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Jazz returns to downtown Toledo after years of silence

The Glass City has a rich history rooted in jazz. After nearly ten years a new jazz lounge is filling a void while honoring the now-shuttered clubs that came before.

TOLEDO, Ohio — It's been nearly 10 years since the Glass City has had an active jazz club or lounge. 

But now, the sweet sounds of jazz have returned on Summit Street.

TolHouse Co-Founder and CEO Will Lucas said Lucille's Jazz Lounge is his dream come true of bringing jazz back home to Toledo.

"I missed that feeling of listening to live 'magicians,' musicians doing their thing," Lucas said.

As a musician himself, Lucas fell in love with the genre when he was 19 years old. He recalls going to clubs like Rusty's and falling in love with jazz.

He explained that up until now, no one could fall in love with jazz since a spot dedicated to the music hadn't been open in years. So after a full year of planning, Lucas turned one of the rooms inside TolHouse's private social club into Lucille's Jazz Lounge and it's open to those who want to listen.

"We'll have official jazz in an official place designed to be the best place for jazz music in the city," Lucas said.

Wednesday was the first night of a four-night grand opening series for Lucille's.

Credit: TaTiana Cash/WTOL 11

The room was packed with attendees of all ages. Jazz fans, Lucas' supporters and even Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz spoke about the notable existence of the lounge.

"There's probably only about 20 full-time jazz clubs in the country and Lucille's is now one of them," Kapszukiewicz said.

But this room isn't just a place for jazz. Lucas has made sure the music is just as much a part of Lucille's as the Glass City's historic connection to jazz.

"I feel like this is a piece of the puzzle of Toledo's storied history about jazz as even the byproduct, that piano sitting behind me, is from Rusty's place," Lucas said.

Credit: WTOL 11
Lucille's Yamaha C6 piano, beloved by legendary jazz pianist Claude Black, from the now-closed Rusty's Jazz Club in Toledo.

"That's the piano from Rusty's Jazz Club, the Yamaha C6 that Claude Black loved," he said, referring to one of Toledo's legendary jazz pianists. "So it is, you know, an honor for me to be able to have a piece of that history here."

For more information about the upcoming jazz performances at Lucille's, click here.

Credit: WTOL 11