Jazzed in Cleveland
a jazz history by Joe Mosbrook
a special WMV Web News Cleveland series

Part 49 - Some Historic Cleveland Jazz Clubs
Story filed January 3, 2000

For years, I have been attempting to put together a list of important Cleveland jazz nightclubs including the years they were in operation and some of the musicians who performed at the clubs. Drawing on information from my interviews and research and some information shared by historian Bill Anderson, here is the latest attempt:

  • Agora Ballroom, 1730 East 24th Street
    Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck and others played at the Agora in the 1970s and '80s.

  • Boarding House, 11311 Euclid Avenue near Mayfield
    Presenting local groups since 1976.

  • Café Society, 966 East 105th Street
    Featuring local musicians from 1948 until the late 1970s

  • Café Tia Juana, East 105th & Massie Avenue
    From 1947 to the early 1970s presented many local and national jazz musicians including Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Cole, Erroll Garner, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis.

  • Cedar Gardens, East 97th & Cedar
    Originally a Chinese restaurant called the Butterfly Inn, it was owned in the 1930s by Jacob Hecht. He opened his large basement room as a nightclub and from 1934 to the 1940s, presented full floor shows with a house band led by Marion Sears. The musicians at times included Buster Harding, Andy Anderson, Francis Williams, Earle Warren, Freddie Webster, Tadd Dameron, Bull Moose Jackson and Pee Wee Jackson. From the 1940s until the late '60s, local groups played at Cedar Gardens.

  • Chatterbox, 5123 Woodland Avenue
    Mostly rhythm and blues from 1949 to 1959. Jazz artists in the late 1950s included James Moody, Jimmy Rushing, Betty Carter, Carmen McRae and Dinah Washington.

  • Chung's Restaurant, 21080 Lorain Avenue, Fairview Park
    Featured mainstream jazz from the late 1970s to the late '80s with such artists as Art Hodes, Dave McKenna, Kenny Davern, Dick Hyman and Maxine Sullivan.

  • Cleveland Bop Stop, West 6th & Lakeside Avenue
    Opened in 1991 by vibraphonist Ron Busch at East 40th and St. Clair. Moved to larger room on West 6th Street in 1996 and features top local and national artists.

  • Club Isabella, University Circle
    Began featuring leading local jazz musicians in the 1980s.

  • Club 100, East 100th and Euclid
    From 1959 to 1966 presented such artists as Gay Crosse, Joe Alexander, Eddie Baccus, Roland Kirk and Weasel Parker (often playing in the front window). Destroyed by fire in 1966.

  • Club Rendezvous, East 97th & Cedar
    Operated from the early 1940s by Caesar Dameron and presented many name jazz artists including Lionel Hampton.

  • Corner Tavern, East 78th & Cedar
    Opened in 1953 with many local artists. In 1963, began booking such national acts as Jimmy McGriff, J.J. Johnson, Ramsey Lewis, Jack McDuff and Stanley Turrentine. Burned down in 1965,

  • Cotton Club, East 55th near Cedar
    Presented the Fletcher Henderson and Don Redman orchestras in 1934. Operated in the late 1940s by John Powell, Sr.

  • Cotton Club, East 4th and Huron
    Opened in 1954 and booked the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1956. Later became the Modern Jazz Room.

  • Eastown Motor Hotel, 15103 Euclid Avenue, East Cleveland
    During the 1970s, featured many national jazz artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Smith, Johnny Hartman, James Moody, Joe Williams, Betty Carter, Kenny Burrell, Freddie Hubbard and Art Blakey.

  • Ebony Lounge, 6916 Cedar Avenue
    From 1949 to 1959, booked such artists as Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Illinois Jacquet, Oscar Peterson, James Moody, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Hodges, J.J. Johnson, Miles Davis, Milt Jackson, Zoot Sims and Kenny Clarke

  • Elite Club, East 97th & Cedar Avenue
    Operated by Phil Taylor across the street from Cedar Gardens. Presented ten-piece bands in the early 1940s. Young Cleveland trumpeters Freddie Webster and Benny Bailey played at the Elite Club.

