Opened in 1947, Club Zel-Mar was located in West Philly at 37th and Market streets. In April 1947, the “ultra modern” club played host to Three B’s and A Honey.
The “Home of the Mambo” welcomed José Curbelo who popularized the Mambo and the Cha-cha-cha in the 1950s.
Bill Carney’s Hi-Tones had a weeklong engagement here, February 28-March 5, 1955. The group was comprised of Bill “Mr. C” Carney, Al “Tootie” Heath, Shirley Scott and John Coltrane.
Opened in April 1940, Club Bali was a popular nightclub in West Philly.
This outdoor neon sign beckoned passersby inside (hat-tip Hidden City Philadelphia).
The Ink Spots performed here throughout the 1940s. Their setlist typically included their smash hit, “If I Didn’t Care.”
Circa 1953, Club Bali was taken over by Norma Sockel whose brother-in-law, Herb Spivak, owned the legendary Showboat.
The Charlie Parker Quintet with Little Benny Harris (trumpet), Charlie Parker (alto sax), Walter Bishop Jr. (piano), Teddy Kotick (bass) and Roy Haynes (drums) performed here in June 1951.
In John Coltrane: His Life and Music, Lewis Porter writes:
The Club 421 on Wyalusing Avenue also became one of the leading venues for jazz. Rice recalls: “I was the first band in [421 Club]. That was right around the corner from me. That place used to be a restaurant at first. We used to hang around there—it was called the Coffee Pot. Then a guy bought it and made a nightclub there—a gentleman named Mr. Roach. So they decided to have music, and I had the first band in there with [saxophonist] Vance Wilson, [William] “Reds” [later known as “Red”] Garland [on piano; 1923-84], [bassist] Bob Bushnell, and a good trumpet player, Johnny Hughes, who passed on some time ago.”
Rice is legendary drummer Charlie Rice who led the first house band at Club 421.
Charlie Rice passed away on April 22, 2018, two years shy of his 100th birthday.