Hitting the Right Note

The Diamond Head Grill mixes up a jazz night worth visiting.

At Jazz Thursdays, great artists come together, including this night with Paul Carlon, DeShannon Higa, Satomi Yarimozo, Steve Jones and Von Baron.

Photo: Rae Huo

Since its debut in January, Jazz Thursdays at The Lotus at Diamond Head has steadily attracted about 50 regulars a night. The event is in the venue formerly known as the W Hotel, inside the Diamond Head Grill and Bar. Crowds can be as high as 100 people when local favorites like DeShannon Higa or out-of-town jazz musicians—such as New York’s Paul Carlon or Arturo O’Farrill—perform. Promoter David Rohner has a unique pitch to these artists: Stop by Hawaii on the way home from tours around Japan and other countries.

The event was the brainchild of Rohner, who wondered why there was no live music at The Lotus and proposed the idea to hotel manager Allan Tam. “What triggered it for me was the acoustics,” says Rohner, whose background includes doing sound for films. The large room that contains the Diamond Head Grill is irregularly shaped with curved walls, a carpeted floor and a raised ceiling with metal oblong shapes hanging for decoration. This makes it perfect for live musical performances, says Rohner, because you hear “direct sound rather than reflective sound,” which you would tend to hear in a box-shaped venue.

In addition to wine and cocktails, such as the Peartini—cinnamon and pear-flavored vodka—patrons can also enjoy Diamond Head Grill’s food. A full menu is available all evening, but the tapas, or appetizers, seem to be favorites. “People order two to three tapas and they eat family style,” says Tam. He calls the cuisine “continental fusion,” citing dishes such as mini pizzas, pork chops and seafood, each priced around $12.

Jazz Thursdays has been such a hit, the regulars themselves started a $5 cover charge to help with expenses and to continue the jazz nights.

Upcoming events: May 14: Honolulu Jazz Quartet May 21: Arturo O’Farrill, piano; Jim Seeley, trumpet; Steve Jones, bass; Darryl Pellegrini, drum

Jazz Thursdays, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Call 922-3734 for the weekly lineup.  Diamond Head Grill and Bar, at The Lotus at Diamond Head, 2885 Kalakaua Ave., 2nd floor, 922-3734. www.w-dhg.com.