FIVE SPOT JAZZ CLUB - Cooper...

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  • You are standing at the former site of the Five Spot Cafe, which in the 1950s and 60s was owned and operated by brothers Joe and Iggy Termini, who brought in the eras most progressive jazz artists, including Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, Randy Weston and John Coltrane.

    Some of Billie Holidays last performances took place here. Because the authorities had seized her cabaret card, the engagements could not be publicized, but the club filled up by word of mouth alone.

    In 1959, saxophonist Ornette Colemans Five Spot debut introduced free improvisation to mainstream jazz discourse. Although composer Leonard Bernstein visited one night and loudly declared it the greatest thing that has ever happened in jazz, Colemans music remains controversial to the present day.

    THE New York destination for bohemians and visiting intelligentsia, Five Spot regulars included painter Robert Rauschenberg, poets Ted Joans and Amiri Baraka, and novelists Jack Kerouac and James Baldwin. During the clubs existence, whether as listeners or as performers, the most adventurous artists of the time came through the Five Spots doors.

    In 1963, the club moved to Two St. Marks Place and Cooper Square, where it lasted until the early 1970s.

    David Neil Lee, author, The Battle of the Five Spot

    FIVE SPOT JAZZ CLUB

    THE HIPPEST PLACE ON EARTH

    Ornette Coleman (1930-2015)

    Billie Holiday (19151959)

    Writer Kenneth Koch recalled: It was very close to the end of her life,

    with her voice almost gone, just like a whisper, just like the taste of very old wine,

    but full of spirit ... Everybody wanted her to sing.

    Everybody was crazy about her.Quote from City Poet:

    Life and Times of Frank OHara by Brad Gooch

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    William Gottlieb / Library of Congress

    John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Ahmed Abdul-Malik at Five Spot, 1957

    Crowd outside The Five Spot

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    Funding for the BOWERY SIGNAGE PROJECT: La Vida Feliz Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Patricia Field, Andre Balazs, Adam Woodward, John Derian, Michael A. Geyer Architect, and contributions from Bowery friends and neighbors. Poster Design: Professional Practice Class, The Cooper Union

    WINDOWS ON THE BOWERYThe Bowery is NYCs oldest thoroughfare. Originally a Native American footpath and Dutch farm road (bouwerij means farm), it is a cradle of American culture, with seminal links to tap dance, vaudeville, Yiddish theater, Lincoln, Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, tattoo art, Abstract Expressionism, Beat literature, jazz and punk rock. Though listed on the National Register of Historic Places, out-of-scale developments are displacing its residents, small businesses, and historic character. More info/link to Bowerys National Register listing: boweryalliance.org