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Templar Jazz Series launches new Masonic endeavors

for Journal Register Newspapers

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Steve Badalament and his partners in the Detroit Masonic Temple Theatre Company are, well, jazzed about their plans for the historic Motor City building.

“We’re very excited about it,” says Badalament, who promises the Masonic, which opened in 1926, will become “a real entertainment center” utilizing a variety of the structure’s more than 1,000 rooms. But the starting point is the Templar Jazz Series, which debuts this weekend with three performances by Miles Davis protégé Wallace Roney and his Sextet in the third-story Knights Templar Chapel, which seats about 355.

Frankie Beverly & Maze, meanwhile, play a New Year’s Eve show in the Masonic Temple Theatre.

“Jazz seemed like the best way for us to start our relationship with the building,” Badalament explains. “We want to be respectful of what this building represents, and we promised that the music that would be played in there would be appropriate.

“We feel that jazz is under-represented in Detroit, at least on the level we’re at. We’re going to bring in national acts, and we wanted to start with the finest musicians in the world.”

Badalament says the Templar Jazz Series already has several other artists booked, including Lenny White & Anomaly, Cindy Blackman-Santana’s Another Lifetime and the Buster Williams Quartet. Dates will be announced soon.

And, he adds, jazz is just the starting point. The company — which moved into the Masonic during November — plans to bring more concerts to the Theatre, the Fountain Ballroom, the Crystal Ballroom, the Scottish Rite Cathedral and other rooms, perhaps even finishing a theater on the seventh floor. It also hopes to start a comedy club.

“You can really see the forethought that was put into this building when you walk through it,” Badalament notes. “We’re planning on having a blues series. We want to have a rock series and a vintage rock series.

“We want to make this a shrine for great music, and we have unlimited space here to do that. It really is very exciting.”

The Wallace Roney Sextet performs at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, and at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, in the Knights Templar Chapel of the Masonic Temple, 500 Temple St., Detroit. Tickets for Friday’s shows are $28-$48. Saturday’s show is $63 and $53; a dinner at 7 p.m. is an additional $20.12. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly and Will Downing perform at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, in the Masonic Temple Theatre Tickets are $89.50-$200. Call 313-832-7100 or visit www.themasonic.com.

Web Site: www.themasonic.com

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