Clive L. Morrick’s round up of Village jazz clubs was good as far as it went, but it didn’t go far enough. There have been jazz clubs probably back to the l920s, but certainly to the 1930s. The Village Vanguard started as an all-purpose entertainment joint in 1934, but quickly turned to jazz. It is unquestionably the oldest jazz club in America and probably in the world, outside of New Orleans. In l936, Nick Rongetti, a jazz-loving lawyer, opened Nick’s at the corner of 7th Avenue and West 10th Street. It quickly became one of the best-known jazz clubs of the time, featuring traditional jazz, the only kind going then. In 1945, Eddie Condon opened a club called Condon’s with gangster backing. It, too, became well-known in the jazz world internationally. Other clubs were less well-known but had their day—the Cafe Bohemia, the Open Door, Arthur’s Tavern, Bradley’s, Boomer’s, the Greenwich Village Bistro, and Arthur’s Tavern, still going after seventy years. And there were more. For anyone interested, I wrote in some detail about these jazz spots in three issues of WestView News in 2009.
—James Lincoln Collier