"…[A] compelling book of photographs and oral-history interviews by Kathy Sloane...paints a vivid picture of the club and its social context in the post-hippie landscape of the Bay Area. What’s captured best in the recollections, and in Ms. Sloane’s atmospheric black-and-white photographs, is the warmth and informality of the place." —New York Times
Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Clubby Kathy Sloane
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
- Editorial Reviews
- Product Details
- Related Subjects
- Read an Excerpt
- What People Are Saying
- Meet the author
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. In this book, more than 100 black and white photographs, a collage of oral histories, and a marvelous CD of recordings from the club chronicle the Keystone experience.
Indiana University Press
"Like the Keystone Korner itself, Sloane's book is a labor of love and a testament to a memorable time and place. If you were lucky enough to have been there, you can relive it; if you missed it, you can go back in time and live in the heart, art and soul of a San Francisco institution that epitomized the music and feeling of jazz." —newbooksinjazz.com
"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
"A truly unique record of a unique jazz venue, in images and words. Kathy Sloane captures her subjects at just the right moment, her insights human as well as visual, illuminating the frank and vivid recollections of performers, staffers and patrons. Listen to the music as you view and read, and it's almost like being there, at one of the greatest jazz nightclubs there ever was." —Dan Morgenstern, author of Living With Jazz
"Kathy Sloane uses her photography in a way that brings people together rather than as an end in itself. That’s unique among photographers and might be her special gift. People trust their spirits with her and thus they allow her to see their beauty. She makes a record of that beauty in her photographs. That to me is holy work." —Julius Lester, author and photographer
"The great success of Keystone Korner comes from the relationships between the waiters and bartenders, the musicians, the people who visit the club, the owners, and the managers. That success is evidenced by the intimate photographs and the memories captured in this book. In looking at these strikingly imaginative framed portraits, I can only imagine the sounds, the lighting and the emotions of the time. The text reads like ambient sound, which I believe makes this such a remarkable project." —Deborah Willis, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts
"Kathy Sloane’s book beautifully captures an important period in time reflecting local, and national cultural history. These images and interviews in Keystone Korner reflect a creative environment, and a rich musical heritage that might have been lost if not for Sloane’s passion and vision." —Lewis Watts, author of Harlem of the West
"The book is a kaleidoscope of verbal and pictorial images by an articulate group of jazz players, club employees, and some who merely hung out for the listening.... Its raison d’etre is largely dependent on [Kathy Sloane's] striking images." —Duncan Schiedt, author, jazz historian, and photographer
"... a welcome and much-needed addition to the documentation of jazz in America." —Hank O'Neal, record producer, photographer, and author of The Ghosts of Harlem, among many other books
"[T]his fantastic book... chronicles the incredible years of Todd [Barkan's] ownership and management of the infamous Keystone Korner jazz club, dating from the early '70's to the early '80's, in San Francisco." —robertaonthearts.com/Jazz and CabaretCorner
"Oakland photographer Kathy Sloane has written a splendid history of the club, featuring interviews and more than 100 photographs of artists.... Keystone Korner closed in 1983, but Sloane's book re-creates it in vibrant detail." Mercury News
"Like the Keystone Korner itself, Sloane's book is a labor of love and a testament to a memorable time and place. If you were lucky enough to have been there, you can relive it; if you missed it, you can go back in time and live in the heart, art and soul of a San Francisco institution that epitomized the music and feeling of jazz." newbooksinjazz.com
"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
"The book is a kaleidoscope of verbal and pictorial images by an articulate group of jazz players, club employees, and some who merely hung out for the listening.... Its raison d’etre is largely dependent on [Kathy Sloane's] striking images." Duncan Schiedt, author, jazz historian, and photographer
"The intersection of Sloane's presence and the Keystone's reputation as a venue for both premier and up-and-coming musicians resulted in an extraordinary photographic record of many of jazz's leading lights in action." Library Journal
"Open Kathy Sloane's new 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
"The great success of Keystone Korner comes from the relationships between the waiters and bartenders, the musicians, the people who visit the club, the owners, and the managers. That success is evidenced by the intimate photographs and the memories captured in this book. In looking at these strikingly imaginative framed portraits, I can only imagine the sounds, the lighting and the emotions of the time. The text reads like ambient sound, which I believe makes this such a remarkable project." Deborah Willis, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts
