Jimbo’s Bop City

Bop City (also known as Jimbo’s Bop City) was a jazz club operated by John ‘Jimbo’ Edwards in San Francisco from 1949 to 1965. It was situated in the back room of a Victorian house at 1690 Post Street, in the Western Addition district. During its heyday, the venue was known for late-night live performances of many popular jazz artists, including Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, and Charlie Parker, and was one of the most famous jazz clubs of its time, being instrumental in popularizing the modern jazz style in San Francisco. The club closed in 1965 when jazz began to decline in popularity. … The Bop City jazz club was one of the best-known jazz venues in San Francisco in the 1950s. It was located at 1690 Post Street in the Fillmore/Western Addition district between Laguna Street and Buchanan Street. The district was previously a Japanese American enclave, but became a heavily African-American neighborhood after the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. … Artists who played at Bop City include: Duke Ellington, Ben Webster, Billy Eckstine, Miles Davis, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, John Coltrane (in October 1950) and Dewey Redman. The saxophonist John Handy, who later played with Charles Mingus, began here his career as a house musician and jammed with Benny Bailey, Kenny Dorham, and Paul Gonsalves. Other house musicians were the bassists Terry Hilliard and Teddy Edwards. The first musicians to play at Bop City included Jimmy Heath, Milt Jackson, Roy Porter, Sonny Criss, and Hampton Hawes. …The club also attracted writers such as Jack Kerouac, and artists. The painter and film maker Harry Everett Smith painted the walls with abstract motifs and created a light show that ran to the music of Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk. Admission was only $1, and musicians came in for free, but Jimbo Edwards always chose who he let in and who he did not: We don’t allow no squares in Bop City. If you don’t understand what we doin’, then leave and don’t come back. …”
PBS: Music of the Fillmore
Jimbo’s Bop City
PBS: Music of the Fillmore – Scene
Sandow Birk & Elyse Pignolet: Murals (Video)

Sandow Birk & Elyse Pignolet’s “Jazz In The City” tile mural at the SFJAZZ Center, depicting storied San Francisco clubs, including Jimbo’s Bop City, home to all-night jam sessions during the music’s heyday, and the Keystone Korner, last of the city’s iconic jazz rooms.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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