In the heart of Madison’s eccentric Willy Street neighborhood lies the hidden gem that is Cafe Coda, Madison’s only Black owned Jazz Club.

You won’t find any food for sale inside Cafe Coda, but the club does offer an array of cocktails and consistent selection of high quality jazz that will leave any jazz lover more than satisfied.

The Maggie Cousin Quartet, a jazz ensemble consisting of University of Wisconsin students Maggie Cousin (alto saxophone), Sean Lloyd (guitar), Meredith Nesbitt (upright bass) and Lily Finnegan (drums) graces the Cafe Coda stage the first and fourth Saturday of every month, dazzling the Cafe Coda faithfuls with improvisation galore.

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The group’s performance March 7 featured a set of music ranging from jazz to blues, and the audience soaked in the performance while sipping on cocktails and munching on free popcorn.

The quartet opened with “Lonely Woman,” a song written by legendary jazz composer Ornette Coleman. The melody was free and haunting, providing plenty of room for improvisation.

Next, the group performed the original tune “Blue Finn,” written by Lily Finnegan – more of a bluesy number which provided a nice change of pace from the almost overwhelmingly jazzy first piece.

The group then transitioned to Gretchen Parlato’s arrangement of Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly,” and finished the set with a fast paced, energetic tune written by Maggie Cousin called “Stingray Hours.”

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The group has remarkable chemistry, each musician feeding off of one another’s energy to create a seamless spectacle of improvisation. Whenever a song sounded like it was going off the rails, falling into a deep pit of dissonance, Sean Lloyd or Maggie Cousin would interject with a smooth solo, prompting cheers from the crowd.

Sean Lloyd spoke to the group’s chemistry and how they are able to work so well as a unit.

“We’re all really good listeners, and we all understand that listening is a very important part of Jazz,” Lloyd said. “The way we’re able to look at each other and understand facial expressions is a key component to the way we make music.”

Maggie Cousin Quartet’s next show at Cafe Coda is scheduled for March 28. For more information on this event and other upcoming shows at Cafe Coda, click here.