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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Cafe Coda’s annual CodaFest draws crowds for three days of jazz

Madison's Cafe Coda recently wrapped up its highly anticipated CodaFest, showcasing an impressive lineup of musicians and fostering a welcoming community.

In the heart of Madison’s Williamson-Marquette neighborhood, jazz enthusiasts gathered to celebrate their shared love for jazz music at the third annual CodaFest. 

Cafe Coda played host to three shows a day from March 7 to March 9, each featuring a lineup of renowned musicians. The jazz club was a packed house as people came to enjoy drinks and the variety of performances.


The club, located at 1224 Williamson St., is owned by well-established saxophonist and flutist Hanah Jon Taylor. The cafe is a unique opportunity for Madison to experience musical excellence and community spirit. It opened in 2018 and hosts community events and jazz shows Tuesdays through Saturdays.

As you walk in, you are greeted by artwork from the greatest jazz cities in the world. Portraits of artists like John Coltrane and Nina Simone line the walls, hanging next to musicians who have worked with them or were inspired by them. 


Taylor made it a goal to bring jazz from across the world to Madison while also highlighting local talent. He brought in special artists including Isiah Collier and The Chosen Few, Adam Zanolini’s Heliacal Rising of Sothis, The Javier Red Trio, The Madison Jazz Orchestra, The Vincent David Quartet and trumpet legend Eddie Henderson. 

Often, these musicians are performing with each other for the first time. Each talented in their own regard, they celebrate the essence of jazz by improvising as they play. 

Taylor himself performed, joining double bassist and jazz veteran Reggie Workman on March 8. Workman is a notable jazz musician who has been in the industry for over 60 years. He has worked with legends like John Coltrane, Herbie Mann, Thelonius Monk and more. Together, Taylor and Workman performed avant-garde and moving compositions. 

Taylor, a surprise guest, joined Eddie Henderson on stage to play his flute alongside him in Herbie Hancock’s iconic Cantaloupe Island, bringing the weekend to a close.

Despite his young age, CodaFest attendee Micah shared that he is a frequent guest, having been to over 50 shows. Micah also attends Cafe Coda’s Cool School, a free opportunity providing youth with a platform to practice improvisational musical skills. 

“I just really love being here, especially Hanah because of how accepting he is,” Micah said. 

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The show also appealed to first timers, including Grace, a University of Wisconsin-Madison student. 

“I definitely want to come back. It was awesome how intimate it was,” she said. “We were so close to the stage and the musicians. Everyone here seems so cool, too: the staff, musicians and others.”  

Cafe Coda boasts an intimate venue. The stage is only a foot from audience seating, and you can have conversations with the artists themselves as you walk to the bathroom or sit at the bar. Taylor himself walks around, greeting guests and saying hello to familiar faces that keep coming back. 

Micah applauded Taylor for the music he brings to Madison and the community he builds.

“You are having fun and being yourself,” he said of Cafe Coda. “Nobody cares what you look like; you are all here to listen to music and make music.”

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