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With its incredible photos, stories and eight-track CD, this very collectible edition of Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz is like having your own legendary jazz club kit. Just add martinis!
Open Kathy Sloane's book, Keystone Korner, and you can smell the cigarette smoke. Put on the accompanying CD, and you can hear Bill Evans or Stan Getz playing this cramped room in North Beach 30 or 40 years ago.
—San Francisco Chronicle
Keystone Korner was the quintessential jazz club. With the down-home feeling of your favorite neighborhood watering hole and with the special spark of international artistic charisma that a knowledgeable jazz audience brings to any environment, the Keystone was a happy home to people of all persuasions.
— Wynton Marsalis
During the 1970s, when jazz clubs all over America were folding under the onslaught of rock and roll and disco, San Francisco’s Keystone Korner was an oasis for jazz musicians and patrons.
Tucked next to a police station in the city’s North Beach area, the Keystone became known as one of the most important jazz spots in the United States. It was so beloved by musicians that superstars McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter and Elvin Jones played a benefit concert just so the club could buy a liquor license.
Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club — with author Kathy Sloane's magnificent photographs gracing many of its 224 pages — can serve as a template for jazz club profiles.
The chapters are spliced together from interviews with two dozen individuals who were associated with or have firsthand knowledge of the club, including owner/impresario/musician Todd Barkan, producer Orrin Keepnews, publicist Terri Hinte, and club cook and artist manager Ora Harris, as well as musicians and others who offer moving memories of the club and the legendary artists who played there. And that Who's Who list included the likes of Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Art Blakey, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Betty Carter, Dexter Gordon and Ornette Coleman.
And then there is the amazing CD!
"There just too much great music!" noted jazz author (and editor of this book) Sascha Feinstein exclaimed to Keystone Korner owner Tad Barkham when he started trying to pull together the track list for the book's CD.
The final list included eight tracks by Rahsaan Roland Kirk, McCoy Tyner, Woody Shaw, Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Cedar Walton and Art Blakey. Man! (See Track List below)
With more than 100 intimate, black-and-white photographs, an engaging collage of oral histories AND a sweet Bonus CD, Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club is almost like being at the fabled club before it closed in 1983. Or as close as you can get today!
From the antics of the photo-laden backroom to the underground hype of Ora Harris' Keystone Kitchen, Sloane and fellow editor Sascha Feinstein leave no stone unturned. They examine the backstories of some of Keystone's most lovable characters... [Keystone Korner] is a delightful sensory overload definitive of the Keystone experience.
I enjoy imagining jazz clubs as I listen to live recordings, and if those sessions took place at venues I've known, I find it downright difficult not to recreate (and sometimes relive) the setting...Like most East Coast jazz fans of my generation, I never had the opportunity to experience Keystone Korner, and until I met Kathy Sloane, I appreciated the club exclusively for its live recordings.
Some of my early LP purchases included Art Blakey's In This Korner, McCoy Tyner's Atlantis, and Stan Getz's The Dolphin. Later, I picked up astonishing Keystone recordings by Bill Evans, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Tete Montoliu, Woody Shaw, Zoot Sims, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Mary Lou Williams, Denny Zeitlin and many others. Long before this project began, my Keystone collection swelled—not out of admiration for the club but for its musicians.
Todd Barkan's taste in music fed my musical desires; my life would be truly diminished had he not had the vision to create this club and the intelligence to record the lasting music by the artists who passed through.
And now, thanks to Kathy's photographs and her hard-earned triumph of oral history, I experience Keystone Korner all the more intimately.
Sure, it's far-fetched to say that I can smell Ora's cooking when I hear the tunes, but, with ease, I can now place the sound within the psychedelic atmosphere: the tightly packed crowds awash in legal and illegal smoke, eyes focused on the musicians onstage beneath the dramatic mural.
Because of the stories of witness and beautiful visuals, I listen with new ears to introductions by such favorite artists as Dexter Gordon: "On our last European tour, we happened to visit Scotland," he announced on the first of three Keystone volumes. "We saw the—" and here he pauses with a typically long Dexter cadence, and in the background one can here the clink of glasses. Suddenly, I'm wondering if it's Helen Wray, struggling with one of those weighted trays and working hard to get the drinks out before the music begins. Then Dexter hits the punch line: "Loch Ness monster." There's laughter, and someone says "All right," as in, "Okay, if you say so." And I might as well be in the first row, looking up at this tenor genius beneath a halo of mural as he adds, "He made quite an impression..."
— Sascha Feinstein, All About Jazz, and Editor of Portrait of a Jazz Club
(See Tidbits below to read the rest of Sascha's story. You also definitely will want to check out the New York Times story, Summoning a West Coast Spirit, about how long-time Keystone owner Todd Barkan launched Keystone Korner Nights at New York's fabled Iridium jazz club earlier this year!)
If you like this Book and CD, check out our entire Music collection.
Kathy Sloane began her professional life as a self-taught photographer in San Francisco’s Keystone Korner Jazz Club in 1976, drawn to the music of improvisation, beauty and resistance that was a metaphor for her of the civil rights struggles of the 1960's.
While continuing to document the music, she committed herself to photographing the life of the San Francisco Bay Area with an emphasis on the multicultural and multiethnic richness of the area. Her self-assigned task has been to understand and depict the myriad ways various communities, often voiceless in mainstream media, give meaning and value to all of our lives. Workers, children immigrants, activists and artists have all collaborated with her to make a photographic mosaic of Bay Area life.
Kathy Sloane has exhibited in New York, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco California, and France and has won numerous awards for her still photographs, five of which were part of the Ken Burns' television mini-series “Jazz.”Her work is in the permanent collections of the DeSaisset Museum in Santa Clara, CA, the Smithsonian Institution, Jazz Oral History Program, The East Bay Community Foundation, Alameda County Hospital and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund.
She has also produced photo essays for UNICEF in Grenada, West Indies; Global Deaf Connection in Jamaica, West Indies; and Head Start in New York City.
In October of 2011, The University of Indiana Press published Sloane’s book: Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club, which consists of one hundred and nine photographs and oral histories from the legendary Keystone Korner. An excerpt of photos and text from her book appeared in the Spring 2009 edition of Brilliant Corners, A Journal of Jazz and Literature.
Sascha Feinstein (Editor) received the 2008 Pennsylvania's Governor's Award for Artist of the Year and the Hayden Carruth Award for his poetry collection Misterioso. Individual poems have appeared in such publications as American Poetry Review, North American Review, Ploughshares and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet.
Recent books include a memoir, Black Pearls: Improvisations on Recovered Memory, and a collection of interviews, Ask Me Now: Conversations on Jazz & Literature.
He is the author of two critical books, including Jazz Poetry: From the 1920s to the Present, and co-editor (with Yusef Komunyakaa) of The Jazz Poetry Anthology and its companion volume The Second Set. (Two other books—A Portrait of Hans Hofmann and The Jazz Fiction Anthology—are to be published soon.)
Individual essays have appeared in various publications, including The Southern Review, African American Review, The Wallace Stevens Journal, and The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. He is Professor of English at Lycoming College, where he co-directs the Creative Writing Program and edits Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz & Literature.