He has been the driving force behind Moody’s reputation as a venue for talented jazz artists.
He also started the Jazz Artists in Residence series held every July, that offers local kids a chance to play with jazz greats, who teach them about various instruments and music for free.
Meet JJ Morgan. Moody’s Bistro & Lounge and Baxter’s Bistro & Lounge Managing Partner.
Morgan’s passion for good music has transformed Truckee into a hot spot for some of the country’s top jazz musicians. With the opening of Baxter’s in December 2008, Morgan intends to give jazz musicians from LA, New York and around the country another location where they can show off their stuff.
Thanks to JJ, Truckee is now home to the annual Jazz Artists in Residency (JAIR), where jazz musicians spend a week teaching a kid’s camp by day and performing at Moody’s by night. The jazz artists are inspired as they interact with their musical peers, providing an elevated level of passion and creativity that isn’t usually heard during traditional shows.
JJ brings 15 years of restaurant/lounge/nightclub/bar experience into the mix and has an impressive resume and a strong business background. In 1988 his restaurant career began when he bartended at the renowned Balboa Café, where he quickly worked his way through the ranks to become general manager at the tender age of twenty-four. From here, opportunity continued with his vast and extensive experience.
At the age of 25, JJ founded the Up and Down Club in San Francisco, California. Later, supermodel Christy Turlington came on board as the popular nightspot’s partner. The Up and Down Club became known as one of the Bay Area’s hippest hangouts, and JJ’s private party clients included Quincy Jones, Giorgio Armani, Donna Karan, the San Francisco Giants, MGM Entertainment, San Francisco International Film Festival, Qwest Records and Sony Music. JJ produced two albums recorded live at the club: Up and Down Club Sessions Volumes I & II. Both albums were nominated for BAMMIES in 1993 and 1994 and reached number 1 on (CMJ) College Music Journal Jazz Charts in 1994.
After Up and Down Club, JJ served as Corporate General Manager for Real Restaurants /Real American Restaurants including Gordon’s House of Fine Eats, Loongbar, Bix and Postino.
JJ’s love of the entertainment side of the restaurant business was apparent during his time in the Bay Area, both as owner of Up and Down Club and projects such as his role as partner/principal of the 3rd Set Production Company, which produced a Sam Shepard play featuring top San Francisco stage actors and renowned musicians at Slim’s in San Francisco.
When JJ moved to Truckee and became the director of food and beverage for Lahontan Golf Club, he met Chef Mark Estee. The two opened Moody’s Bistro & Lounge, and Truckee’s restaurant scene would never be the same again. JJ’s knowledge of the operational and entertainment end of the business made a perfect match with Estee’s culinary skills and the restaurant and lounge have flourished. And, things got even better in the summer of 2008, when the most decorated American Downhill and Super G skier in history, Daron Rahlves of Truckee, joined the ownership team of Moody’s, adding even more local flavor to the award-winning bistro.
JJ’s ability to bring the “whole package” together encompassing the food, the lounge, the music/entertainment and impeccable service have helped to make Moody’s the go-to place in Truckee and will soon make Baxter’s Bistro & Lounge an equally appealing destination.
Bottom photo by Court Leve