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JAZZ A Film By Ken Burns
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Places, Spaces and Changing FacesReno Club
Reno Club, Home base for Count Basie's Band Unknown Band At Reno Club, Kansas City
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Reno Club. 12th Street, between Cherry Street and Locust Street, Kansas City, MO.

Audio sampleJumpin' at the Woodside
Count Basie and His Orchestra

Recorded August 22, 1938
(Courtesy Verve Music Group)

The Reno Club flourished during the 1930s, but was closed for tax evasion in 1938. The club's activities, directed by Papa Sol Epstein, were segregated, and separate dance floors, bars, and dining areas were reserved for black and white patrons. Bennie Moten played there in the early 1930s, and in 1935 Count Basie formed a nine-piece group, the Barons of Rhythm, for a residency; it was in this venue that Basie was discovered by John Hammond in 1936.

Nightly broadcasts from the club were relayed on radio station W9XBY. In 1938 Jesse Price's big band played there, and the following year George E. Lee, whose career passed through a decline in the mid-1930s, brought his new band (formed the preceding year for a residency at the Brookside Club) to play an engagement at the Reno. The club was as important for after-hours jam sessions by the many jazz musicians playing in the city at that time as it was for the music that was played to entertain the clientele.

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