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ghost of miles

“Sittin’ In: Jazz Clubs Of The 1940s And 1950s”

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4 hours ago, medjuck said:

It may have been The Town Tavern I couldn't get into. After 50 years I'm not sure though I have memories (not necessarily correct) of what both looked like.  I saw Bill Evans Trio and The Jazz Messengers  a the Town. Not together, of course-- though I once saw Roland Kirk and Wes Montgomery on a double bill in a Montreal club. 

 

BTW you refer to the "original Colonial".  Were there more than one?

 

The original Colonial burned down in January of 1960 and it took two years to rebuild. The original place was much more comfortable and the sound was better. It was constructed with two separate floors while its replacement was open from floor to ceiling with a gallery on the south wall at what would be the second floor level.It ended up looking like an oversized, tiled washroom with a ridiculously high bandstand on its north wall

Edited by Don Brown
To add date of fire

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On 10/29/2020 at 11:12 AM, kh1958 said:

I heard some guy was going to write a book about jazz. It is going to be terrible.

The clubs closed because no one went to them.  They were too crowded.

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1 hour ago, Don Brown said:

 

The original Colonial burned down in January of 1960 and it took two years to rebuild. The original place was much more comfortable and the sound was better. It was constructed with two separate floors while its replacement was open from floor to ceiling with a gallery on the south wall at what would be the second floor level.It ended up looking like an oversized, tiled washroom with a ridiculously high bandstand on its north wall

Thanks.  So the sound was ok in the earlier incarnation except when there were big bands?

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That's correct. When small bands like the the one Johnny Hodges led or the J.J.Johnson Kai/Winding quintet played there the sound was just fine. Actually, it wasn't all that bad even with big bands, although when they played fortissimo the sound tended to bounce off the mirrored south wall of the club. The post 1960 Colonial had a much harsher sound overall and big bands were impossible because of the raised bandstand. But we put up with it because the talent was always the best. Ornette, Monk and Mingus all made the most of the shortcomings and the music was always the best in town. The Town Tavern also booked great talent but there the artists had to compete with stereophonic cash registers. The bandstand was behind the bar and had cash registers on each side of it. Imagine listening to a gorgeous version of Willow Weep For Me by Ben Webster with cash registers ringing up sales on each side of him. Distracting to say the very least.

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4 hours ago, kh1958 said:

That's why I like photo books now.

me to, especially when I can color them in  -

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4 hours ago, Justin V said:

The clubs closed because no one went to them.  They were too crowded.

The food is so bad there & such small portions - Woody Allen

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Obviously Don Brown is one of those who has the real experience of visiting jazz clubs in the 50's, and the ability to write it down clearly. This is a fine example of how a book such as this could benefit. I suspect that there are many people still with us , either musicians or serious jazz fans, who could tell us a great deal about what it was like to visit jazz clubs in the 50's. The number of people still around who could speak to the jazz club experience in the 40's is far more problematic 

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I listened to an interview with Jeff gold on KCRW today. Basically he said he is a music memorabilia dealer and someone wanted to sell him their collection. When he started seeing the pictures he surmised they were one of a kind and the world needed to see them and thought a book was a good way to get them out there. They’re apparently pictures the clubs would take of patrons, develop them during the show and then try sell them to you as you left. Sounded like he found the pics and became fascinated with them and started researching. Good for him, I’m more intrigued by this book now. 

Edited by jcam_44

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@jcam44:

In fact this is the impression I got of the book when I read the sales blurb and is what got me hooked on it (can't wait for my preorder to ship ... ;)). I still am not expecting wonders from the texts (and do have my doubts abut some of the contributors though I'll be happy to be proven wrong) but I am really looking forward to the book for its "visuals" and memorabilia and I'll keep my fingers crossed it will be a nice companion to the "Charlie Parker & Jazz Club Memorabilia" book published by the Lincoln Center in 2007 (a very nice book with loads of fantastic items, but either the printing quality or the resolution of the digital files used as a basis - or both - here and there leave something to be desired as the color reproductions sometimes are a bit "washed out" and blurry. Which is a pity if you want to study the typical 40s artwork in detail).

