The celebrated Minton’s Playhouse is back in business, although this time under a new name. The seminal club was recently reopened as the Uptown Jazz Lounge at Minton’s Playhouse.
Upon opening in 1938, Minton’s Playhouse garnered fame as the birthplace of bebop, an after-hours jam haven where players like Charlie Christian, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and others innovated hard-swinging, harmonically advanced modern jazz. The venue also attracted swing-era legends like Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman before closing in the 1970s.
As detailed in a press release, saxophonist Patience Higgins (pictured) and the Sugar Hill Quartet kicked off the club’s May 19 reopening. Higgins’ musical resume includes working with distinguished musicians such as Wilson Pickett, the Ellington Orchestra and Muhal Richard Abrams. Higgins’ Quartet and a number of Harlem musicians jammed until closing in homage to the original club.
Before the show began, publicist Dan Kassell invited musical celebrities attending the grand opening to take the stage and pay tribute to Minton’s heyday. Speakers included saxophonist Maxwell Lucas, pianist and Milestone Records’ founder Dick Katz, drummer Al Dreares and Art D’Lugoff of the former Village Gate.
Doors at Minton’s open every day at 3 p.m., the acts start at 10 p.m., there is a two-drink minimum per set, and seating is first come, first served. The club is located at 210 W 118th St. in Harlem. For performance schedules and more information, visit bigapplejazz.com.