Be-Bop, Be-Drunk: Minton's House Set To Play Again
Hard up to wet your whistle in Harlem? Well Gabriel, blow that horn. It's the rebirth of the be-bop womb. Minton's Playhouse is set to reopen for the first time since 1974, dig? And yes, the bar is stocked.
This Friday, May 19th, at 206-210 West 118th Street in Harlem, Mr. Earl Spain invites you, yes, that's you baby, to come celebrate the grand re-opening of the legendary Minton's Playhouse.
The Fur has a history of the joint shorter than an epic Ken Burns documentary:
In 1938 tenor Saxophonist Henry Minton opened Minton's Playhouse using a part of the dining area in Harlem's Cecil Hotel.
Although the club had a house band, it was the after hours sessions that earned the joint its reputation as a place of innovation. The house band would play earlier in the night. Later, jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Mile Davis, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk and other musicians of the time would experiment with their music, eventually giving birth to Be-Bop.
Minton's ran for 32 years straight before shutting down after it switched over to disco. The Cecil Hotel changed to. It became a single room occupancy hotel for men down on their luck. The neon signs for both places remain, with the Cecil Hotel's on the corner of 118th and St. Nick and Minton's on 118th between St. Nick and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. Minton's is featured in the 116th Street 2/3 subway stop's glass mosaic.
In early February of 2001 the Cecil Hotel suffered a cigarette-sparked fire that injured twelve people and resulted in the death of at least one man. Had fire inspectors not been near-by when the fire broke out, the results may have been much worse.
Since closing in 1974, Minton's has seen a number of attempts by high-profile people to reopen the venue. Robert De Niro with restaurateurs Drew Neiporent and Melba Wilson (who opened the new Melba's on Frederick Douglass Boulevard) tried in 1996. In 1999, Wall Street hot-shot Kevin Ingram sought to reopen Minton's, but getting caught trying to launder $2.2 million in a federal arms money sting gave him little time to devote to the project.
Now it seems Minton's time to return is here. Harlem jazz club impresario Earl Spain and the owner of both Minton's and the Cecil Hotel, Housing Services Inc., will be opening the venue Friday, May 19th at 3:00pm. Live music begins, again, at 9:00pm.
Let Harlem Fur take you inside for a sneak peak.
The stage is ready...
and he liquor is waiting.