The American West is not only historical in its cowboy roots, ( wagons, saddles, spurs, six-shooters, and cactus) but also as equally important in its jazz roots, ( trombones, trumpets, piano, and sax) harmonicas as diverse musically in those old black and white photos whether the music played was by the wranglers sitting around the campfire and bunkhouse situations or blues and jazz musicians playing on Welton Street in Five Points. The cowboys and the African-American jazz musicians had two things in common - they had a vision and they believed in miracles. The unlikely became a lucrative commonplace. What happened to cowboy poetry and African-American jazz is that it became so much a part of life and of history. They serve as a focal point for promoting the arts for diversity.
Five Points is the Harlem of the West, for its long jazz history. Five Points is one of the largest Denver neighborhoods.
Five Points was the first predominately African-American neigborhood in Denver, Colorado. It was home to over 50 bars and clubs in the Roaring '20s, 1930s, '40s, and '50s. Some of the greatest jazz musicians, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Satchmo, Nat King Cole, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Miles Davis played there.
Originating in the 1880s, Five Points was an upper-middle class community for professional business men. The first cable streetcar lines were laid in the area and African-American businesses emerged along the tracks. White residents initially lived in the area, but a few prosperous African-American families began moving into Five Points at the turn of the century. A major influx of black residents came in 1911 and 1929. The new homes had modern conveniences such as electricity, plumbing, and garages. Five Points soon became the focal point of jazz in a community at that time populated by some 6,000 African-Americans.
Five Points became one of the most prosperous black communities in the West. Today, many recognize Five Points important history. Efforts to renew and revitalize the neighborhood is paying off. Five Points has received an historic designation. The old buildings where the jazz musicians played along Welton Street have received state preservation monies for restoration. Two of these buildings, The Rossonian Hotel and Benny Hooper's Casino played major roles as venues for jazz musicians. Famous black musicians playing white venues had no where to stay other than Five Points. It became known famous for its after-hours jazz scene.
Black doctors, lawyers, dentists, clergy, railroad porters, cooks, janitors, domestic servants, and other service workers made their home in Five Points. They attended the black churches and patronized the black businesses. Five Points residents just wanted the opportunity to move into this neighborhood so they could move into higher economic brackets through education and jobs.
Every bit as important as the cowboy museums of the West, housing barbed wire, revolvers, and Old West memorabilia is The Black American West Museum (former home of Five Points beloved black doctor, Justina Ford) with a growing collection of memorabilia of the African-Americans in the West.
It has been an honor to submit this dedication to Five Points (Denver, Colorado) Jazz Mecca to Creative Thinkers International brought to you by Aberjhani, in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month.
And what an honor Sage Sweetwater to read this splendid essay on the brilliant mesh of diverse culture and history in the West that nurture the growth of such powerful American musical artforms. So many stories in your part of the country are screaming out to be told, which makes your own pen that much more valuable as a formidable modern literary resource--even if that same pen does make some sensibilities squirm every now and then :-)
Deep gratitude for the shared labor, knowledge, and wisdom.
Much gratitude to Author/Poet Sage Sweetwater forr this historical article, "Five Points (Denver, Colorado) Jazz Mecca". An important journalistic page that will stimulate many to follow on the subject dealt here.
Best rewards to your literary and artistic career.
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