About Jazz Landmarks

Jazz landmarks are broadly defined. Philadelphia’s jazz scene did not exist in a vacuum. Indeed, the “golden age” of jazz predates the Civil Rights Movement. African Americans were not allowed to stay in downtown hotels. Instead, they stayed at places like the Douglass Hotel in South Philly, the Hotel Chesterfield in North Philly, and the Blue Moon Hotel and Swim Club in West Philly. The Douglass Hotel was home to the Rendez-vous Club, Showboat and Bijou Café. The Ebony Lounge was located in the basement of the Hotel Chesterfield.

Jazz rang out from Elks’ lodges, musicians’ homes, Union Local 274 (the black musicians union), ballrooms, private clubs, and historic venues such as the Academy of Music, Pyramid Club, Blue Horizon, Freedom Theater and the Wharton Center Settlement House. Musicians held jam sessions in restaurants, private homes and community centers. Tenor saxophonist Bootsie Barnes grew up in the Richard Allen Homes whose jam sessions in the community center were the inspiration for “Boppin’ Round the Center.”

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