 

 

 

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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I received my copy and have browsed through it for a while now. The book is a gem for anyone interested in jazz (and jazz-related R&B) of that era - the layout is fine and not out of tune with the typical graphics of that period, the reproduction quality of the photographs and memorabilia is very good (decidedly better than in the Parker & jazz memorabilia book published by Lincoln Center) and the atmosphere of the clubs comes across.
Leafing through it, you can get lost in a lot of details. So - already on the strength of its visual impact (a few inconsistencies of pictures that clearly fall outside the scope of this period notwithstanding)  this really is a very nice pictorial companion to listening to recordings (preferably live ones ;)) from that era, and can be recommended to 40s and 50s jazz buffs, warts'n all (a bit about warts further below ;)).
The texts will take me quite some time reading and digesting in detail (I am looking forward to the chapter by Dan Morgenstern, in particular) and I cannot comment on the factual accuracy of the descriptions of all the clubs covered in the book so am taking the contents as they are (some with more detail knowledge might want to comment eventually, maybe, if they find errors to highlight ...).
But I just had to take a closer look at the interview with fashion notable Robin Givhan first and must say that I am unimpressed. Judging by many of his questions and triggers, the author comes across as someone overawed either by the subject or by Ms Givhan and the contents and sequencing of his questions often don't help (sure you can comment on if and where 40s fashion has been picked up by more recent designers, but not at the BEGINNING of such an interview - that's an anti-climax of sorts in the light of what is discussed later). OTOH what Ms Givhan has to say often strikes me as a mixture of unfocused rambling (on the basis of "I gotta make statements about it"), speculations (e.g. about why the patrons on these pics were so happy and flirtatious - I mean, were they supposed (or willing) to look grumpy and bored stiff when a pro photographer sneaked up on them to catch them in the act and sell them back the souvenir pic ??) or something bordering on cluelessness when she muses about how and why everyone was so well-dressed. (Did she ever have a closer look at what people commonly wore back then out in the street and even more so when heading for a "night out"? A closer look at some Shorpy pictures would have helped too.) ;)
Even the young ones often did dress up, far into the 50s (though her claim that "it wasn't until the late 60s when adulthod didn't necessarily mean dressing like your mother" rings decidedly false to me). Doesn't take much fashion scribe specialist knowledge, just some advanced awareness of and interest in period styles. So what she said somehow lacks in substance in explaining the fashion of the day and in its historical context (at least to me). I am not so sure either about how they stress race must have been a non-issue in the world of these jazz clubs. 
So somehow I really feel they did this interview to get her celebrity name on the cover as a selling argument, but IMHO someone, say, actively and deeply involved in the Neo Swing (sub)culture would have been at least as qualified to comment on the fashion of THAT era and on its social and societal context.  Ho hum ... (but that's just one chapter, so not that much harm done ... ^_^)
Another quibble: For practical reasons, an index of the clubs described and shown (as in the Charlie Parker and jazz memorabilia book) would have been very handy for easier referencing in the book.


So ... anyway ... anyone interesting in adding a somewhat different visual slant to your listening of 40s/50s jazz - go get that book! :tup

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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On 10/28/2020 at 6:24 PM, Big Beat Steve said:

johnny-come-lately people/celebs

This reminds me of an Eagles song: New kid in town. There's a line in the song that goes Johnny came lately, a new kid in town.

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Actually I have since read that chapter by and on the one I disrespectfully referred to as a "Johnny-come-lately"  (Jason Moran) but I'll reserve my comments until others who have read the book and that chapter have given their opinions. ;)
And yes - warts'n all, I still recommend the book wholeheartedly to anyone interested in the "live" atmosphere of 40s and 50s jazz.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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On 10/30/2020 at 2:10 PM, medjuck said:

Thanks.  So the sound was ok in the earlier incarnation except when there were big bands?

Speaking of the Colonial. 

 

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Just opening Xmas presents and discovered my son had sent me a copy of this book. (We've never talked about it but he knows me pretty well.)  Haven't read a word yet but it's worth having for the pictures alone.

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Your son does know you very well, it seems. Unless you are a fan or collector it takes some special awareness to single out this book. And agreed about the pictures. They do tell stories (though not always exactly the ones some of the interviewees make them out to be ;)).

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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On 10/30/2020 at 4:17 PM, Justin V said:

The clubs closed because no one went to them.  They were too crowded.

Is that you, Yogi?

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That price plus free same day delivery? Sold!

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Amazing ... considering it's been out for 3 months only.
Some 5 EUR cheaper than the preorder price on German Amazon too now.

That's quite a price cut from the original price of §39.99 (it's down to 31.99 even on the Harper Collins site by now too, BTW). Did it sell that poorly for it to be discounted that fast? Unfounded and inexplainable. (Or is it indeed too niche-y??)

For those who prefer to get their facts and (period) details right IMO it still has quite a few factual and textual flaws (that hint at sloppy research and lack of attention to detail - or carelessness or unawareness or cutting corners? - by the author and  a concern more about effects than about accuracy by some interviewees) but it still is a great opus that fills gaps in the literature on the music life of that period .

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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Oh, apparently "today" now means "tomorrow by 10 PM".

Amazon - essential, but still, weasely as fuck when their algorithms feels like it.

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