Birdland (jazz club)
Birdland is a jazz club started in
New York Cityin December 15, 1949. The original Birdland, which was located at 1678 Broadway, just north of West 52nd Street in ManhattanKenneth T. Jackson: "The Encyclopedia of New York City": The New York Historical Society; Yale University Press; 1995. P. 110.] , was closed in 1965 due to increased rents, but it re-opened for one night in 1979. A revival began in 1986.
The original Birdland was named by its owners,
Morris Levyand Irving Levyfor alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, nicknamed "Bird", who served as the headliner for the club cite book | last=Russell|first=Ross| title=Bird Lives! | publisher=Quartet| date=1976|isbn=0704330946|pages=273-276] , although he was later banned from the venue at one point.
The neon sign at the front of the club said "Birdland. The Jazz Corner of the World". The venue seated 400 people and had space for a full orchestra. The name was carried through into the feature of caged finches inside the club.
The venue attracted other jazz musicians who also made recordings there. This includes
Art Blakey's 1954 two-volume "A Night at Birdland", most of John Coltrane's " Live at Birdland" and the Toshiko - Mariano Quartet's "Live at Birdland". Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Stan Getz, Lester Young, and many others made appearances. George Shearing's standard " Lullaby of Birdland" (1952) was named in the club's honor. The club's original master of ceremonies, the diminutive, four feet tall Pee Wee Marquette, was notorious for mispronouncing the names of musicians if they refused to tip him. The disc jockey Symphony Sidbroadcast live on WJZ early in the club's existence.
During the 1950s, Birdland also became a fashionable place for celebrities to be seen, with
Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe, Joe Louis, and others as regulars. In addition Sammy Davis, Jr.performed there at times. Despite this illustrious history, the club began to decline during the 1960s and closed in 1965.
The current version of Birdland began in
Uptown, Manhattanin 1986 at 2745 Broadway at 106th Street, but has since moved to West 44th Street west of Eighth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Notable performers include Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, Lee Konitz, Diana Krall, Dave Holland, Regina Carter, and Tito Puente. It is also notable as the club where Toshiko Akiyoshi's jazz orchestra, on December 29, 2003, played its final concert. As mentioned above she had also played at the original Birdland.
Pop culture references
*Birdland was popular with many of the writers of the Beat generation. Reference to Birdland is made in
Jack Kerouac's novel " On The Road": "I saw him wish a well-to-do man Merry Christmas so volubly a five-spot in change for twenty was never missed. We went out and spent it in Birdland, the bop joint. Lester Youngwas on the stand, eternity on his huge eyelids."
Us3released the single " Cantaloop", which opens with the line: "Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, we have something special down here at Birdland this evening"; Pee Wee Marquette's opening announcement from Art Blakey's first Birdland album in 1954. It appeared on Us3 1993 album, " Hand on the Torch", which was Blue Note's first platinum-selling album. It reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100and was their only big hit. "Cantaloop" is Blue Note's first gold single. It is sometimes called "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)".
The Manhattan Transferrecorded a cover versionof the same song in 1979, with vocaleselyrics describing the club in its heyday.
U2also references the club in the song " Angel of Harlem" with the lyrics "...Birdland on 53, the streets sounds like a symphony..."
*In the play "Send Me No Flowers", George Kimball relates a story concerning a female friend who ran off with a "bongo player from Birdland" after her husband died. The bongo player subsequently "took her for every cent".
*In the play "Middle of the Night", the husband remembers the good old days at Birdland with his wife, in an attempt to save their marriage.
Sesame Streetfeatured a night club called Birdland, run by Hoots the Owl, which was occupied by various birds.
Recordings made at Birdland
*1954: "A Night at Birdland" -
Art Blakeyand five subsequent albums "At the Jazz Corner of the World", "Meet Me at the Jazz Corner of the World" (all two volumes each) and "Ugetsu".
*1956: "Birdland Stars 1956" (Bluebird) -
Kenny Dorham, Conte Candoli, trumpets; Al Cohn, tenor sax; Phil Woods, alto sax; Hank Jones, piano; John Simmons, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums
Live at Birdland" - John Coltrane
List of jazz clubs
* [http://www.birdlandjazz.com/ Official Website]
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