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Birdland

About this listing

One of the foremost venues for bebop in the 1950s

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Midtown
Theater, Performance

Place Matters Profile

Named for Charlie Parker's nickname ("Bird"), Birdland opened December 15, 1949 with Parker playing. The premises had earlier housed a number of other music clubs. Birdland became known as one of the foremost venues for bebop, regularly featuring Charlie Parker; in the 1950s it was Count Basie's NY headquarters. A unique feature of the club was its gallery seating; no tables, no age requirement. Young aspiring musicians could hear and see their heroes in intimate surroundings. The gallery was a section where people could just sit and listen to the music. Almost from the start Birdland maintained its own radio wire (nationwide broadcasts were later made from the club through NBC) with "Symphony Sid" (Torin) as the resident DJ. The club began to decline in the mid- to late '60s, but Birdland was forever memorialized in Count Basie's recording of Georgy Shearing's Lullaby of Birdland and the many influential and highly acclaimed broadcasts which were later released as recordings



Nominations

E. L. Dunn

Named for "the Bird" himself (Charlie Parker), in the mid to late 50s this was a jazz mecca. All the greats played there, and one tradition was that for a break tune you had to play "Lullaby of Birdland"--written by an Englishman, George Shearing. It was a classic club of the time--small, intimate, and for two dollars you could sit right in front of your heroes--in the bullpen.


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