Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Metropole

In one of my old jazz posts here, I lamented how little there is on the Internet about the old Metropole Cafe, the Times Square jazz spot. I remember hearing Henry "Red" Allen there, and I regret, now, being too caught up in the bebop/moldy fig wars to appreciate fully that great traditional jazz. But I decided to look again, to see if anything new had gone up.

For those who don't remember, the Metropole was not your classic tiny, smoky dive of a jazz club, like the Village Vanguard or the Five Spot. It opened up boisterously onto boisterous Times Square, and the bandstand was a long runway behind the bar, seemingly more designed for strippers than jazzmen (and in a later incarnation, before it vanished completely, it was a strip club).

I found this photo from 1966, with Dizzy Gillespie headlining. It's one of a collection of photos of NYC in the 60s by kdavidclark, including a couple of beauties of folksingers in Washington Square Park.

And this one from 1948, by the great jazz photographer Herman Leonard (whose brother, Dave Leonard, did some of the best photos of Opus 40 and Harvey Fite that I have ever seen).

This one, from 1960, featuring the Dukes of Dixieland on the marquee, is by Anonyme, and you can buy it for $900. Why so much? I looked up Anonyme, and there's a Societe Anonyme, founded by Katherine Dreier, Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp -- but they closed up shop in 1941.But if you're in a nostalgic spending mood, you can also bid on a menu from the old Metropole.

Here's one with Cozy Cole on the marquee,  from a great jazz reminiscence blog called Stomp Off, by the noted jazz producer Chris Albertson.

And there's one one more picture, of a rock band called the Teemates, opening at the Metropole. Their web page is a fascinating glimpse at the career of a group of 60s rockers who almost made it.

And still no history of the club. No Wikipedia entry, although in the entry for avant-garde artist Barbara Rosenthal, it's mentioned that she did a stint as a go-go dancer at the Metropole. Someone should write one. Not me -- I don't know enough. Someone like the late Arnold Shaw, whose Wiki entry I did write.

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