Madison has a long history of embracing the cultural arts as a source of community pride and as a lure to shoppers and diners to the Rose City.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic placing severe restrictions on restaurants and clubs, many establishments are struggling to make ends meet, particularly dining-entertainment venues such as Shanghai Jazz.

A Main Street fixture for 25 years and recognized by Downbeat magazine as “one of the top 100 jazz clubs in the world,” Shanghai Jazz will host a benefit show Wednesday featuring renowned pianist Jerry Vezza and his trio, including vocalist Brynn Stanley and guitarist-vocalist Grover Kemble.

The evening, which includes a $100 pre-fixe dinner menu from Shanghai Jazz’s refined Asian menu, will take place behind the club in its parking lot off Cook Avenue. Proceeds will go to the nonprofit Madison Arts and Cultural Alliance and also help the club cover expenses.

“It’s a rare gem, especially in New Jersey,” said Vezza, a founding MACA member and its current president. “It’s not easy to have a viable jazz club in New Jersey. Shanghai is about it.”

Vezza has been playing there since the club was opened by David Niu and Maggie Chang in 1995.

“It’s the only place keeping the art form alive,” he said “That’s a really big deal, and the fact that it is happening in Madison is special. And it brings in people from rather far away. Union County, Somerset County. Some people even come up from the Jersey Shore, or reverse-commute from New York.”

Other cultural lures to Madison typically include
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