New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Hippest Place on Earth
Five Spot Jazz Club
— 5 Cooper Sq. —
You are standing at the former site of the Five Spot Café, which in the 1950s and ‘60s was owned and operated by brothers Joe and Iggy Termini, who brought in the era’s most progressive jazz artists, including Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, Randy Weston and John Coltrane.
Some of Billie Holiday’s last performances took place here. Because the authorities had seized her cabaret card, the engagements could not be publicized, but the club filled up by word of mouth alone.
In 1959, saxophonist Ornette Coleman’s Five Spot debut introduced free improvisation to mainstream jazz discourse. Although composer Leonard Bernstein visited one night and loudly declared it “the greatest thing that has ever happened in jazz,” Colman’s music remains controversial to this day.
THE New York destination for bohemians and visiting intelligentsia, Five Spot regulars included painter Robert Rauschenberg, poets Ted Joans and Amiri Baraka, and novelists Jack Kerouac and James Baldwin. During the club’s existence, whether as listeners or as performers, the most adventurous artists of the time came
In 1963, the club moved to Two St. Mark’s Place and Cooper Square, where it lasted until the early 1970’s.
- David Neil Lee, author, The Battle of the Five Spot
Erected 2016 by Bowery Alliance of Neighbors.
Location. 40° 43.646′ N, 73° 59.479′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker is on Cooper Square/Bowery near East 4th & East 5th Streets, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5 Cooper Square, New York NY 10003, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 27 Cooper Sq. (a few steps from this marker); Vauxhall Gardens (within shouting distance of this marker); 27 Cooper Square (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Merchants House of New York (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) (about 400 feet away); Firehouse Engine Company No. 33 (about 500 feet away); De Vinne Press Building (about 500 feet away); The Fillmore East Theater (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
More about this marker. One of more than sixty entries in the “Windows on the Bowery” series.
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music •
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Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2019. This page originally submitted on April 12, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 42 times since then. Last updated on April 17, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on April 12, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. 7. submitted on April 14, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.