New York Magazine

Jazzheads’ favorite haunts help determine their conception of the city grid. Uptown? Smoke. Downtown? Detour. It’s unlikely that even the most dedicated fans, though, have this remote spot plotted on their mental maps. Situated on a run-down block in Alphabet City, 5C looks more like the health-food eater, it doubles as (blenders and fresh vegetables line the shelves) than like a jazz dub. In fact, it brings in a number of avant-jazz’s hottest players, including Charles Gayle, Andrew Bemkey, and Evans Thompson. And in keeping with 5C’s very Loisada locale, cover is kept low (never more than eight bucks). Best of all, 5C is a potent reminder of Avenue C’s past at a time when many of its more homespun businesses are giving way to overpriced bars. Well worth amending one’s internal gazetteer for.

The Villager (2007)

On Ave. C, artists get their very own show and tell

The walls of the 5C Cultural Center Lounge are shimmering – hypnotic, found footage of a 1940s burlesque dancer has been layered with jellyfish, flags, and geometric patterns. When the screen darkens, artist/organizer Linda Griggs starts the first round of applause for the video’s creator, Tim Cahill. He has five minutes to speak about his piece, and another few minutes to field a brief discussion, before Griggs hits play on the next video, and our gaze is flooded with lines of jumping pink type, conjuring images of airports and dreams. This is E32 (, an abbreviation of Every Third Tuesday, a projection/discussion series open to artists from anywhere, in any medium, loosely organized around a central theme and interspersed with written and spoken statements from the artists, and questions from the audience.

E32 is the latest in a long line of projects that Griggs has spearheaded, ranging from tenant organizing in her Lower East Side building to the steering committee of the now-shuttered Matzo Files. The seed of the idea came from a discussion she had with Marybeth Nelson, an owner of Alias restaurant at Clinton and Rivington Streets, who she met through work with the Matzo Files. The restaurant was experiencing a slow period and Griggs suggested an art slide show and discussion. The show debuted in April of this year. After only a few months E32 outgrew Alias and had to relocate.

E32 found the perfect partners in Bruce and Trudy Silver who have run the 5C Cultural Center at 68 Ave. C since 1995. “It’s difficult for any type of artist to get exposure, especially if you’re not bringing in any money,” said Bruce. “I’ve been living in this neighborhood since 1980, coming here since the sixties and we loved the mix of art and activism. It was a lifelong dream of ours to find a place where we could host artists of all types.” The couple opens the lounge especially for E32 on the one Tuesday each month.

Recommendation by Filmmaker David Wain (2005)

5C in the East Village is a very sparse little organic cafe run by this amazing old couple, who are also jazz musicians and teachers. They have concerts and classes here at night. Its just got a really amazing vibe. I discovered it when I was caught in the rain with a bunch of friends on a Saturday. We ducked into 5C, who pretty much opened back up just for us after closing, and they fed us food and soup while we talked to them. That’s just very rare in New York City.

Time Out New York (2002)

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Brother Bruce (“the man who heard John Coltrane live over 100 times”) spins real-deal jazz, a la labels such as Blue Note and Prestige. Things wrap up at 10pm, cats.

Time Out New York (1998)

Matthew Shipp/Wiliam Parker
5C Cultural Center, September 27.

Is there such a thing as avant-garde cocktail music? The 5CCC’s makeshift decor resembles the drawing room of someone with a remarkably creative circle of friends, and it’s just such casual intimacy that made this amazing duet between rising-star pianist Shipp and bass force-of-nature Parker into a magical display of togetherness. The absence of amplification brought, even more warmth to the pianist’s sound, allowing him to push for accessibility rather than his requisite sonic barrage. Parker. like the bastion of bass support he is, soloed while accompanying-always heard. never intrusive. The set exhibited a glorious unhurried momentum.

Jaheed Bell

I am delight to say that I have had the wonderful pleasure of knowing Ms. Trudy Silver and 5C for the last 10 years.

I remember meeting Trudy in her piano theory class when I attended Town Hall’s Repertory Company High School back in 1997. 1 was about 16 years old at that time and had an aptitude for music. Singing specifically! Trudy introduced me to her Cafe, 5C Cultural Center and a whole new world of Jazz music. In Trudy’s 5C lab, she took what was only an aptitude for me and expanded my knowledge of technical and improvised Jazz. She encouraged, tutored, mentored and still mentors me from time to time… all in this same 5C lab! I have developed a confidence like no other with regards to my musical performance. Tours, recordings and solos are a piece of cake because of the chemistry of love and music 5C has provided me.

I am glad 5Cs doors were open in 2001 when my mother was in and out of 30 New York City hospitals because of her paranoia schizophrenia. I am glad 5C never turned me away when I was unemployed and could not pay for my vocal coaching. 5C is the reason why I made it out of high school WITH a diploma. 5Cs doors have been open for me and young people like me every step of the way. 5C was and still is my home away from home!

Because of Trudy’s outstanding musicianship and the skills I have attained from 5C, I was selected to sing on a national tour in Italy, compete in the McDonald’s Gospelfest, Grand Prize of the Netherlands and sing for the National Congress of Education in Berlin, and recently, my own original composition called, ‘Supersexual’ was played on national Dutch radio here in the Netherlands bringing about an array of other countless opportunities.

5C and its facets have allowed me to develop great musical relationships with top-notch Jazz musicians, MCs and songwriters such as Sheila Brown, Roy Campbell, Jr., Latin Jazz pianist, Ramon Valle of Cuba, Christopher Mapp of Hip-Hop Project: The Movie. Furthermore, I am in the process of completing my first official album entitled ‘Stay Tuned’ releasing in Amsterdam and so much more.

I hate to say this but if it were not for 5C, I think I may have ended up as another troubled urban statistic. I thank GOD that there are places like 5C that nurture natural gifts. I thank SC for giving inner city youths the tools they need to not choose the streets to put food on the table.

Thank you 5C, Trudy and Bruce, the backbones of 5C.
You make sure that every youth considers the musical notes of life.

Time Out New York (April 14, 2010)

Trudy Silver, cofounder and artistic director of 15-year-old cultural center 5C (68 Avenue C at E 5th St; 212-477-5993,, says of Bolero Jazz Wednesdays (7:30pm, free), “It’s not really a dance thing; it’s more intimate. There’s a grand piano. It’s like a living room.”

Leading the Latin-flavored musical evening is Puerto Rican bass player Joe Falcon, who has been a fixture at 5C ever since it opened its doors back in 1995. “He tells stories of life on the island, and people he’s worked with, but doesn’t make you feel like you need to speak Spanish to know what he’s talking about”

Falcon, a retired social worker, brings along singer Andrea Oliva, conga maestro Emilio Ortega and guitarist Luis Rodriguez, though each week promises a whole new lineup of musicians who share the stage with him. For some post-show nibbles, you can keep up the lowkey vibe with dishes like fresh hummus served with raw veggies, pita wedges and crostini ($10)—plus a glass of wine ($6–$10), of course.

TONY Blog: Relax Here: Bolero Jazz Wednesdays

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