24 Hours Of Jazz: Part 4 - Jazz Earned First Big Break In Big Apple
As part of NY1's Jazz Lives Here coverage, Arts Reporter Stephanie Simon took a day-long tour of the world of jazz in New York City. Following is Part 4 of her six-part series.
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What to do after pulling a jazz all-nighter? Howabout a 7 a.m. breakfast at the Upper West Side’s Metro Diner with jazz historian Phil Schaap.
“I commend you on showing me that there's 24 hours of jazz in New York City,” says Schaap. “Usually I'm the only jazz person up at this time and I'm getting ready to play Charlie Parker records, but you have been partying all night.”
However, Schaap sees fewer people burning the midnight oil with jazz.
“I don't want to sound like a graybeard, but it was a little easier to do jazz 24 hours a day in New York City before, because most clubs went until 4 a.m. and there were some clubs that opened at 4 a.m.,” says Schaap. “New York City really used to have 24-hour-a-day capability but you couldn't do banking. Now you can do banking 24 hours a day but the other stuff you can't do.”
New York has a long and illustrious history with jazz, dating back to the very beginning when the new sound was taking hold.
"It became famous here," says Schaap. "In fact, jazz from New Orleans arrived in New York in January of 1917."
That's when the Original Dixieland Jazz Band came to New York and wowed audiences at a club in Midtown called Reisenweber's, known at the time for featuring live classical music.
“Sort of as an additive, they had an alternative act, this new crazy music,” says Schaap. “And the band played Reisenweber’s and no one really knew what to make of it. ‘Cause there were no sound systems, the maitre’d came out and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, this music is for dancing.’”
Just like that, the Dixieland Band had created a new sensation in New York.
“A couple of days later, you could look down Eighth avenue all the way to 50th Street and there's this line trying to get into Reisenweber’s to hear this new stuff,” says Schaaf. “And they made records within a couple weeks and they're still probably the best-selling records in jazz history.”
After almost a century, jazz is still swinging strong here.
“We started out with a bang in New York City, and probably the biggest pop is still in the Apple,” says Schaap.
NEXT UP: Part 5