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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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

One of Bill Evans last projects for the Riverside label, before departing for Verve, At Shelly's Manne-Hole featured the often under-recognized rhythm section of Chuck Israels on bass and Larry Bunker on drums. Culled from two nights of performances, the album's release was delayed by management snafus at Riverside. Upon its release, the label was less than overjoyed with the recording quality yet there is good reason to recommend this one. The relatively insignificant cadre of Evans' detractors often cite his predictable lyricism and introspection as fatiguing features of his music. For that group, At Shelly's Manne-Hole may be a revelation as we hear a more direct approach from Evans. The opening number, "Isn't It Romantic," and "Swedish Pastry" both demonstrate a willingness to show a bit more aggression. Evans solo on "Blues in F" is alone worth the price.

Wardell Gray's Central Avenue

Wardell Gray was a tenor saxophonist of great potential who dabbled in in bebop toward the end of his short, thirty-four year life. Central Avenue is a two-LP compilation of which only a number of pieces were recorded at the Hula Hut Club in Los Angeles in 1949. Gray wrote the majority of the compositions here, with others from Charlie Parker, Buddy Collette, Hampton Hawes and Art Farmer. Farmer, Hawes, Sonny Criss, Clark Terry and Roy Haynes play on several tracks of this Prestige release that has never been offered on CD or digital formats but is available on Spotify.

Yusef Lateef: Live at Pep's

Yusef Lateef, known mostly as a flautist, utilizes the tenor saxophone, oboe, shehnai and argol as well on the 1964 Impulse! release. Lateef is, as usual, the height of classy lyricism and his performance is nicely complemented by Richard Williams on trumpet and Mike Nock on piano. Half of the ten compositions are Lateef originals and the numbers include some fine blues pieces such as "Number 7" and "12 Tone Blues."

Mary Lou Williams: Live at the Keystone Korner

An accomplished composer who mentored the likes of Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, Mary Lou Williams' date at Keystone Korner was recorded in 1977 but not released until 2002. It's not for lack of quality as this performance at the legendary San Francisco club is arguably one of pianist Mary Lou Williams' best recordings. On this HighNote Records release Williams offers commanding renditions of "Stormy Weather," "It Ain't Necessarily So" and "St. Louis Blues." Never one for pyrotechnics, she nevertheless crackles through standards and blues, with touches of gospel, putting her stamp on each. Her complex harmonies and percussive style are completely engaging.

Photo: Shades of L.A. Collection, Los Angeles Public Library. Ringside at Club Albam, ca. 1945


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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