February 13, 2019

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A Prez Day- Monday, February 18th

Blog Name:Home Page News

Blog Author:San Diego's Jazz 88.3

Posted on:February 13, 2019

ALL DAY TODAY KSDS will be celebrating a different kind of President. Join us as we salute the "PREZ," Lester Young. We will play his music throughout the day and feature rare recordings, clips, interviews and so much more. KSDS gets Prezidential- beginning at 6am. 

Kansas City Jazz- The Sunset Club

February 13, 2019- Today's Kansas City Jazz Topic: The Sunset Club

The Sunset Club was one of the legendary Kansas City nightspots and was located at 12th and Highland very close to the famous intersection of 12th St. and Vine. It opened in the fall of 1933 as the East Side Musicians Sunset Club.  It was also known as the Sunset Crystal Palace although there was nothing regal about it.

It was a long narrow room featuring a saloon up front and a gambling room in the back.  Beer was served in tall tin cans by the quart.  The cost was 15 cents. The club was owned by Felix Payne and managed by the popular Piney Brown.

The house band consisted of two pieces.  Pete Johnson on piano and Murl Johnson on drums. Pete’s left hand was so strong they didn’t need a bass player. The bartender was Big Joe Turner.  When the feeling hit him he would join Pete and Murl and start shouting the blues.  Felix Payne had installed a PA system for Big Joe’s use.  It was connected to a loudspeaker mounted outside the club above the door.  When Joe started shouting the blues it could be heard for blocks.   Crowds would hear Joe’s voice and flock to the club.  Joe referred to it as “calling my children home.”

Pete and Joe might start a blues which would sometimes go on for 75 choruses. Pete always had a full jigger of gin near the keyboard that he would sip on throughout the night.

Pete is immortalized in the song “Roll Em Pete.”

Piney Brown was a ladies man and gambler and a friend to all the musicians.  He took care of all the musicians by helping them however he could.  If they needed money for rent they could go to Piney. When musicians came to play they didn’t have to pay for anything.  Piney’s generosity insured there would be plenty of participants in the nightly jam sessions. Piney is immortalized by Joe Turner and His Fly Cats in the 1940 recording Piney Brown Blues:

“Yes I dreamed last night
I was standin' on 18th and vine
Yes I dreamed last night
I was standin' on 18th and vine
I shook hands with Piney Brown
An' I could hardly keep from cryin'"