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Room Upstairs: Where Jazz Fare Gets a Fair Hearing

February 27, 1988|JOAN DRAKE | Times Staff Writer

The Room Upstairs is no secret to people who support jazz.

This loft at the back of Le Cafe in Sherman Oaks is "a hangout for musicians, students and industry people," according to owner Dale Jaffey.

The intimate room was opened in late 1980 by vocalist Lois Boileau, who still performs about once a month. It accommodates 70 people and draws an attentive, appreciative crowd that takes the music seriously. Musicians' efforts are enthusiastically applauded throughout performances and animatedly discussed between sets.

"We do a lot that is straight ahead, but also try to diversify while keeping quality high," explained Jaffey (Boileau's son, who now handles most of the talent bookings). When asked to describe the music that's offered seven nights a week, he compared the traditional performance of drummer Peter Erskine to the contemporary style of Wishful Thinking.

The March lineup includes the Brandon Fields Band, Shelby Flint with the Gregg Karukas Group, Les Hooper and repeat performances by Wishful Thinking and Lois Boileau. A record-release party is scheduled on the 20th for the John Patitucci Electric Quartet.

'Room Feels Good'

"The room size limits some things we can do," Jaffey said, but "we get good talent because the room feels good to them."

A dinner reservation at Le Cafe restaurant guarantees each diner a seat that evening in the Room Upstairs. Remaining spaces are offered on a first-come, first-served basis to diners without reservations and then to drop-in music aficionados.

Everybody in the Room Upstairs pays the nightly cover charge, varying from $5 to $10, plus a two-drink minimum (drinks range from $2 to $5). Mondays through Thursdays the entertainment is continuous from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Three shows are offered Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, at 9 p.m., 10:45 p.m. and midnight. A flyer available at the restaurant gives the monthly lineup of talent.

No Food Upstairs

No food is served in the Room Upstairs, but Le Cafe restaurant offers dinner from 5 p.m. Entrees range from $6.25 to $15.50 and include seafood, meats, poultry, pastas and omelets. Most are prepared in a "spa" style, meaning with little or no cream, oils or butter. Sauces are served on the side and vegetables are prepared without salt or butter. Many of the dishes can be prepared in accordance with the American Heart Assn. standards.

A late supper menu from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. also is offered, prices ranging from $5.25 for the California grill to $8.75 for seafood linguine. Within that price range are hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chili, Cajun steak sandwiches and other items. Late-supper patrons with reservations also get first dibs on seats for performances in the Room Upstairs.

The three-block area around this restaurant/club has undergone dramatic change during the past couple of years. Trendy clothing shops, video and record shops and other restaurants have sprung up, producing a blaze of neon.

Valet parking is offered at the restaurant, but off-street parking is also available in the area.

The Room Upstairs at Le Cafe, 14633 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 986-2662.

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