  • Esquire Lounge, 10530 Euclid Avenue
    From 1961 to 1970, featured Eddie Baccus and other Cleveland artists

  • Euclid Shore Club, Lakeshore Boulevard
    Began as a private club in 1955 by saxophonist Hank Geer, it soon became a popular public club. Joe Lovano later remembered his father, Tony Lovano, would often take him the Euclid Shore Club where he listened to such Cleveland artists as Bill Gidney, Bill DeArango, Ace Carter, Chink Stevenson and Eddie Baccus.

  • Gleason's, East 55th & Woodland Avenue
    Open from 1942 to 1962. William "Jap" Gleason presented local jazz musicians in the '40s and national artists in the '50s and '60s including Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Hodges, James Moody, Illnois Jacquet, Sonny Stitt, Benny Green, Jimmy Rushing, Snooky Young and Rusty Bryant. At the same location from 1964 to 1967, the House of Blues presented many national acts.

  • Golden Pheasant Chinese Restaurant, 944 Prospect Avenue
    In the late 1920s, Austin Wylie's Orchestra played there. The band included Artie Shaw, Claude Thornhill and Tony Pastor. In the early 1930s, Red Nichols and his Five Pennies made nation radio broadcasts from the Golden Pheasant

  • Hot Spot, West 3rd & Superior
    A popular place for jam sessions in 1939.

  • House of Swing, 4490 Mayfield Road, South Euclid
    Opened in 1977 by Lou Kallie and featured mainly music from his large record collection. After Kallie's death, his wife, Linda, began presenting more live jazz.

  • Jazz Temple, 13141 Mayfield Road near Euclid Avenue
    Opened in 1962 by Winston Willis who presented Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers, Philly Joe Jones, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Donald Byrd, Jimmy Heath, Miles Davis, Jimmy Smith, Stan Getz and Dinah Washington. Closed after a bomb explosion and a shooting incident in 1963. Singer Gloria Lynne was accidently shot in the leg during an argument.

  • Lancer, East 77th & Carnegie
    Operated in the 1960s and '70s by Fleet Slaughter and later by George Dixon, the Lancer was a popular spot for jazz and featured many local groups.

  • Leo's Casino, 7500 Euclid Avenue
    Opened by Leo Frank in 1954 at East 49th and Central. After a fire, moved to Carnegie Avenue and then, to 7500 Euclid Avenue where there was seating for more than 700 people. Jazz artists who played at Leo's included Oscar Peterson, Joe Williams, Carmen McRae, Count Basie, Ahmad Jamal, Thelonious Monk, Roland Kirk and Wes Montgomery. Closed in 1971.

  • Lindsay's Sky Bar, East 105th & Euclid
    Operated from the late 1930s until 1952 by Phil and Rickie Bash, the Sky Bar featured such local players as Benny Bailey, Caesar and Tadd Dameron, Gay Crosse, Willie Smith, Benny Miller and Sunday jam sessions. In 1951 and 1952, the club presented Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Charlie Parker, Art Tatum with Slam Stewart, Erroll Garner, Johnny Hodges, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Mary Lou Williams, Oscar Peterson and many others.

  • Loop Lounge, 612 Prospect Avenue
    Opened by Teddy Blackmon in 1948, the Loop presented such artists as Gene Ammons, Roy Eldridge, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Chet Baker, Johnny Hodges, Milt Buckner, Terry Gibbs, Illinois Jacquet, James Moody, Max Roach, Sonny Stitt and Charlie Parker. The Club closed in 1958.

  • Lucky Bar, 9812 Cedar Avenue
    From the 1940s to 1969, the Lucky Bar was the musical home of Gay Crosse and other Cleveland musicians.

  • Majestic Hotel, East 55th & Central
    Cleveland's primary African-American hotel had a jazz room as early as 1931. Originally, it was called the Furnace Room. Later the name was changed to the Heatwave. It closed for a while and re-opened as the Rose Room. In the 1940s and 50s, the Majestic offered Monday jam sessions called "The Blue Monday Party" (frequently with touring musicians). The jam sessions began at 5:30 p.m. and often ran until 11 the next morning. In 1952, Gay Crosse's band at the Rose Room included John Coltrane. Through most of the 1950s, Duke Jenkins led the house band.

  • Mardi Gras, 1423 East 21st Street
    Became a popular jazz spot in the 1990s.

  • Mirror Show Bar, 12376 Superior Avenue
    From 1956 until 1962, the Show Bar presented such Cleveland musicians as Bill Gidney, Chink McKinney, Weasel Parker, Tony Lovano and Bobby Few. Continued as the Kit-Kat Lounge from 1962 to 1969.

