Supporters of live jazz are being urged to chip in to save Birdland, one of the world’s most well-known jazz clubs, from closing for good.
For decades, the legendary venue has been a fixture in the jazz community and has become one of New York’s hottest tourist destinations. Since it was founded in 1949, the club has hosted many of the biggest names in jazz. A number of artists made recordings there, including Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Lester Young.
Now, Birdland is at risk of closing after months of being unable to operate due to COVID-19 health restrictions. The club has launched a GoFundMe campaign in hopes of raising $250,000.
“Like many other independently owned small businesses, Birdland is in desperate need of capital to dig out of the debt caused by the pandemic,” producer and activist Tom D’Angora wrote on behalf of the club’s owner, Gianni Valenti. “If we hit our fundraising goal, not only will it get Birdland out of the debt caused by the pandemic, but it will allow the venue to weather the rest of this storm and Birdland can remain ‘the jazz corner of the world.'”
It’s not the first time Birdland has been threatened by financial problems. The venue filed for bankruptcy in 1964 and closed the following year. It wasn’t until 1985 that it was resurrected at a new location on the Upper West Side, before finally landing at its current location in Midtown Manhattan in 1996.
Some of the notable performers to have performed at the new Birdland include Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, Lee Konitz, Diana Krall, Dave Holland, Regina Carter and Tito Puente.
Birdland’s legacy has endured not only due to its iconic status in New York’s jazz scene, but also because of a number of references to the venue in pop culture works such as Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, George Shearing’s standard Lullaby of Birdland, Weather Report’s hit Birdland, U2’s song Angel of Harlem, and the Sesame Street nightclub of the same name.
Click here to visit the “Save Birdland” fundraiser.