Tag Archives: jam sessions

Beatrice Tyner’s Beauty Shop

McCoy Tyner grew up in West Philly. The family lived above his mother’s beauty shop on the corner of Fairmount Avenue and May Place. Tyner’s family home is memorialized in “Blues on the Corner.”

In an interview with Dr. Anthony Brown for the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Project, the NEA Jazz Master shared that he held jam sessions in the beauty shop:

Tyner: Yeah the kitchen was . . . the living room-it wasn’t very big but it was right behind the beauty shop. And the beauty shop was a pretty large place because they had shampoos and they had these stations for people doing their hair. And then right behind that was that little small living room where we had the TV and everything. And then there was, after that, there was a kitchen, and then above all that were bedrooms upstairs; bed and bathroom upstairs. It was a nice location, and then my mother had to get in a cab to go any place. They drop her right downstairs (laughs) and that’s where my piano was. So sometimes-you know I had an R&B band in the beginning and we had jam sessions. I had quite a few jam sessions in my mother’s shop, and my mother would be doing hair and say, “Ah you guys go ahead play. It’s alright, it’s no problem”. So we would be in there and the ladies would be under the dryer patting their foot. … (laughs) a musical beauty shop!

Brown: So, they’re sitting under those hair dryers patting their feet and you guys are jamming?

Tyner: Jamming!

Brown: Right in the same room.

Tyner: Yeah, we were in the same room. She loved music anyway and she loved piano. I think she might have felt as though that’s what I was going to do. I think she saw the handwriting on the wall and so she didn’t discourage me. I took lessons and all that and I used to practice a lot. And then when I got the band, but she was very willing to let us go ahead and do our thing. That’s where I developed the skills of writing for other instruments.

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Linton’s Restaurant

Linton’s was a 24-hour diner located on the “Golden Strip.” After their gigs, jazz musicians would hang out here, hold jam sessions to hone their craft, and exchange ideas. In an interview with All About Jazz, Jymie Merritt recalled:

AAJ: That sounds like great fun and very productive at the same time. Another general location at around the same time, as I understand it, was on Columbia Avenue [now Cecil B. Moore Boulevard- eds.] in North Philadelphia near Temple University. There was a restaurant called Linton’s.

JM: Oh, yeah. Right on Broad Street off Columbia Avenue.

AAJ: Yes, exactly. And were you involved with the guys who used to gather there?

JM: Yeah. I used to eat there. And when we’d finish eating, we’d leave a tip. And then Philly Joe [Jones] would go around and collect the money for himself as we went out the door. [laughter]

AAJ: So he’d keep the tips!

JM: He was really ingenious.

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Dowling’s Palace

A North Philly mainstay, Dowling’s Palace hosted weekly jam sessions with Lucky Thompson and the Budesa Brothers. Now closed, Dowling’s Palace will reopen in the Hotel Indigo planned for the repurposed Blue Horizon.

Stacey Dowling shared:

Hotel Indigo at The Blue will be reborn as one of Philly’s premier cultural destinations. Whether it’s an overnight stay, oldies but goodies, live jazz, blues or poetry, The Blue will again be where it happens.

For updates, check out Mosaic Development Partners.

Heath Brothers’ Family Home

In his autobiography, “I Walked with Giants,” Jimmy Heath lovingly recalled the jam sessions in his parents’ basement that attracted the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.

Heath Family Home - Feature

Benny Golson recounted:

Enough cannot be said about Mr. and Mrs. Heath, his mother and father, who continuously put up with all of us who used to come to their home in South Philadelphia, remove all of the furniture in the living and dining room, then begin our rehearsal. No matter what we did, how much noise (music) we made or how late we did it, they were always our champions. It was their support that, in part, enabled us to grow. And grow we did.

And grow they did. Both Heath and Golson are NEA Jazz Masters.

LaRose Jazz Club

The LaRose Jazz Club presents a weekly Sunday Open Jam Session for seasoned performers and young lions. All instrumental musicians, vocalists, spoken word and jazz poets are welcome. The house band provided by Rob Henderson features a different bassist and pianist each week. Henderson supplies the drums, but musicians are encouraged to sit in throughout the night.

The Sessions run from 6-10 p.m. Admission is $5.00; food and drink are available.

There’s live jazz on Mondays, from 6-9 p.m. with legendary alto saxophonist Tony Williams. For more information, call (215) 844-5818.

2018 UPDATE:

Tony Williams and the Giants of Jazz now take the stage every Monday night and it is a communal affair. They never turn away a willing performer, whether a youngster from the community, a walk-in looking for fun or even someone with a now-questionable reputation in Bill Cosby.

Club LaRose, which is often referred to as LaRose Jazz Club, was in the news after Cosby’s performance there on January 19. But behind the protests, reporters and cameras that evening sat a loyal audience, one that proudly visits the club every week.

“You find people of every stripe, of every dot, every color, every age, every variance that you can think of is in this place and it’s just so warm and wonderful,” said Toni Rose, a Germantown resident who does not miss a Monday show.

Read more at Philadelphia Neighborhoods.