Rick Gee’s Jazz Jam – The Manhattan Casino Before & After
Concert Date: 11/13/2009
@The Mahaffey Theatre Bayview Room
CASINO/22nd STREET SOUTH
WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT!
Situated at 642 22nd Street, South there lays a soulless, characterless, nondescript building approximately two-thirds of a mile southwest of Tropicana Field. Known as the Manhattan Casino, it was in this building, many years ago that high schools, fraternities & sororities, churches, women’s groups and service clubs held many of their meetings and social functions. On many nights, the oak floor upstairs was filled with people dancing to the music of live bands (Home of Happy Feet), which regularly included some of the greatest names in modern musical history. According to city records, the Manhattan Casino was built in 1925 by Elder Jordan, a black man of some means. Jordan Elementary School and the Jordan Park public housing neighborhood were named in his honor.
For many years, during St. Petersburg’s segregation era,
22nd Street South
was where people of color could shop, conduct business and socialize without fear of reprisal. While white residents of the city had a choice of leisure activities and a choice of places to conduct them in, the Manhattan Casino and later a movie theater (Royal Theater – now Boys & Girls Club) were the only places in the black neighborhood to do much of anything. In 1994, recognizing the building’s cultural significance, the City Council designated the Manhattan Casino building as a local landmark.
In its heyday, the Manhattan Casino attracted internationally famous musicians like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Clyde McPhattter, Fats Waller and Earl Fatha Hines. All the big names played on
at the Manhattan Casino. Many of the groups that performed there would hire members of the Manhattan Casino’s house bands. During its existence, there were three major house bands, and today there are several surviving members of those bands. We have been able to locate three surviving members of the house bands: Sylvester Manning, alto sax, Al Williams, valve trombone, and Joe Davis, baritone sax. Although they played in different house bands, they have agreed to perform together for the very first time, on November 13, 2009.
Rick Gee’s Jazz Jamm, Inc. and Dr. Robert D. Rehnke are proud to present “Before and After” featuring three of the surviving band members in concert, along with up and coming 15-year old tenor saxophone player, Jordan Richardson. Join us, at the BAYVIEW ROOM, Mahaffey Theater as the old-timers “Pass the Torch” to the young lion.
This promises to be an event to be remembered!