  • Modern Jazz Room, 2230 East 4th Street
    Opened in 1954 as "The Cotton Club." Drummer Fats Heard bought the club in 1957 and renamed it "The Modern Jazz Room." Continued until 1960 with such artists as Erroll Garner (with whom Heard had toured and recorded), J.J. Johnson, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae, the Modern Jazz Quartet, George Shearing, Jimmy Giuffre, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bud Shank and Abbey Lincoln.

  • Moe's Main Street, East 79th and Euclid
    Operating in the late 1940s and early '50s, Moe's presented such artists as Muggsy Spanier, the Four Freshmen and Mel Tormé.

  • Native Son, 15305 Kinsman Avenue
    A popular jazz spot in the 1980s and '90s, known for its Saturday jam sessions.

  • Nighttown, 12383 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights
    Beginning in 1978, Nighttown began featuring local musicians. Then, in 1988, started booking such national artists as Marty Grosz, Art Hodes, Dave McKenna, Ralph Sutton and Scott Hamilton.

  • Peabody's Café, Cedar and Taylor Roads, Cleveland Heights
    Beginning in 1978, featured such artists as Spyro Gyra, Yusef Lateef, Phil Woods, Lew Tabackin and Henry Threadgill. In the late 1990s, the name of the club was changed to "The Rhythm Room."

  • Peabody's DownUnder, 1059 Old River Road, Cleveland Flats
    In 1983 began booking such jazz artists as Stan Getz, Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, Maynard Ferguson, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, Flora Purim and Airto, David Murray, Stanley Jordan, Dave Holland, Betty Carter, Elvin Jones, Emily Remler, John Scofield and Craig Harris.

  • Rusty Nail, Route 43, Twin Lakes
    Featured traditional jazz bands, including the Earlville Jazz Band, beginning in the 1970s.

  • Sammy's, 1400 West 10th in the Cleveland Flats
    An upscale restaurant overlooking the Cuyahoga River, began in 1980 to feaure jazz with various groups led by saxophonist Hank Geer.

  • Sir-Rah's House, 4170 Lee Road
    Presented jazz from 1966 to 1986, including Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Grant Green and Lou Donaldson

  • Sixth Street Under, 1266 West 6th Street
    A popular jazz club in the 1990s.

  • Smiling Dog Saloon, West 25th & Woodbridge Avenue
    Operated by Roger Bohn from 1971 to 1975. Presented such artists as McCoy Tyner, Weather Report, Oregon, Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Charlie Mingus, Pharoah Sanders, Keith Jarrett, Miles Davis and Sun Ra.

  • Theatrical Grill, 711 Vincent Avenue
    Cleveland's longest running jazz club, from 1937 to 1990! Artists included Jack Teagarden, Muggsy Spanier, Bobby Hackett, Marian McPartland, Wild Bill Davison, Joe Venuti, Red Allen, Gene Krupa, Dizzy Gillespie, Red Norvo, Earl Hines and, for years, Bill Doggett. The Theatrical burned down in 1960 but re-opened in a larger building less than a year later.

  • Towne Casino, 10613 Euclid Avenue
    From 1951 to 1953, presented big bands led by Lionel Hampton, Stan Kenton and Count Basie as well as such individual artists as Coleman Hawkins, Howard McGhee, J.J. Johnson, Sarah Vaughan, George Shearing and Louis Armstrong.

  • Turf Club, East 97th and Cedar Avenue
    A young Wilberforce College student from Cleveland named Rose Murphy began entertaining here in 1933.

  • Val's in the Alley, near East 86th & Cedar Avenue
    An after-hours club in the private home of Milo Valentine, Val's in the Alley was the musical home of pianist Art Tatum from the late 1920s to the early 1940s.
If you have any additions or corrections, please e-mail the information to me. Thanks!

Copyright 2000 Joe Mosbrook

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You can hear radio versions of Cleveland Jazz History on WCPN/90.3 Monday nights at 9:30 and Friday afternoons at 12:30. Mosbrook's 1993 Cleveland Jazz History book, based on research for earlier broadcasts, is available at some Cleveland area bookstores, libraries and the Northeast Ohio Jazz Society (216-426-9900).