Archives for the jazz gallery


Norman Mailer at the Jazz Gallery

Norman Mailer and AdeleThe music was loud, insistent, driving. It was a Saturday night, mid-June, steaming hot, the club, the Jazz Gallery on Manhattan’s lower east side, packed. I had the largest group, four tables pushed together in the center of the place, a dozen or so people, musicians, writers, artists, all drinking, laughing, arguing. I was balancing a half dozen drinks at a time. Mingus was there, downing a mountain of chicken and ribs, discussing heatedly with Dave Garroway, an icon of early morning television, the first host of NBC’s “Today” show and a passionate lover of jazz, the pros and cons of Thelonious Monk.

Monk’s music, improvisational, harshly dissonant, took some getting used to. Garroway, a drummer of sorts, was in the club two or three times a week and he was railing against Monk and Mingus would have none of it: he considered Monk a genius. We waiters used to battle not to wait on Garroway who was pathologically cheap: a two dollar tip on a hundred dollar check was big money for him. Years later he put a bullet in his head and I remember thinking that his suicide and extraordinary frugality were somehow related.

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Encountering Kerouac

jack-kerouac-tune-radioThe year was 1960 and I was a waiter in a club, The Jazz Gallery, on New York’s Lower East Side. The club teemed with activity, the best jazz players of the time, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, and a  ton of others; great abstract painters, Franz Klein, Willem de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Larry Rivers; writers, Norman Mailer, Frank O’Hara, Terry Southern.

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