Monday, March 16, 2009

Nifty History

The Jazz Gallery!

Originally built at the turn of the century, THE JAZZ GALLERY was initially a corner bar, one of the first on East Center Street. At some point, the bar added a west wing as a hall, which greatly increased its size and capacity for business.

The Jazz Gallery, one of the best jazz clubs in our region at the time, began in the late 1960's. On its stage some of the giants of Jazz performed, including Sun Ra, Sunny Stitt, Les McCann, Sunny Rollins, Ramsey Lewis and Jimmy Smith. Famed Milwaukee Jazz DJ, Ron Cuzner was the MC at most of these shows.

When the 80's rolled around rock bands such as The Violent Femmes played at the Jazz Gallery on a regular basis. Around that time the business was sold with the intent of making the space into a nightclub, but the necessary license couldn't be obtained.

In the mid-90's, the space was purchase by Bob Klavetter, a local real estate investor with a vision for Center Street. However, hard economic times in Riverwest kept this vision from being realized until after Klavetter’s death in November 2007.

Since Bob Klavetter was one of the original members of The Riverwest Artists Association, we believe he would have greatly approved of RAA's purchase of the building and creation of a new neighborhood art center.

As a salute to the amazing talent that graced this building throughout the years, the RAA board of directors has decided to keep the name THE JAZZ GALLERY and infuse it with new life as a contemporary art center featuring diverse visual art.

Please come over on a Thursday night or Saturday and check out the history space and its new tenants, The Riverwest Artist Association☺

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