"A truly unique record of a unique jazz venue, in images and words. Kathy Sloane captures her subjects at just the right moment, her insights human as well as visual, illuminating the frank and vivid recollections of performers, staffers and patrons. Listen to the music as you view and read, and it's almost like being there, at one of the greatest jazz nightclubs there ever was." Dan Morgenstern, author of Living With Jazz
"An essential read for anyone who's ever stepped foot in a jazz club." Jazzwise Magazine
"Kathy Sloane’s book beautifully captures an important period in time reflecting local, and national cultural history. These images and interviews in Keystone Korner reflect a creative environment, and a rich musical heritage that might have been lost if not for Sloane’s passion and vision." Lewis Watts, author of Harlem of the West
"Open Kathy Sloane's new 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
"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." —Downbeat
"Kathy Sloane's oral and pictorial history... is a treasure." —SF Weekly
"Jazz these days is different. The close-knit sense of community between the players and audience is rare, but Kathy Sloane's photographs preserve the spirit of Keystone." —
"Oakland photographer Kathy Sloane has written a splendid history of the club, featuring interviews and more than 100 photographs of artists.... Keystone Korner closed in 1983, but Sloane's book re-creates it in vibrant detail." —Mercury News
"Keystone Korner is terrific as a window into a legendary jazz club in addition to serving as a coffee table book. It is a fabulos book that jazz lovers will treasure to enjoy the photographs and the story of a fabled room." —In a Blue Mood
"This book, on the basis of the text alone, merits a spot on the shelf alongside the classic oral jazz histories of Nat Hentoff and Studs Terkel." —All About Jazz
"An essential read for anyone who's ever stepped foot in a jazz club." —Jazzwise Magazine
- Indiana University Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 8.40(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Read an Excerpt
Portrait of a Jazz Club
By Sascha Feinstein, Kathy Sloane
Indiana University PressCopyright © 2012 Indiana University Press
All rights reserved.
I just wanted to present the best music that we could with the warmest feeling that we could.
Keystone Korner was, as much as anything else, the only real psychedelic jazz club that lasted. There were a couple of little experiments in that area, and isolated experiments in the United States, but Keystone was a bona fide psychedelic jazz club that emerged out of the post-psychedelic era in San Francisco – right out of flower children and Haight-Ashbury.
I was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1946 and was deeply immersed in jazz from my earliest remembered times. My family moved to Columbus, Ohio, where my grandparents were, and we had lots of jazz records in the house. I listened to jazz and became a jazz fanatic by the time I was eight or nine years old. I had literally thousands of records by the time I was in college. I used to work as a construction worker and would take every penny I had and buy jazz records. And I used to hear as much jazz as I could. I first started playing the piano when I was six years old. And it was in Columbus that I met Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who became a mentor to me later on.
Ohio used to have a lot more live jazz than it has now. Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Jimmy Smith – all these groups played in Ohio. It was part of the circuit: Youngstown, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Indianapolis, Chicago, Buffalo, Rochester. They used to play for a week or two in Columbus. It's not part of a circuit any more, so when people come through, they play for one day. Cannonball Adderley would play for a week at the Club 502. You'd have a triple bill of the John Coltrane Quartet, B. B. King, and Edwin Double-O Soul Starr. You'd have an R&B and a blues and a jazz artist all on the same bill, playing three sets a night each, from eight at night until four in the morning. It was a different era.
I went to Oberlin College, and then I went west. I was heavily into Paladin, the television show with Richard Boone, so I kind of went west looking for Paladin and dreams of psychedelia. And I wound up in San Francisco, 1967, during the summer of love, with a flower in my hair and a Fender Rhodes piano, playing in an Afro-Cuban band called Kwane and the Kwandidos. It was a great band. An electric piano, Fender Rhodes, three horns. John Handy played in that band. A lot of great players played in that band. We used to play in the park – with dancers with no clothes on. It was wonderful. It was San Francisco. Hippies. The music is talked about sometimes in an over-isolatedly focused fashion. It's not often talked about as something produced by an entire environment or a set of cultural developments that happened to be synchronistically creating this cultural phenomenon.
