Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Ed Williams' Oahu Isle of the Nameless Cafe, Chicago. The Famous Live Jazz Venue.

Ed Williams' Oahu Isle of the Nameless Cafe, 4753 W Madison Street (at Cicero Ave.), Chicago. 1945




So how did the Nameless Night Club become locally famous?

Artists and groups like Bernie Heller and his trio playing their first Mid-Western date at the Nameless Cafe. Joe Pranks and His Advocates of Swing moved to the Oahu Isle Room of the Nameless Cafe. Musicians like Eddie Wigens, Mancini Ore, Ona Mayo, Gwen Paul, Blarglo Strong, Evelyn Reed, Ed Leon, The Fioramanti Boys, and many more played at the Nameless Cafe. Then came George Barnes, who explored jazz with an electric guitar in the late thirties when he was about 16 years old. 
George Barnes - At home with friends in 1941

In the spring of 1941, 19-year-old guitarist George Barnes had already been a national radio star for almost two years and enjoyed jamming with his colleagues after they’d wrapped their respective NBC shows. 
17-year-old Guitarist George Barnes.



In March, June, and September of 1941, George’s friends — including violinist Benny Gill, rhythm guitarist Bill Huntington, and bassist Bill Moore — dropped by his Chicago apartment in The Chelsea Hotel at 920 W Wilson Avenue, in the “Heart of the Uptown District," and played into the wee hours. 
The Chelsea Hotel in the “Heart of the Uptown District"


Fifteen tracks were recorded directly to acetate discs by recordist Joe Campbell, who had been a Barnes fan since the first time he heard 17-year-old George play at Ed Williams’ Nameless Cafe on Chicago’s West Side.
George Barnes and the Jazz Renaissance Quintet
Bach Fugue in G Minor

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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