The Jazz Club Story
Research tells us that the average
life-span of a jazz club is two and one-half years. The New Orleans Jazz Club is
seven and one-half years old. This,
briefly, is our story:
On Mardi Gras, 1948, four people
met somewhere between Poydras St. and South Claiborne Ave. Each of the four
would have told you that he had come to pay homage to that mighty monarch, King
Zulu; an idea obviously shared by thousands of people. Actually, the four men,
at that particular hour, wanted to listen to New Orleans marching music and King
Zulu's straggling, strutting parade offered the very best.
The names of these men are: Albert
Diket, Johnny (Hyman) Wiggs, Gilbert Erskine, and Donald Perry.
Music generates many emotions. Out
of the excitement of the moment, the very heart-beat of the music, an idea was
conceived -- and with it, enthusiasm, determination, and maybe just a breath of
"divine discontent". We
can not be certain which of the four first suggested it but it was agreed that
what New Orleans needed was a club for jazz lovers. A meeting was arranged for
February 21, 1948.
On that date twenty-five people
gathered in Orin Blackstone's now defunct record shop on Baronne St. Today, there are 1500 members scattered throughout this
country (every state except Vermont is represented) and in 24 foreign countries!
Thereafter, meetings were held at
Kingsley House and various other civic buildings. There were no membership
drives, no publicity campaigns. The
record collectors were magnetized, the musicians discovered they had found a
place where they could hold jam sessions undisturbed, while the non - musician,
just - plain- jazz – fan members listened to their favorite music and told
their friends about it. The membership grew until it was necessary to make
arrangements to hold the monthly meetings at the St. Charles Hotel, for a while,
and later at the Roosevelt Hotel. Occasionally we meet at O'Dwyer's. Usually the
meetings are on the third Monday of each month, from 8:00 P.M. to midnight.
Thanks to the cooperation of the Musician's Union, Local 174 and Local 496, the
various musician-members are free to play for the club membership and its
Quoting from the preamble to the
constitution of the New Orleans Jazz Club, our civic, non-profit organization
was formed: "To afford a common meeting ground for lovers of jazz. To
preserve, stimulate, encourage and retain New Orleans jazz, primarily, and also
all the ramifications and forms thereof. To
help foster and advertise all creators of New Orleans music.
To exchange information that is helpful, instructive, and entertaining to
the other members."
The club's first radio broadcasts
were made by Al Diket. on Station WTPS. each Sunday afternoon.
In July. 1949, our official radio program was switched to Station WWL.
Every Sunday night at 10:00 P.M., CST, authentic jazz recordings are played with
suitable commentaries, all provided by the club. Our Pulse rating has topped all
local record programs consistently, year after year.
Every other month every member in
good standing receives a copy of the club magazine. THE SECOND LINE. There is no
subscription. The magazine has received international attention and praise for
its authentic non-commercial approach to its subject matter:
The New Orleans Public Library has
installed a very comprehensive collection of jazz recordings (based on the
original gift of some 4000 records by Dr. Edmond Souchon), and jazz literature.
Housed at the Milton Latter Memorial branch, the records are available
for study on the premises, 5120 St. Charles Ave., five days a week.
Once a year it is the custom of
the Jazz Club to promote a Jazz Festival at the Municipal Auditorium.
This is done to further its aims and to carry on its work.
If you are interested in learning
more about Active or Corresponding membership, please write to:
The New Orleans Jazz Club, Inc., 1227 Webster St., New Orleans 18, La.
1955 Board of Directors of The New Orleans Jazz Club
George Blanchin (President)
Frank Bonansinga (Vice President)
Helen Arlt (Recording Secretary)
Myra Menville (Corr. Secretary)
John Favaloro (Treasurer)
Dr. Edmond Souchon, Mrs. H. Schmidt, Al Diket, Peter Miller.
The Second Line, New Orleans Jazz Club; Friday,
October 7, 1955; Jazz festival Souvenir Program.