Jazz - Then and Now (Chapter 10, page 1 of 4)


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Chapter 10

By the beginning of the 1930s, jazz had found a new home. Jazz musicians from all parts of the country began heading for New York City. New York was now the focal point of music entertainment. Tin-Pan Alley, located in the Brill Building on Broadway became the home of music publishing companies. New York was home to booking agencies, recording studios and radio stations.

The Harlem section--a predominantly black area of the city was the center of early New York jazz. Most of the jazz musicians who left Chicago and Kansas City had settled there.

Harlem can be compared to Storyville in New Orleans and the south side in Chicago. Night clubs, ballrooms, theaters, and saloons flourished in Harlem, which covered an area from 125th to 145th streets, between Fifth and Eighth Avenues.

Within this area was the famous Cotton Club. The Cotton Club had its grand opening in 1927 featuring as its headline attraction, Duke Ellington and his Orchestra. There was a slight problem however for this opening event. The Ellington band had a signed agreement to perform at the Philadelphia Theater on the same night. The owners of the Philadelphia Theater were quite firm in having Duke Ellington fulfill his contract. But the New York mob, who ran the Cotton Club, had other ideas. They sent a couple of their most harden enforcers to "talk" to the theater owners in Philadelphia. The outcome was that the Philadelphia owners were given an "offer they couldn't refuse." Duke Ellington opened the Cotton Club that night, and remained there for the next five years. He was followed by Cab Calloway, and then by Jimmy Lunceford.

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