Column Chronicles
Some original, historic jazz clubs
Frank Cotolo
November 15, 2018
I have done a lot of things for a living but one of the most satisfying, if not the best paying jobs, was playing jazz in small, smelly, smoky clubs. Many of those clubs are gone now but jazz aficionados everywhere embrace the memories of those joints and the great and mostly dead now musicians that played there. Here is a list of some I recall from my jazz days.
Benjamin Hooty loved jazz and he loved cheese, so he opened this club that only served cheese items while jazz musicians wailed their riffs from a tiny stage. I played guitar on that tiny stage in a band that included Whiff Warton on drums, Spike Pointdexter, Rolly Rollie and Yavitch Howvitch on horns, Uke Butler on bass and the leader, Augie Alluster on keyboard. The group was called the Auggie's Augmented Seventh. None of the band members cared about being so close to one another since the joint had no heating system and was only open during winter months (since Hooty had a summer joint elsewhere).
This place was huge and its owner, Cyrus Cellbarker, was cheap. He only hired trios because it was inexpensive. To make the long, wide stage look occupied, Cyrus made each member of the trio stand far away from one another and in between them he placed life-sized cardboard figures of musicians to fill the empty spaces. I played bass there with Chase Cortez on keyboards and Chas Corduroy on percussion and trumpet (he had an attachment that allowed him to play both at the same time, which Cyrus loved because he had a trio and four instruments).
The story goes that a guy named Rick was really a gangster and he opened this club to have a place where he could invite enemies and assassinate them. It worked for a while, until his enemies caught on that the invitation to the joint meant the end of their lives. I played ukulele, broom guitar, mouth harp and banjo with Studs Demarigan's five piece band called The Straight 8s.
I loved this joint because all the food was free, even though it was morbid at best. Jimmy Skitsofrenia's Scale Soldiers included me on guitar, Fes Walkover on bass, Skinny "Fats" Ebony on trumpet, Cal Kickstand on trombone, Belly Button Barton on xylophone, Libby Livonia (the world's only female tuba player at the time), Crack Bottom on drums and Timmy Trivia on clarinet. The place burned down after three weeks due to a fire that got out of control.
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