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Back in 1982, pianist Barry Harris opened a jazz club in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. Harris followed in the wake of a long tradition. Musicians from Shelly Manne and Buddy Rich to Count Basie and others over the years took stabs at running music establishments. The difference was the kind of club that Harris operated.

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Called the Jazz Cultural Theatre, the space was partnership founded by Harris and promoters Jim Harrison and Frank Fuentes. The exterior of the club on Eight Ave. between 28th and 29th St. looked like a storefront. Inside, as I recall from my many visits, there was a wide, long entryway that ended in a sizable rectangular space where tables was situated along with the stage area and a grand piano. Harris taught classes there during the day, and at night superb music was performed. I remember seeing the Jaki Byard Big Band as well as Bill Hardman and Junior Cook, Vernell Fournier, Walter Bishop Jr., Michael Weiss, Chris Anderson, Harris and many others. The club was forced to close in 1987 when its lease expired and the rent jumped.

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Now, it turns out, a Jazz Cultural Theatre has opened in Bilbao, Spain (go here). Harris, of course, is no longer setting up tables; he’s 87. Instead, the club in Spain was founded (with Harris’s blessing) by pianist and Harris disciple Joshua Edelman and Cristina Santolaria, Edelman’s wife and writer. Yesterday I came across this interesting video clip of the new space that the club uploaded in March. Makes me want to head over just to hang…

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