Lennie Sogoloff Still Presents

For a couple of weeks, I’ve been waiting for permission to post photographs from the collection that Lennie Sogoloff donated to Salem State University in Massachusetts. Sogoloff was the proprietor of Lennie’s On the Turnpike, a club north of Boston that presented jazz, comics and cabaret from 1951 to 1972. In that era, it was not unusual for artists to appear in clubs for a week, two weeks or longer, not the one- or two-night gigs customary in the 21st century. The range of performers that Sogoloff hired was remarkable. It ran from budding humorists and singers (among them Jay Leno and Bette Midler) to established jazz artists, including Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Earl Hines, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. Among the recordings From Lennie’s was Jaki Byard’s Live!, a masterpiece that—for no apparent good reason—has gone out of print and become a bizarrely overpriced collectors item. Maybe Concord Records can explain why. In the 1963 photograph above, Sogoloff is introducing trumpeter Joe Newman. Five years ago, he turned over his archive of photographs and other memorabilia to Salem State U., which has posted many of the pictures on the web.

Thanks to the university archivist, Susan Edwards, for permission to show you a few of Sogoloff’s, and his customers’, memories.

Woody Herman and Sal Nistico

Clark Terry and Bob Brookmeyer

Jon Hendricks

Jim Hall, Art Farmer, Steve Swallow, Walter Perkins

To see the entire Sogoloff collection of 118 photographs, go here.

Coincidentally, as we were about to post this item, Alan Broadbent alerted the Rifftides staff to a video clip of Sogoloff in 2011. The pianist remembers Lennie’s as “the great club where I heard Miles with Herbie and Wayne in 1966 or so.”

The irrepressible Lennie is still presenting artists he loves and respects, but in rather different circumstances, at the Devereux Nursing Home in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Listen to what he says when his interviewer asks him about jazz “acts”——words to remember.


If you’d like to hear Mike Palter and Lynne Jackson perform a song with words by Palter and music by Alan Broadbent, go here.

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  1. Jon Foley says

    Doug – Nice to see tribute paid to Lennie Sogoloff and his great club, Lennie’s On The Turnpike. For me, Lennie’s was one of the three greatest jazz clubs in the country, along with NYC’s Half Note and San Francisco’s Black Hawk.

    Many people probably don’t know that the musical portions of Tom Reichman’s documentary, “Mingus” (now known as “Mingus In Greenwich Village” for some reason) were filmed at Lennie’s in 1968. Because I was present for that filming, I happen to know that hours of great music was filmed which has never been seen. I’ve tried, without success, to find out what happened to that footage. The director, Tom Reichman, died while still a young man; maybe his estate owns it. I wrote to Sue Mingus a few years ago about it, but never got a response.

    That music deserves to be put out on DVD; as great an artist as Mingus was, there’s still precious little of him on video. Mingus at Lennie’s deserves to be seen in its entirety.

    • Karen Gilman says

      Thank you for the kind words. I remember vividly Tom lying on his back photographing the musicians.

      (via Karen Gilman, his daughter)

      Dad would love to discuss this.

      • Jon Foley says

        Ms. Gilman: What an unexpected and pleasant surprise to see a comment from your dad here, courtesy of you. I think I speak for Doug and everyone who’s posted here that we’d love to read some more from him – either through you, or if he has access to a computer where he’s living now. If anyone would have a million interesting stories to tell, it’s Lennie.

        I spent many happy hours at Lennie’s during the 60s and even after the fire, when it moved up the road to the hotel. It was always such a pleasure to get to the club and see Lennie and big Joe Baptista at the door, then to go in and have a cold beer and one of those great roast beef sandwiches while listening to Ellington or Basie or Mingus, or one of the great Boston groups. And your father’s introductions and commentary between sets were as entertaining as the music!

        Please pass along my greetings to your dad, and my thanks for the countless hours of pleasure he provided all of us. I look forward to hearing more from him.

  2. John Birchard says

    Lennie’s video is inspiring, especially to those of us who also have Parkinson’s. I take heart in his words about the disease not stopping him, only slowing him down. I was privileged to spend an evening at Lennie’s on the Turnpike once. The group on the stand that night has disappeared into the fog of imperfect memory, but I do recall that the drummer was Alan Dawson, which says something about his enormous talent. For some reason, I want to say the band was Herb Pomeroy’s, but I can’t be sure. This senior moment was brought to you by…

    John Birchard

  3. Rick Simpson says

    I’m Rick Simpson, Doug. I’m in English at St. Bonaventure U in western New York, and I do a jazz show on the student station here. I’ve been seeing your work for years–thanks!–and am very glad to know about the blog. News of it came via Steve Schwartz on the Jazzweek programmers’ list. Beautiful item on Lennie Sogoloff. I was a West Coast kid and never got to Lennie’s on the Turnpike, I’m sad to say, but the pictures are wonderful. Thanks so much to you and others who have been making them available. All good wishes–Rick

  4. says

    Hi Doug;
    Thank you so much for posting this piece about Lennie. In my 7 years with the Shearing Quintet we played Lennie’s at least once a year and I can say unequivocally that it was the BEST club for jazz in America. Lennie was truly sent from heaven as the most knowledgable and caring club owner that ever existed. I couldn’t wait to get there every year.I sincerely doubt whether there will ever be another like him or anything close to Lennie’s On The Turnpike. The first time I played there was in the fall of 67′ and the Boston Red Sox were chasing the American League pennant and the city was very alive. Lennie not only knew everything about jazz but he was also very sharp about baseball and I really loved hanging out with him . The band at that time was myself, Joe Pass, Bob Whitlock and Coliin Bailey along with George. We came in a day early from Buffalo and there were no rooms available for us so Lennie personally scoured the area and took care of us. As I said earlier, there just was no one like him. Playing there made for some of my very fondest memories. It was like what you dreamed about when you set out to get into this and so rarely happened. He was the greatest and apparently, thank God, still is.
    Charlie Shoemake

  5. Valerie Bishop says

    lovely piece on Lennie. wish it had gone on for much longer. he has so much to share but i’m grateful for this clip.

      • Valerie Bishop says

        that was delightful! i can’t believe i never experienced Lennie’s club but my parents certainly did. i left Boston before i learned to drive which was a hindrance to getting on the Turnpike! i wonder if my accent still sounds like Lennie’s or George Wein’s?!? LOL

        thanks so much Jon and Doug!

  6. says

    When I first saw these photographs on Flickr, I knew that they would be welcome to all and evoke a lot of memories.

    Thank you Doug and Susan for keeping this treasure trove of images in the public eye.

    • says

      And thanks to you Tom for getting the word out.

      We do have a longer interview with Lennie that we’re working on getting online. There will be more photos up – I’m trying to get them all scanned before the holiday break. We will also have some students working on online exhibits in the spring – I’ll keep you all posted with links. It’s great to hear all your recollections.

      Susan from Salem State University Archives and Special Collections

      • says

        Great stuff! Thanks, Doug, Lennie and everyone posting. In addition to the video footage of Lennie discussed here, I participated in a project along with Paul Engle and Fred Bouchard (Berklee project). A film crew from Berklee videotaped Fred interviewing Lennie, Fred Taylor (Pauls Mall, Jazz Workshop, Scullers) and vocalist Rebecca Parris regarding the jazz scene in Boston. I’d think that it might only be available at Berklee, but hopefully, someday accessible on line. When Lennie was honored at Salem State University, many of Boston’s jazz folks participated in an afternoon called “From Monk to Midler,” which was also about Lennie and Lennie’s on the Turnpike. Perhaps Lennie (and/or Susan) could elaborate via his daughter.