I lived near Haight-Ashbury, up on Buena Vista East, and went to Keystone Korner, then a blues bar, to get a gig. It was next to the Keystone cops. [Keystone Korner was across an alley from the North Beach Police Station.] The owner of that blues bar, Freddie Herrera, who later opened Keystone Berkeley and Keystone Palo Alto, told me, "I hate jazz. It doesn't sell. I don't like jazz. But maybe you can buy the club and hire your own band and then you can, you know, have a jazz club." He was going to close it down; he was just going to sell it to the highest bidder. But I came along and he said, "Well, you can continue the club, but it's too small for what I want to do, and I need capital. I got this other room opening any day now, and I need to get the other place open and this place closed and let's get going here." So I came by a couple of days later with all the money I had in the world, which was about $8,000, and I put $5,000 down, and I financed the rest of the club. He had the banker there and I signed a note for another $7,500, and I paid $400 a month for a couple of years. That's how Keystone Korner started.
Freddie Herrera gave me a couple of nights for free before I officially opened as a jazz club. I had Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders there and they were playing very psychedelic music. I didn't have to do anything but keep their names up on the marquee. I didn't even have to pay the band; I just had to get the place open. It was a transitional gig to help me get off the ground. We were repainting, getting the joint fixed up.
So they came in, and Jerry Garcia started to warm up in my office. He had one guy with him, an employee, who did nothing but roll joints. He was rolling joints, Jerry was playing, loud – ten on his amp – and I said, "No, this is not what I want to do." That really reinforced my wanting to make it a jazz club only. So that's what I did. We opened a jazz club, and eleven years later we closed down. But it was definitely a very wonderful ride. [Long pause] A rollercoaster ride.
I opened with the Michael White Quartet on June 7, 1972: Michael White, Kenneth Nash, Ed Kelley, and Ray Drummond. Two nights. Then Bobby Hutcherson's band came in and played for a couple of nights, and then McCoy Tyner played for a whole week. That's how we started.
Keystone Korner was definitely a bright moment in song. It was very much a cooperative effort, a very rare oasis where everybody seemed to be focused, with the same feelings about the music, and that's part of what made it a special experience. It was not only the care that I took of the musicians but the care they received from everybody working there.
There was Flicka [McGurrin, a waitress], who became quite a mover and shaker at Pier 23, but Keystone was her launching pad. Helen Highwater [Helen Wray, a waitress] – that's what I called her. You know, come hell or high water? That was my nickname for her. [Shouts] Helen Highwater! We loved her; we still do. Kristen [artist Kristen Wetterhahn] was working there as a waitress. Jack [San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman] was handing out poems.
I had a series of managers. Tim Rosenkrans was there a long time. He was a bartender, an assistant manager, then manager; later on, he was one of the first managers of the Blue Note in New York. And then he died tragically at a relatively early age. Unknown reason. The main managers were Mark Dolezal, Tim Rosenkrans, and Nancy Swingle. Dolezal had long hair. He was a hippie-dippy. Great guy. The list of employees in [the notes for Dexter Gordon's CD series] Nights at the Keystone is the most comprehensive list, but there is no real recorded history of the Keystone. I mean, there isn't any accurate book, you know?
Claudia Deal, she was there a long time. She was a door person and a receptionist. A ticket booth operator. That was a very important position. The ticket booth was right out in front 'cause we sold tickets right on the street. Bob, he was there for quite a while.
Everybody that was working – whether it was the sound personnel (Milton Jeffries or Jim McKean or Mark Romero) or door personnel, the people working behind the bar, Mike in the kitchen, the managers and the assistant managers, and the waitresses and the waiters – everybody who was working there had the same kind of involvement with the music where they really, really got it and were able to really help support the music and to be responsive to the music.
