Slugs’ in the Ear East: Jan 3 - Feb. 5
New York: Slugs’, . Offset. 5 ½ x 8 ½ in; framed to 8 x 11 ½ in. Near fine. Item #6748
Flyer promoting a month of shows at Slugs’, with performances by the respective quartets and quintets of Kenny Burrell, Philly Joe Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Yusef Lateef, and a workshop led by Grachan Moncur III.
Opening in the mid-1960s at 242 East 3rd St between Avenues B and C, Slugs’ was a influential early free jazz club run by Jerry Schultz and Robert Schoenholt. Though originally dubbed “Slugs’ Saloon,” New York regulations forbid any nominal “saloons” and it was thus rechristened “Slugs in the far east,” situated, as it was, outside the district of more reputable Lower East Side venues. The bar was at first strictly of the jukebox and fifty cent beer variety until Jackie McLean hosted a packed concert and split the take with the club. More shows followed, and Slugs’ became almost immediately a home for avant-garde jazz.
Slugs’ mythos was propelled by its distinctly underground and sordid features. The beer was cheap, the bartenders mean, vomit crusted the floors (with the owners often opting to cover it with a blanket than clean it up), musicians hung around and relaxed, then occasionally performed in weekly shows that would often rotate between the musicians on stage and those who happened to be in the audience. Regular performers included Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, and Sun Ra; whereas visitors counted Salvador Dali (who brought a candle to deal with the dim-lighting, looked at some paintings, and left), Bob Thompson, Paul H. Brown, Larry Rivers, and other musicians such as Archie Shepp and Miles Davis, in search of new musicians, and Art Blakey, who hosted weekly jam sessions.
By 1972, the owners and bartenders were burnt out, the rent had gone up, and regular performer Lee Morgan was shot to death inside the venue by his common-law wife, Helen Moore. The club closed closed its doors soon after.