Watts’ Zanzibar

Watts’ Zanzibar was located on the “Golden Strip.”

Watts' Zanzibar Collage

In the 1940s, the house band was led by tenor saxophonist Jimmy Oliver who later played with Bootsie Barnes, the Heath Brothers and John Coltrane, and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie.

In an essay in “Lost Shrines of Jazz,” noted author and scholar James G. Spady wrote:

Perhaps no institution in the city was more responsible for Philly’s bop revolution than a North Philly club named Watts’ Zanzibar, located at 1833 W. Columbia Avenue (now named Cecil B. Moore Avenue, in honor of a black attorney and 1960s Civil Rights leader in Philadelphia). It was recognized as the bop spot, the home of modern African American culture. Sonically and sartorially hip, it both nurtured and reflected bop ethics and aesthetics. The very name reflected the old and the new: Africa and America, Watts’ Zanzibar. The proprietors were brothers Richard and Robert Watts.

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