Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn

Creative Time

Funding Received: 2013
Brooklyn, NY
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
January 21, 2014

The Kingston Lounge, circa 2008

From the 1930s to the 1960s central Brooklyn was home to some of the most important and prominent jazz venues in New York City, including places such as the Blue Coronet where the Miles Davis Quintet recorded “Complete Live at the Blue Coronet” in 1969; Club La Marchal, which was the site where Freddie Hubbard recorded “Night of the Crookers” (1965), and the Kingston Lounge, where Cecil Payne and the Swingers recorded the track “Kingston Lounge,” in honor of the venue in 1960. A myriad of other great jazz artists also performed at these famous sites—among them Chick Correa, Jack DeJohnette, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Holland, Max Roach, Wayne Shorter, Randy Weston, and Jitu Weusi. Most central Brooklyn jazz shrines have ceased operations as music venues; some of the original buildings are still standing while others no longer exist.

In 2008, Weeksville Heritage Center initiated the Lost Jazz Shrines of Brooklyn (WLJSB) project to document this rapidly fading history and create a cultural archive dedicated to “lost” jazz venues in central Brooklyn. The archive contains oral history interviews, ephemera, musical recordings, publications, and photographs—all of which have inspired Creative Time/Weeksville Heritage Center artist proposals concerning radical jazz histories.

Notable venues included in the WLJSB archive are:
Blue Coronet (1200 Fulton Street)
Club La Marchal (Nostrand Avenue & President Street)
Kingston Lounge (120 Kingston Avenue)
Sonia Ballroom (1174 Bedford Avenue)
The East (10 Claver Place)
Elks Plaza (1068 Fulton Street)
Slave Theatre #1 (1215 Fulton Street)

Key questions raised by the WLJSB archive include:
-- How did Brooklyn jazz build and sustain the local community?
-- How did Brooklyn residents experience these venues?
-- Who did these places bring together?
-- What was the relationship of these venues to other regional and national jazz scenes and various jazz communities? How did they differ? How did these communities interact?
-- What was the impact of jazz in Brooklyn on the area, New York City, and beyond?
-- What did these venues look like?