Left Bank Jazz Society
The Left Bank Jazz Society was a Baltimore, Maryland-based organization that promoted jazz in Baltimore. It formed in 1964, hosting a series of concerts featuring nationally acclaimed performers like John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. Tapes from these recordings were tied up in legal disputes and not officially released until 2000.
Left Bank was founded by Vernon L. Welsh (10 February 1919 – 8 August 2002 Baltimore, Maryland) and Benny Kearse (16 March 1930 Allendale, South Carolina – 29 June 1999 Baltimore, Maryland). Welsh recorded more than 800 jazz performances at the Famous Ballroom during the 1960s and 1970s. The tapes recorded by Welsh had been stored at the Morgan State University library for years. Veteran record producer Joel Dorn of the Label M record company, who acquired the tapes, has begun reissuing them and they have found favor with critics and jazz aficionados.
For seven years, Kearse was president of the group, which sponsored 47 concerts a season at its peak. The Left Bank's first gig was held at the Al-Ho Club, in the 2500 block of Frederick Ave., the year it was founded. After three moves, the society established a long run at the Famous Ballroom in 1967. Portions of Robert Mugge's 1980 documentary, Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise, were shot at the Famous Ballroom during the Left Bank's residency there. The hall is the site of the expanded Charles Theatre.
As producer and live performance venue
- "Jam Gems: Live at the Left Bank", Freddie Hubbard and Jimmy Heath, Label M (1965)
- The Free Slave, Roy Brooks (1970)
- Left Bank Encores, Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons (1973)
- Schoettler, Carl (December 8, 2002). "Where Jazz Still Echoes". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- Zajac, Mary K. (September–October 2007). "Jazz Sings the Blues". Style Magazine; Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 13, 2008.
- Bird, Christiane (2001). The Da Capo Jazz and Blues Lover's Guide to the U.S. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0306810344.
- "Vernon L. Welsh, 83, veteran, co-founder of Left Bank Jazz Society," by Frederick N. Rasmussen (born 1947), Baltimore Sun, August 12, 2002
- "Back Story: Concerts of Note Held by Left Bank Jazz Society," by Frederick N. Rasmussen (born 1947), Baltimore Sun, September 12, 2013
- "Benny Kearse 67, jazz society founder who helped stage Sunday night concerts," by Jacques S. Kelly (born 1950), Baltimore Sun, July 3, 1999
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