Tag Archives: Percy Heath

Joe Pitts’ Musical Bar

Joe Pitts’ Musical Bar was located in his “hostelry,” the Pitts Hotel. Joe Pitts’ and Watts’ Zanzibar were mentioned in the August 24, 1946 issue of Billboard.

Joe Pitts' Musical Bar

From Jazz.com:

Ray Bryant and [Benny] Golson played regularly in late 1946 with bassist Gordon “Bass” Ashford. They performed one night a week at Joe Pitt’s Musical Bar, and weekends at the Caravan Republican Club, for as long as six months at a stretch.

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Heath Brothers’ Family Home

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

Jimmy Heath Family Home - Basement

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.

Ebony Lounge

The Ebony Lounge was located in the basement of the Chesterfield Hotel which was owned by Ernest and Evelyn Harris.

Alonzo Kittrels
of the Philadelphia Tribune reminisced:

[T]he Chesterfield Hotel, a landmark that deserves its own back-in-the-day column, given its significance in the lives of Black people. It was particularly important in the lives of the performers at the nearby Uptown Theater. This hotel was where many performers stayed while appearing at this venue.

Ebony Lounge - SCOOP USA

In a March 28, 1960 conversation with celebrated jazz journalist Ralph J. Gleason, bassist Percy Heath reminisced about his start as a professional musician:

But I remember when Red Garland did come to Philadelphia he was singing and playing “Billie’s Bounce” and “Now’s the Time” and we hadn’t heard those things, and he was sort of an authority on Charlie Parker tunes at that time. But there were an awful lot of promising musicians around Philadelphia. I really started with a trio. At that time we used to play in little cocktail bars and there was hotel there, the Philadelphia Chesterfield Hotel, they had a lounge. We played in there quite a bit and then we’d go around to Wilmington, Delaware, and play some club down there.

Conversations in Jazz: The Ralph J. Gleason Interviews is available on Amazon.com.