In the 1940s and early 1950s, a stretch of Central Avenue in Los Angeles was prime jazz territory. Hampton Hawes, Eric Dolphy, Don Cherry, Vi Redd and Billy Higgins learned and developed in clubs and jam sessions there, alongside veterans including Dexter Gordon, Roy Porter, Charles Mingus and Jack McVea. In recent years, fortunes along Central have declined, but help is on the way. A story by Jean Merl in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times gives details.
Nearly half a century has passed since Central Avenue slipped out of the limelight as the jazz mecca and heart of African American Los Angeles.
Long gone are the bustling eateries, shops and nightspots that had lined the once-vibrant street, then known to locals as simply “the Avenue.”
The famed Dunbar Hotel, which was host to such musical greats as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Lena Horne in the 1930s and ’40s, currently houses low-income residents and social service agencies.
The neighborhood now is predominantly Latino and poor, with careworn storefronts, most sporting signs in Spanish.
But city officials hope to recapture some of the Avenue’s past glory with a $500,000 revitalization plan approved by the Community Redevelopment Agency.
To read the whole thing, go here.