As the pioneer, Mr. Louis Armstrong said, “if you have to ask what Jazz is, you will never know.”