Bongo in Squaresville is a weekly webcast radio show devoted to the jazz music, of every style and genre, that's gone down here in Boston through the last 10 or so decades. Join us at Radio Roofscape every Wednesday night, the music starts at 9:00 and there's never a cover or drink minimum.
Check out Roofscape Journal too. Each week we'll be looking at a different aspect of the Boston jazz scene down through the years to today - digging the music, meeting the musicians, hanging out with the fans, making recording sessions and visiting the clubs. To start off, we're going to look at the scene in the 40's and 50's when Boston was one of the great jazz mecccas.
In the jazz history books, New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, and the Central Avenue zone of Los Angeles are traditionally cited as the key nurturing places of jazz. But Boston - as I can attest first-hand - also merits a place as a lively center of swinging homegrown soloists and bands as well as visiting members of the jazz pantheon who often stayed for extensive gigs. -- Nat Hentoff, 2001.Strung all together the names of the clubs sound like Ella having some fun scatting.
Savoy Café - Chicken Lane - Roseland State BallroomBack in the day, roughly midway through the past century, the South End was the heart of the black community and the area around the intersection Massachusetts and Columbus Avenues was the crossroads for jazz. More than a dozen clubs, large and small, flourished here in the postwar period presenting the spectrum of jazz music from the chart topping big bands to solitary piano professors.
The Hi-Hat Barbecue - Storyville - Connelly's - The Pioneer
Eddie Condon's - The Stable - Big M - Wigwam - Totem Pole
Ken Club - Copley Terrace - Merry Go Round Room
Wally's Café Jazz Club
Another spectrum reperesented in this jazz mecca of the Northeast was that of black and white. Boston at the time was essentially a segregated city, as was most of the country to differing degrees. In the liberal North, as in the Jim Crow South, African Americans were denied access to most hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, schools and housing, which were reserved for whites. The jazz clubs of the South End were one of the few places in the city where blacks and whites could meet and mingle, the first racially integrated venues in New England.
Today, thanks to the civil rights struggle of the 1960's, all that's changed. Some would say, however, that Boston's still a segregated city. Be that as it may, time moves on to a tireless drummer and the old customs, along with all those pioneering jazz clubs, have been swept away. Except one - Wally's Café Jazz Club at 427 Mass. Ave. In the next Bongo in Squaresville we'll drop in on a Sunday afternoon jam session at this famed Boston institution.
February 24, 2010 Bongo in Squaresville playlist ...
Sonny Stitt - All God's Chillun Got Rhythm
Dave McKenna - Lulu's Back in Town
Terri Lynn Carrington - Sherwood Forest
Serge Chaloff Sextet - What's New
Donal Fox & David Murray - Vamping with T.T.
Tony Williams Quintet - Juicy Fruit
Bo Winiker - In a Sentimental Mood
Phil Woods - Caravan
Ruby Braff - Ghost of a Chance
Herb Pomeroy - Dear Old Stockholm
Rebecca Parris - Darn That Dream
Johnny Hodges & Wild Bill Davis - The Nearness of You
The show was inspired by a comment from Nat Hentoff.
There ought to be a Boston jazz series - from Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney, to Roy Haynes, Herb Pomeroy, Ruby Braff, and the players continuing the heritage in the clubs right now.From The Shape of Jazz That Was - A native son's look back at jazz in Boston at midcentury. Boston Magazine, October 2001.