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 guests.

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:  jazz.

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.