The Chamber Jazz Society of Baltimore had its origin in the winter of 1990-1991 when three Baltimore area friends were talking around the dinner table about the dearth of opportunities in Baltimore to hear jazz. There were then excellent jazz programs at the King of France Tavern in Annapolis, and they recalled exciting concerts at the Famous Ballroom on North Charles Street where, under the sponsorship of The Left Bank Jazz Society, the brightest stars from New York City would perform, having ridden the train to Baltimore on Sunday afternoons, returning the same evening.
The programs and the presentations at the King of France were, they thought, exactly what small group jazz programs should be. The room was small, the audience paid close attention to the musicians; and did not talk or eat while the music was being made. The proximity to the performers allowed their styles, the nuances of their playing to be easily seen and appreciated.
The musicians who appeared at the King of France were sometimes young players with interesting new styles, sometimes older, but established players . Bob Wilbur tried out his Benny Goodman sextet program, Art Hodes and Ray Bryant played steady and solid piano, Betty Carter sang “What a Little Moon Light Will Do” with a cadence and phrasing never heard before in that funny little song’s history, and of course, Charlie Byrd, with his brother on bass, and Chuck Redd on drums, made regular appearances there.