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Jazz at Pearl's Set to Close at End of April

Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco is closing its doors at the end of April

Kim Nalley, co-owner of Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco, announced Tuesday afternoon (April 1) that the storied North Beach jazz club will be closing its doors at the end of April.

"Despite my best efforts," Nalley wrote in an e-mail sent out by her publicist, "I will be unable to gain sole ownership of Pearl's and the lease. Jazz at Pearl's will close at the end of April."

Nalley, an established jazz and R&B singer, purchased the club from former owner Pearl Wong in 2003 with her husband, Steve Sheraton. The couple is reportedly in the midst of a divorce, precipitating the sudden and unexpected announcement that the club would go dark at month's end.

"I would not be making this announcement if I thought there was any glimmer of hope" for keeping the nightclub open, Nalley wrote.

"And although I have had many people that want me to open another place from scratch," she noted, "I think that it is time to direct my focus back to my singing career once Pearl's closes."

Announcement Takes the Jazz Community by Surprise

The surprise announcement came just months after Yoshi's debuted its new jazz club in the city's historic Fillmore District. For many years, Pearl's was the lone jazz venue in San Francisco that consistently attracted nationally-recognized musicians — as well as an impressive roster of local jazz talent — to its cramped stage. The club itself only had room for 100 patrons.

In 2003, former owner Pearl Wong announced her intentions to retire from the nightclub business. For a while, jazz fans thought they were losing a legendary jazz house; instead, Nalley and her husband rescued the club from closing.

Nalley said that rather than assessing blame for the club's impending closure, she preferred to remember "the wonderful run that we have had, the staff of Jazz at Pearl's whose hard work and loyalty helped keep the club doors open, the great musicians and patrons that have stepped through the door and everyone that helped make this venue wonderful.

"Hopefully," she added in closing her message, "I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places."

The Jazz at Pearl's website currently has performances scheduled through April 27. Featured artists in the venue's last few weeks include saxophonist Mike Zilber's Collective Quintet (April 11-12), pianist Larry Vuckovich's Hard Bop Trio (April 24), and saxophonist Craig Handy (April 18-19). Nalley herself is slated to perform on Friday and Saturday, April 25-26.

The club has not yet scheduled any final performances to mark the closing at month's end.

(Editor's Note: This is not an April Fool's Day joke! We checked directly with the club before posting this article late Tuesday night.)

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