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 charge 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.
Here's the playlist for Wednesday, March 17, 2010, then Tal Farr takes us to the Hi-Hat Club, pictured above.
Serge Chaloff Sextet - Sergical
Charlie Mariano - Celia
George Garzone, Brian Blade, Chris McBride - Untitled
Dabe McKenna - Poor Butterfly
Terri Lyne Carrington - Dorian's Playground
Gary Burton Quartet with Eberhard Weber - Intrude
Rebecca Paris - Darn That Dream
Ruby Braff - Lonely Moments
Jaki Byard - Jazz Piano Workshop, 1965
Phil Woods - Willow Weep for Me
The Hi-Hat - located at the corner of Massachsuetts and Columbus Avenues in Boston's South End, where the Harriet Tubman House now stands - was known for big names and big money.
Charles Walker, age 87, saw Sammy Davis, Jr. at the Hi-Hat, once on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Columbus. “You had to have money to go there,” he says of the club, which had a restaurant and lounge downstairs, while the music was upstairs.Charles Walker and Ray Barron quoted in South End Jazz: An invisible tradition, by Drake Lucas.
The Hi-Hat was the first jazz club in the South End. It was established after World War II, when big bands had gone out and performers such as drummer Buddy Rich, Count Basie and Charlie Mingus were traveling with small combos.
“The Hi-Hat sort of became a symbol of jazz in Boston. It was popular; it inspired other young guys to open clubs,” says Ray Barron, who used to book the acts for the club. He started the popular Sunday jam sessions at the Hi-Hat.
The Hi-Hat was an example of a larger club where the bands, waiters and waitresses were black, but the audience was white. People would come from all over town. When I got out of the army in 1946 I went down there to hear Count Basie.Thomas O’ Connor, Boston historian and Boston College Professor
Sunday afternoon jam sessions were a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Only the squares were home. No matter if it was summer, fall, winter, or spring, the Sunday afternoon jam sessions at the Hi-Hat was where you belonged if you were hip.Ray Barron, Pick Up the Beat and Swing
Image ... Mural at the site of the old Hi-Hat CLub. Harriet Tubman House, Boston.