For us at Keystone Korner, the greatest triumph in the world was paying the rent. And the phone bill. If we did that, we were supremely successful and happened to present the greatest music we could at the same time. But we never got any grants-in-aid or real solid support from anybody except a little bit of money from Bill Cosby and a few benefit concerts we did, especially in the early years.
In 1973 and 1975 we did some benefit concerts, which helped raise money for Keystone Korner. We had a benefit in 1973 with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, and Elvin Jones playing with the Black Classical Music Society, which is a concept I developed. We played at the Oakland Paramount Theater in February 1973 and we were able to raise enough money to buy a liquor license. And Rahsaan was a main motivator in actually having the idea to do that concert: "So let's get the guys together to do a concert, and we'll raise the money and we'll get a liquor license." And then we had another concert, early in 1975, and we were able to raise enough at the same Paramount Theater in Oakland to build a kitchen. And the kitchen enabled us to admit minors and make it a family club for the next eight years. But those things would not have happened without the musicians who donated their services to play. They didn't get paid anything. They just got their hotel and airfare, per diem expenses, but they worked for free.
I've never even heard of anything like that in the history of jazz – a bunch of musicians getting together and buying a club a liquor license. And then Grover Washington and George Benson getting together and deciding to do a benefit for us to buy a kitchen so that we could stay open and help the music out. Grover Washington Jr. was the best man at my wedding.
That's all part of the Keystone story. It's a place that struggled, but its struggle was also a part of why it was special. We didn't have any pretentiousness; there was no room for any hauteur or arrogance or remoteness or, you know, impersonality. We were so close to the street and so down with the people because we had to be. That's where we were. We were right on the street. So we had to make it right there on the street, and we had a network of people.
Our primary form of advertising was a network of volunteers who passed out flyers. That was the main way that we promoted Keystone Korner: with sweat equity. Nobody ever did a press release but me in eleven years 'cause I couldn't afford to hire a publicist. I would print them myself, then I would get some people to help me stuff envelopes and send them out. Here [in New York at the club Dizzy's], we have a publicity department, a promotion department, and all that, but in that era we just did it all ourselves. You know, I enjoyed it 'cause I could get creative with it – put little pictures and all.
I think I was extremely naïve in how low I made the ticket prices, and how I almost gave the music away for many years. My brother made a crack that was published in Billboard that one of my great, brilliant business moves was to buy the music retail and sell it wholesale. He said that in the pages of Billboard magazine, which did not make me happy, but there was a kernel of truth to that. My bank account regrets it, but I don't necessarily regret it. Cannonball Adderley was playing there, and I was charging $3 during the week and $3.50 on the weekend. For Cannonball Adderley. In 1973. I could have charged a little more than that. But I really wanted to make it affordable and I was quite a bit of a hippie in that regard. I was a psychedelic flower child in many ways.
Countless records were made there: Rahsaan Roland Kirk's Bright Moments; McCoy Tyner's Atlantis; Tete Montoliu, Live at the Keystone Korner; Dexter Gordon, Nights at the Keystone, which was just reissued [as a three-CD set] on Mosaic; Bill Evans, sixteen CDs, eight of which are called Consecration and eight of which are called The Last Waltz; Art Blakey, In This Korner, Straight Ahead, and Keystone 3 – and two out of three of those records have early Wynton Marsalis on them. Red Garland's I Left My Heart is an important recording. There are numerous live recordings. All the Way Live, the only recording of Jimmy Smith and Eddie Harris together, was done there.
Some were made by us doing board tapes and then going to the record companies later on. Dexter Gordon's were tapes that Dexter and I made ourselves, and then when the time was right I asked Dexter about it, he liked the idea, and I went to Bruce Lundval at Blue Note. We put them out at a time when Dexter wasn't really doing very much, so it was very helpful to everybody concerned. Those are classic recordings.
Freddie Hubbard's were done by record companies, although one was a board tape that we were able to put out later. Freddie Hubbard was very well paid for that. We never made a dime on those. We never got paid for any of those recordings. In fact, I was so idealistic I never even charged the record companies. No, we didn't make money. We got no advances and no royalties for any of those recordings.
