Las Vegas Maxan Jazz Synchronizes Quality Music, Food and Atmosphere

Piano, bass guitar and drums. These ingredients can turn the most mundane scene into something cool. And if there’s one word to describe the vibe at Maxan Jazz, Las Vegas’ newest off-Strip jazz club, that would be cool.

Max and Angie Wirjo, owners of the premises

The spot opened in June at the corner of Decatur Boulevard and Flamingo Road, in a space formerly occupied by a Thai restaurant. While the surrounding mall may seem unassuming and old-fashioned, complete with retro glass blocks and protruding sunroom storefronts reminiscent of the 90s, Maxan’s nighttime lineup and complete interior overhaul breathed new life and air of sophistication to the place.

The other important ingredient for the Maxan’s brand? Upscale sushi.

“I travel all over the world and…I always go to jazz clubs in Rome, Paris…Sydney and Melbourne,” says Max Wirjo, owner of Maxan. “And I always found the same thing: the food is horrible! It’s not up to the quality of the musician.

In sushi, Wirjo has found a solution that is not only delicious and trendy, but also suitable for the setting. Unspoken chopsticks replace the loud scraping of silverware on plates found in other supper clubs. Expertly prepared sashimi and rolls; specialty dishes like United pasta and miso black cod; and cocktails satisfy guests for hours of performance.

Yet even above the restaurant service, the jazz atmosphere remains the top priority.

“I have a sushi restaurant, but you don’t see a sushi box. … not everyone likes to see raw fish,” he explains. “I have musicians calling, asking to play here. I think they enjoy… It’s not like being put in a corner in a restaurant. It’s being respected as a musician and playing.

Wirjo, a retired doctor and on-and-off resident of Las Vegas for 10 years, says his “passion” has always been music, especially jazz. After opening his first club, Max Jazz, in his native Indonesia, and learning through “trial and error,” he secured the cycling of top-notch local talent in his Vegas schedule.

“I don’t just play old straight jazz,” says Wirjo, who runs the club with the help of his wife, Angie. “I have young, innovative things. Sometimes they may not work, but you have to try.

The musicians seem to agree with the ethos, as evidenced by Skye Dee Miles’ jazz rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” recently performed at the club; or the magical combination of cello virtuoso Mariko Muranaka joining the Jason Corpuz Trio.

Maxan Jazz’s Hot Mama Roll

Guided by the soft glow of modern-style chandeliers and floor lamps, knowledgeable and courteous staff minimize distractions during the performance by hanging out at the back of the room and visiting tables between sets or when guests ask for help .

The restaurant seats over 80 diners, but not all seating is created equal. “You can always tell who the real music lovers are,” says Wirjo. “They’re sitting up front.”

MAXAN JAZZ 4130 S. Decatur Blvd., 702-485-3926, maxanjazz.com. Every evening, 6 p.m.-11 p.m.

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