Keystone Korner

Keystone Korner

Portrait of a Jazz Club
Kathy Sloane, photographs by Kathy Sloane, edited by Sascha Feinstein and Kathy Sloane
Distribution: Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, United Arab Emirates, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Australia, Bahamas, Bah
Publication date: 11/07/2011
Format: Paperback 109 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35691-8
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2011 ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards Gold Medal winner, Performing Arts category

During the 1970s, when jazz clubs all over America were folding under the onslaught of rock and roll and disco, San Francisco’s Keystone Korner was an oasis for jazz musicians and patrons. Tucked next to a police station in the city’s North Beach area, the Keystone became known as one of the most important jazz spots in the United States. It was so beloved by musicians that superstars McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, and Elvin Jones played a benefit concert just so the club could buy a liquor license. In this book, more than 100 black and white photographs, a collage of oral histories, and a marvelous CD of recordings from the club chronicle the Keystone experience.

Author Bio

Kathy Sloane has been a freelance photographer for 35 years and has exhibited her jazz images in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles. In New York, she exhibited together with bassist/photographer Milt Hinton. A portfolio of her work was featured in Jazz Times, and five of her images appeared in Ken Burns's PBS miniseries, Jazz.


“This book chronicles the history of one of the most important jazz clubs of the 1970s, its rise to fame, and its legendary mark on the San Francisco music community. More than 100 black and white photographs, a collage of oral histories, and a marvelous CD of recordings from the club chronicle the Keystone experience.”

“Kathy Sloane uses her photography in a way that brings people together rather than as an end in itself. That’s unique among photographers and might be her special gift. People trust their spirits with her and thus they allow her to see their beauty. She makes a record of that beauty in her photographs. That to me is holy work.”
 — Julius Lester, author and photographer

“The great success of Keystone Korner comes from the relationships between the waiters and bartenders, the musicians, the people who visit the club, the owners, and the managers. That success is evidenced by the intimate photographs and the memories captured in this book. In looking at these strikingly imaginative framed portraits, I can only imagine the sounds, the lighting and the emotions of the time. The text reads like ambient sound, which I believe makes this such a remarkable project. ”
 — Deborah Willis, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts

“Kathy Sloane’s book beautifully captures an important period in time reflecting local, and national cultural history. These images and interviews in Keystone Korner reflect a creative environment, and a rich musical heritage that might have been lost if not for Sloane’s passion and vision.”
 — Lewis Watts , author of Harlem of the West

“The book is a kaleidoscope of verbal and pictorial images by an articulate group of jazz players, club employees, and some who merely hung out for the listening. . . . Its raison d’etre is largely dependent on [Kathy Sloane's] striking images.”
 — Duncan Schiedt, author, jazz historian, and photographer

“. . . a welcome and much-needed addition to the documentation of jazz in America.”
 — Hank O'Neal, record producer, photographer, and author of The Ghosts of Harlem, among many other books

“Keystone Korner was the quintessential jazz club. With the down-home feeling of your favorite neighborhood watering hole and with the special spark of international artistic charisma that a knowledgeable jazz audience brings to any environment, the Keystone was a happy home to people of all persuasions.”
 — Wynton Marsalis

“A truly unique record of a unique jazz venue, in images and words. Kathy Sloane captures her subjects at just the right moment, her insights human as well as visual, illuminating the frank and vivid recollections of performers, staffers and patrons. Listen to the music as you view and read, and it's almost like being there, at one of the greatest jazz nightclubs there ever was.”
 — Dan Morgenstern, author of Living With Jazz

“Open Kathy Sloane's new book, Keystone Korner, and you can smell the cigarette smoke. Put on the accompanying CD, and you can hear Bill Evans or Stan Getz playing this cramped room in North Beach 30 or 40 years ago. October 10, 2011”
 — San Francisco Chronicle

“The intersection of Sloane's presence and the Keystone's reputation as a venue for both premier and up-and-coming musicians resulted in an extraordinary photographic record of many of jazz's leading lights in action. ”
 — Library Journal

“From the antics of the photo-laden backroom to the underground hype of Ora Harris' Keystone Kitchen, Sloane and fellow editor Sascha Feinstein leave no stone unturned. They examine the backstories of some of Keystone's most lovable characters . . . [Keystone Korner] is a delightful sensory overload definitive of the Keystone experience. ”
 — Downbeat

“Kathy Sloane's oral and pictorial history . . . is a treasure. ”
 — SF Weekly

“Jazz these days is different. The close-knit sense of community between the players and audience is rare, but Kathy Sloane's photographs preserve the spirit of Keystone. ”

“Oakland photographer Kathy Sloane has written a splendid history of the club, featuring interviews and more than 100 photographs of artists. . . . Keystone Korner closed in 1983, but Sloane's book re-creates it in vibrant detail. ”
 — Mercury News

“Keystone Korner is terrific as a window into a legendary jazz club in addition to serving as a coffee table book. It is a fabulos book that jazz lovers will treasure to enjoy the photographs and the story of a fabled room. ”
 — In a Blue Mood

“This book, on the basis of the text alone, merits a spot on the shelf alongside the classic oral jazz histories of Nat Hentoff and Studs Terkel. ”
 — All About Jazz

“An essential read for anyone who's ever stepped foot in a jazz club.”
 — Jazzwise Magazine

“[T]his fantastic book . . . chronicles the incredible years of Todd [Barkan's] ownership and management of the infamous Keystone Korner jazz club, dating from the early '70's to the early '80's, in San Francisco.”
 — and CabaretCorner

“Like the Keystone Korner itself, Sloane's book is a labor of love and a testament to a memorable time and place. If you were lucky enough to have been there, you can relive it; if you missed it, you can go back in time and live in the heart, art and soul of a San Francisco institution that epitomized the music and feeling of jazz. ”

“…[A] compelling book of photographs and oral-history interviews by Kathy Sloane...paints a vivid picture of the club and its social context in the post-hippie landscape of the Bay Area. What’s captured best in the recollections, and in Ms. Sloane’s atmospheric black-and-white photographs, is the warmth and informality of the place.”
 — New York Times

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Al Young
Preface: Keystone Legacy: Sascha Feinstein
The Story Tellers
Forward: Before There Was You
1. Todd’s Tune: Todd Barkan
2. Begin the Beguine
3. The Space is the Place
4. The Back Room
5. Ora’s Kitchen Ora Harris
6. Taking Care of Business
7. Rahsaan Roland Kirk
8. Teach Me Tonight
9. Bobby and Bags
10. Dexter Gordon
11. Compared to What?
12. East Side / West Side
13. Orrin Orates Orrin Keepnews
14. Bright Moments
15. Rifficials: Jack Hirschman
16. Then and Now
17. The End of Keystone
End Notes: My Years at Keystone Kathy Sloane
Keystone Korner Discography
Notes on CD Sascha Feinstein