Lenox Lounge to get its famed Art Deco furnishings back



A Manhattan Supreme Court judge recently ordered that the jazz mecca’s colorful interior furnishings and fixtures, including the striped walls of its legendary Zebra Room, be returned to Ricky Edmonds, landlord of its home at 286 Lenox Ave., sources said.

 Edmonds last year leased the venue between 124th-125th streets to Notar, the former Nobu managing partner who now runs Midtown hot spot Harlow.

Notar planned to revitalize Lenox Lounge, where jazz greats including Billie Holliday, Miles Davis and John Coltrane once performed — but which had fallen on harder times recently.

But in the early morning of Jan. 1, moving men disguised as cops barged in and hauled everything out, leaving the place “completely stripped and bare,” according to a $50 million lawsuit Edmonds filed against former Lenox Lounge operator Alvin Reed.

Reed had run the place for 30 years but said he couldn’t afford a rent increase from $10,000 to $20,000 a month. The businessman, who owns the lounge’s famous name, plans to open a new Lenox Lounge a few blocks north at 333 Lenox Ave. — but it will not include any of the original fixtures.

Notar, who was not a party to the suit, reportedly planned to call his place Notar’s Jazz Club. But by any name it would have lost much of its mystique without the old interior and parts of the façade.



“It’s been returned to its rightful home,” said Walker Malloy real estate broker Rafe Evans, who represented Edmonds in the lease to Notar. Some of the contents are in a warehouse and some back inside the Lounge site, sources said.

It was unclear how Notar would use the vintage elements in his new place. He recently filed with the Buildings Dept. for interior work but was traveling today and could not be reached.

Messages left for Reed and Edmonds were not returned. The answering machine at the office of Reed’s lawyer, Tyreta Foster, was full and could accept no more messages.



Dreams of a Harlem Jazz Rebirth

31JAZZ4_SPAN-articleLargeAs another evening falls, the Lenox Lounge sits dim and lonely. Commuters pour out of the 125th Street subway station and onto Lenox Avenue, past its padlocked door. At Ginny’s Supper Club across the street, a mostly black crowd of men in suits and women in heels sips and sways as a band turns out a haunting rendition of John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things.”

It is said that Coltrane once blew his sax at the Lenox Lounge, which kept regulars, downtowners and tourists coming back for 70 years, even through the neighborhood’s bleak times. Now, with Harlem resurgent, only its remains are on display: its Art Deco finishes, familiar red paneling and famous sign have all been stripped away. Continue reading

Forty years after his death, an Uptown tribute to ‘60s jazz trumpet great Lee Morgan

Harlem’s Shrine of the Masters Jazz Gallery will hold an afternoon of music in honor of the famed jazz trumpeter

Lee Morgan blazed through the 60’s jazz world like musical wildfire.

Lena Sherrod, executive director of the Shrine of the Masters Jazz Gallery in Harlem, has compiled a massive collection of the recordings and history of jazz trumpet great Lee Morgan.

Mentored by Clifford Brown, Morgan was 18 years old when he joined Dizzy Gillespie’s big band in 1956. A top trumpet player, Morgan worked and recorded with the jazz elite; Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, Jackie McLean, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Lonnie Liston Smith, Elvin Jones, and Clifford Jordan to name just a few.

Morgan’s 1963 hit, “The Sidewinder” crossed over into the pop charts the following year, and his “Search for the New Land” album, recorded in 1964 and released two years later, proved another commercial success.

Eight prolific years later Morgan was gone, shot to death by his girlfriend on Feb. 19, 1972 during intermission of a set he was playing at Slugs, an East Village jazz spot.

Morgan was 33 years old.

On Sunday, Feb. 19, Morgan’s friends, family and admirers will gather at Harlem’s Shrine of the Masters Jazz Gallery for an afternoon of music in his honor.

SOM Gallery is the home of a permanent collection devoted to Morgan’s life and career.

The invitation-only event will also include a tribute to jazz promoter and Jazzmobile music contractor Jim Harrison, whose clients over the years have included the late Art Blakey and Betty Carter.

“I’m very grateful to them (SOM) for doing this,” said Harrison, who said he promoted his first concert, a 1961 gig at Judson Hall, simply to hear saxophonist Jackie McLean play. “It’s a blessing. My family is going to be there. It’s one of my grandchildren’s birthday.”

Lena Sherrod, former finance and careers editor for Essence Magazine, founded SOM in 2006 and created the Lee Morgan exhibit, which includes 125 of the albums Morgan either recorded or played on as well as numerous pictures of his career.

She was also a Morgan friend.

“I used to do jazz production a long time ago,” which was how they met, Sherrod said. “I was out of the country when he died and a few years after I got back I decided to write a book about him.

“I met Lee when he was about 29,” Sherrod said. “We met at the Blue Coronet in Brooklyn. He was funny and smart. He was a good guy.”

It was while researching the book that Sherrod eventually went online and “started seeing all these albums he had out that I had never heard of” that she decided to create the museum in a space she was renovating.

“I went on eBay and found Lee Morgan albums selling for over $1,000,” she said. “Most of these album covers I found online, and almost 50 percent of them came from overseas.”

Sherrod said Harrison deserved a salute because “he’s been out there toiling in the jazz vineyard for eons.”

SOM viewing hours are by appointment only. Call 212-368-9588 or email Sherrod at SOMJazzGallery@aol.com.


Harlem’s Lenox Lounge Is Marcus Samuelsson Eying It?

The Lenox Lounge, a 62 year-old Harlem icon and old jazz favorite that once hosted musicians including Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane and literary stars like James Baldwin and Langston Hughes, is going on the market in February. AndDNA Info hears that all kinds of Harlem restaurateurs with an eye for expansion—including Red Rooster’s Marcus Samuelsson—are eying the spot. Lawrence Page, the owner of the Pink Tea Cup and the soon to open Harlem wine bar Auberge Laurent said of the space, “I want it to be my next space and compete against Marcus Samuelsson. I want to keep the name and the flavor but have a mixologist there creating more than 100 fantastic drinks.”

The combined 3,285 square foot restaurant and lounge space, which was restored to its original glory a decade ago, will go on the market for $29,5125 a month.