I was able to make a little bit of money from the Bill Evans recordings for the producer fees, although I didn't get any royalties. I've never gotten any royalties for any Keystone records, but I've gotten some producer fees for the work, a few thousand dollars for producing. All the hundreds of hours that you have to put into producing records.... And there'll be more Keystone records as time goes on. There are thousands of tapes. But everybody has to get paid. It has to go through a very legitimate process for a record to come out [today]. There've never been any bootleg records I know of.
We definitely felt a really strong mandate to present a wide spectrum of music, and education was part of what we did. That was definitely intentional, but it was also part of our hippie-esque, utopian vision. And I think it was a good part. We definitely felt that the music, the whole spectrum of jazz music, went all the way from Jelly Roll Morton to Cecil Taylor, with everything in between. That was part of black classical music. That was part of improvisational, creative music. And that's how I feel to this day.
I was in San Francisco from 1967 until 1983. I moved to New York in 1983 and I've lived in New York ever since. My desire to leave San Francisco was accelerated by the change I felt in San Francisco itself, which at a certain point became much more yuppified, buppified, guppified. In the Reagan era of the early '80s, I felt San Francisco had totally changed. It wasn't the hippie paradise that I had enjoyed at the end of the '60s; it was about as diametrically opposed from that as I could imagine. So I got discouraged and felt the need to change venues, change partners and dance. I felt the desire at that time to come back to New York and continue my work. In certain ways, I had to come back here and start my life all over again, but that's just what I felt the call to do.
In retrospect, I have mixed feelings about that. I've been able to continue my work here and become a lot more involved in record production and work in New York City, which is, I think, the central home for jazz in the United States. It's not the end-all and be-all of jazz. I think jazz has become more broadly based than it was twenty, forty, fifty years ago. But at the same time, it's still jazz central, or one of the jazz central spots in the world.
I think the Keystone Korner was historically important in its ability to carry the banner during a very difficult time in New York [and other essential jazz locales]. [The jazz scene in] New York was not exactly flying high in the '70s. It was a very difficult era. There were musicians' union problems and there were discussions going on about cabaret fees, and all kinds of urban crises were going down in New York. They culminated in the '80s with the great crime waves and all kinds of things. But in San Francisco, even though rock and roll was ascendant coming out of the '60s and the whole culture was changing, Keystone Korner managed to be a real beacon for a full spectrum of jazz presentations in that era. It had its historical role to fulfill. It had a mandate to do something, and I think we were able to do it.
I can only imagine what we could have done if I had been able to hang in there in San Francisco and somehow keep Keystone Korner open, 'cause it would now be thirty-five years old. And that would be something to behold.
It was ironic. The club had already closed, I was here in New York City, and an article appeared in USA Today on the front page of the entertainment section about the three best jazz clubs in America. And there was my picture on the front page of the entertainment section of USA Today – after Keystone had closed.CHAPTER 2
BEGIN THE BEGUINE
I guess it was his [Todd Barkan's] booking and his relationship with musicians that made it happen. But it was the rest of us that made it work.
I was working at Caesar's Latin Palace, the Latin club that Cesar Ascarrunz owned. I had started there as a cocktail waitress, but it was way out in the Mission and it was dangerous, and I was a single parent with children. I just needed a job that was no responsibility, which was quick cash, which was why I was cocktail waitressing. And so I realized that, since jazz was my first love, it made more sense to work at Keystone Korner because I lived right up the street.
Excerpted from Keystone Korner by Sascha Feinstein, Kathy Sloane. Copyright © 2012 Indiana University Press. Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are saying about this
Meet the Author
Kathy Sloane has been a freelance photographer for 35 years and has exhibited her jazz images in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles. In New York, she exhibited together with bassist/photographer Milt Hinton. A portfolio of her work was featured in Jazz Times, and five of her images appeared in Ken Burns's PBS miniseries, Jazz.
Indiana University Press
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >