The Troy Street Observer

Sep 10, 1967: Hines, Byard, and Corea at Lennie’s

The original Lennie’s-on-the-Turnpike burned in the early morning on May 30, 1971, some hours after Earl Hines finished his last set and Lennie locked up for the night. The little roadhouse on Route 1 in West Peabody was a total loss.

Proprietor Lennie Sogoloff vowed to reopen, and three months later he did, at the Village Green, a club in a hotel a bit further north on Route 1, in Danvers. Lennie told me that Buddy Rich promised to be there when the place reopened, and he was, staying for two weeks. Lennie’s had a good autumn season in 1971, but the Village Green location just wasn’t the same as the roadhouse. To draw crowds in 1972, Sogoloff booked less jazz and more of everything else, including pop, comedy, and rock. It all wore him out, and after running a club for 21 years, the last ten of which featured live music, Sogoloff closed the doors in September 1972. (There’s a fine, if too short, interview with Sogoloff here.)

Lennie's schedule, Sep 10, 1967
Piano Workshop at Lennie’s, Sep 10, 1967

Back in September 1967, before the fire and the move, Lennie had another of his single-session workshops, this one for piano players. The other workshops were logistically easier. Three guitar players? No problem. Three drummers, as for the Gretsch Drum Nights? A little tight, but Lennie did it three times. But how would Lennie present the three pianists Jaki Byard, Chick Corea, and Earl Hines on the afternoon of September 10?

Hines took the stage first, playing what Down Beat called “an entertaining and instructive capsule history of jazz piano,” which would be an important document if Hines recorded it. Then Byard took over, playing snatches of everything from Debussy to Tatum to Shearing. Then Byard moved over to an upright (apparently Lennie had an upright stashed for just such an occasion) and turned the grand over to Chick Corea, and the two played duets on standards including “Green Dolphin Street.” Then Corea played a set with bassist John Neves and drummer Alan Dawson.

The Hines Quartet was completing two weeks at Lennie’s (their next stop was the Monterey festival), and perhaps Hines played with Bill Pemberton and Oliver Jackson, the bassist and drummer in his quartet, while Jaki and Chick played with Alan Dawson and John Neves. Later that night, when Hines played his regular sets, Paul Gonsalves dropped by to sit in on “Body and Soul” and “Satin Doll.” There were always surprises in store at Lennie’s.

The duet approach was nothing new for Hines and Byard, shown in this video playing together in Berlin in 1965, with “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.” Talk about simpatico! That’s Dawson on the drums, of course.

 

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One response to “Sep 10, 1967: Hines, Byard, and Corea at Lennie’s”

  1. My first taste of live jazz was Gretsch Drum night at Lennie’s, probably 1966. Elvin Jones, Alan Dawson and Philly Joe Jones. I think the house band had Paul Fontaine on trumpet and Jimmy Mosher on sax. I was under age and went with my folks. I later became friends with Lennie. The coffee table in my living room is made from the grand piano top that was burned in the 1971 fire. Lots of great ghosts!

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