Jazz cats descend on the Hip Kitty
Posted Oct. 19, 2007
Leah Heagy
Musicians from as far away as Palm Springs flocked to Jam Night at the Hip Kitty in Claremont Wednesday. Nick Castillas of Rancho Cucamonga was among them, playing alongside the group Mystic Spunk. Toward the end of the night the stage was overflowing with musicians from pianists to flutists and saxophone players to conclude the night of jazz.

The Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue in Claremont is a small but comfy restaurant where guests can enjoy good food, service and especially good music all in one place.

When you walk into the Hip Kitty the first thing you notice is how small it is, but also how artistic it is.

Vintage lamps from the 1960s and ‘70s hang from the ceiling.

The walls are decorated with various sized paintings.

On one side of the room, the paintings are of city landscapes, and on the other of ships.

The stage is draped in golden curtains, and though small, the stage is sufficient for the jazz players that make Hip Kitty famous.

“It’s cool because everyone is chatting, so there is no pressure on the musicians and therefore everyone is more relaxed,” said Tatiana Miniasi, a Baldwin Park resident.

On The Water Front, a band of four, was playing Oct. 12.

“They are good,” said Maria T. Alvarado, a psychology major at Cal State San Bernardino.

“I don’t know much about jazz; it sounds like elevator music to me. But I like it,” Alvarado said.

Gina Duran-Salazar, a Fontana resident, was online looking for a place that played jazz when she found Hip Kitty.

“My son loves jazz, so I wanted him to see a live band,” Duran-Salazar said.

She said that when she found Hip Kitty’s Web site, she loved the music playing online and liked the pictures of the place.

Duran-Salazar showed her mother, Liz Duran, pictures of Hip Kitty online.
“Pictures don’t do the place justice,” Duran said.

“(This) place is better in person than in the Web site,” Duran-Salazar said.
Duran-Salazar was disappointed that there was not a saxophone player in the band. Her son plays the saxophone.

“It would have been nice to hear a saxophone,” she said.

Duran was excited about the service at Hip Kitty.

“(The) service is awesome,” she said.

Duran and Duran-Salazar where accompanied by four children and Duran said the waitress did not roll her eyes or get annoyed at the children for being so fidgety.

“We’re coming back without the kids soon, for an adult-night,” Duran said.

Hip Kitty is not only a good place to relax listening to jazz music; it’s also a great place to eat.

Though a little expensive, their fondue is one of the best in the area.

“I didn’t want to spend so much money, but the fondue is really good, especially the chocolate one,” Alvarado said.

For those over 21, Hip Kitty serves alcoholic drinks all night, and after 10:30 p.m. only those 21 years old and older are allowed in.
Miniasi is a musician and she was excited to learn that Hip Kitty is always looking for jazz musicians to perform.

“It’s a great place to try out new stuff,” Miniasi said, “It’s a homey place, it’s like a cocoon, which means that you probably get the best type of jazz music here.”

The Hip Kitty is located on 502 W. First St. in Claremont, and it has quickly become a hit among local residents.

The Inland Empire Weekly calls it the “best jazz lounge in the Inland Empire.”

For reservations, booking, and other information visit www.hipkittyjazz.com or call (909) 447-6700.

Maria J. Velasco can be reached at mvelasco@ulv.edu.

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