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Culture Clubs: A History of the U.S. Jazz Clubs, Part III: Kansas City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles & Beyond

Karl Ackermann By

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Big Band Jazz took over Detroit in the mid-1920s with the Jean Goldkette Victor Recording Orchestra and the McKinney's Cotton Pickers being credited with playing a pivotal role in the development of that style. Arranger and saxophonist Don Redman—the uncle of Dewey Redman, and great-uncle of Joshua Redman—came to Detroit in 1927 to lead the already established Cotton Pickers. Under his leadership the band became a significant proponent of big band jazz, first regionally and later, nationally. It was rival band leader, Goldkette, who booked the group into the Graystone Ballroom—a venue that had previously barred black musicians. It was on Goldkette's insistence that the group, once called "William McKinney's Synco Septet," changed their name to the racially offensive ..."Cotton Pickers." The Graystone Ballroom later hosted Duke Ellington on specially reserved blacks-only nights.

Venues like the Chocolate Bar, Plantation Club also hosted cabaret bands, the latter was most known for saxophonist Cecil Lee's seven-piece band. The Melody Club and The Cozy Corner provided work for former large ensemble players. A popular jazz venue, Club Harlem was short-lived and later became The Flame. The business district and entertainment core of African-American residences was known as Paradise Valley and the adjacent south-bordering neighborhood of Black Bottom drew iconic figures such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington from the 1920s through the 1950s. The underlying racial tension in the area was capped by a devastating 1943 race riot that resulted in thirty-four deaths and the destruction of much of Paradise Valley.

Baker's Keyboard Lounge has featured jazz since 1939 and is the oldest jazz venue in Michigan. Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, Sarah Vaughn, Joe Williams, Maynard Ferguson, Cab Calloway, Woody Herman, Modern Jazz Quartet, and many others have played the Livernois Avenue location. Cliff Bell's opened in 1935, closing for twenty years in 1985 and reopening in 2005. The club features local and college talent. Similarly, Jazz Café primarily hosts local artists, albeit, in a more opulent setting on Madison Street. Dirty Dog Jazz Café in the affluent waterfront area of Grosse Pointe is a recent entry having been established in 2008. The club typically features sidemen with impressive resumes. Further into the suburbs are Goodnight Gracie in Royal Oak, Black Lotus Brewing Co in Clawson and Live Night Club to the west in Ann Arbor. Each focus on regional artists, occasionally the same acts moving back and forth between venues.

Washington, DC had the Howard Theater at 7th and T Street and The Lincoln Theater at 13th and U Streets. In 1927 the Lincoln became the Lincoln Colonnade and listed well-known artists such as Louis Armstrong and Count Basie, who were also performing at the Howard. San Francisco also offered notable jazz clubs in the 1950s and 1960s including the Jazz Workshop and The Blackhawk where Thelonius Monk recorded Thelonious Monk at the Blackhawk (Riverside, 1960) and The Miles Davis Quintet recorded In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, Complete (Columbia, 1961). The celebrated Keystone Korner was a significant venue in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. It opened in 1972 and featured Jessica Williams as the house pianist for a number of years. Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans, Betty Carter and Stan Getz added to the club's legendary status before they closed in 1983. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley has been a Seattle mainstay for three decades. Its upcoming calendar includes shows from Abdullah Ibrahim, Terence Blanchard, Chick Corea and Bill Frisell.

There are well over one-hundred and fifty cities or towns in the U.S. that have some type of venue for jazz, and far more suburban locations that fly under the radar. In some cases performances are sporadic, or function as a restaurant hors-d'oeuvre, or a lounge act of questionable identity, but for a genre that Miles Davis pronounced dead more than half a century ago, there seems to be a steady demand for live jazz. In the conclusion of this series, we look at jazz clubs outside the U.S. and talk to Peter Maguire, an Australian journalist turned web developer. Maguire has spent years compiling jazz related databases that offer a global view of clubs, festivals, promoters and more.

Bill Evans At Shelly's Manne-Hole


Under the Radar Karl Ackermann Benny Moten Count Basie Joe Turner Charlie Parker Sonny Stitt Dexter Gordon Miles Davis benny golson Walter Dickerson McCoy Tyner Marilyn Crispell Marc Copland Joe Chambers Uri Caine Charles Fambrough Stanley Clarke Melody Gardot Jimmy Heath John Coltrane Albert Heath Percy Heath Kenny Barron Bill Barron Michael Brecker randy brecker duke ellington Dizzy Gillespie Benny Goodman Tommy Dorsey Glen Miller Billie Holiday Art Blakey Cannonball Adderly Philly Joe Jones Thelonius Monk Nina Simone Yusef Lateef Nat King Cole Lester Young Ray Bryant Red Garland Paul Chambers Terell Stafford Orrin Evans Cecil Payne Sonny Rollins Frank Morgan Chick Corea Chuck Mangione Gerald Veasley Charlie Hunter Jelly Roll Morton Kid Ory Lionel Hampton Wardell Gray Art Pepper Charles Mingus Ella Fitzgerald Cab Calloway Louis Armstrong Lena Horne Billy Eckstein wynton marsalis Modern Jazz Quartet Shelly Manne oscar peterson Herb Ellis Lennie Tristano Gerry Mulligan Dave Brubeck Chet Baker John LaPorta Serge Chaloff Herb Pomeroy Les McCann Milt Jackson Cannonball Adderley Keith Jarrett The Jazz Crusaders Joe Henderson Elvin Jones Alex Cline Nels Cline Monty Alexander Diane Schuur ernie watts Bill Frisell Kurt Rosenwinkel Scott Colley Brian Blade Edward Simon Randy Weston Herb Alpert Artie Shaw Johnny Hodges Harry Carney Roy Haynes Sidney Bechet Charlie Mariano Jaki Byard Nat Pierce Mingus Big Band David Sanborn arturo sandoval Frank Foster Roland Hanna Donald Byrd Alice Coltrane James Carter Geri Allen Kenny Garrett Betty Carter Dewey Redman Joshua Redman George Shearing Joe Williams Woody Herman Jessica Williams abdullah ibrahim Terence Blanchard Chuck Israels Larry Bunker
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