Cotton Club The harlem renaissance

A version of the Cotton Club logo

Corner Pocket, performed by the Count Basie Swing Orchestra (and currently by the PB jazz band), contains many improvised solos. The solos are very long, so just watch a minute or two of the video.

The Cotton Club was a symbol of the Harlem Renaissance in the "Roaring 20s". The segregated club was open for the rich and the white, and was ideal for flappers, who would come to enjoy watching performances by black musicians and dancers.

The club's best performer

“Take the A Train” is one of Duke Ellington’s most famous songs. When he first started to perform, his band consisted of six members. By the time he played at the Cotton Club, it had grown to ten musicians.

Out of the many performers at the club, pianist Duke Ellington was the biggest figure the society had. He was part of a jazz band that grew to ten members. People of every race and gender enjoyed his jazz music at the club. In his career, Ellington moved on to win twelve Grammy awards and performed in Broadway Clubs. The Cotton Club was also home to Louis Armstrong, a famous trumpeter and Count Basie, a famous pianist. Not only were these artists well-known, but they were also well-respected for their talent.

The menu of The Cotton Club, representing the diversity that was starting to spread

The Cotton Club was a place where white men would come together and enjoy watching the talented black artists perform. The club represented the barriers of race starting to break down. Stereotypes about African Americans were proven wrong to the world in this time. However, the well-known black poet Langston Hughes criticized the club being "a Jim Crow club for gangsters and monied whites." Some of the audience felt that the club represented a plantation; the black men working for the white men. Those who supported Prohibition looked down at the club, which had its own formula for beer that was loved by non-Prohibition supporters.

A Cotton Club flyer

While the Cotton Club does not exist today, many jazz clubs in New York City continue its rich legacy of music and culture. In addition, modern jazz artists cite Duke Ellington and Count Basie (amongst others) as some of their most significant influences.

Dancers at the Cotton Club

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