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Set against the drama of the Great Depression, the conflict of American race relations, and the inquisitions of the House Un-American Activities Committee, Cafe Society tells the personal history of Barney Josephson, proprietor of the legendary interracial New York City night clubs Cafe Society Downtown and Cafe Society Uptown and their successor, The Cookery. Famously known as the wrong place for the Right people, Cafe Society featured the cream of jazz and blues performers--among whom were Billie Holiday, boogie-woogie pianists, Big Joe Turner, Lester Young, Buck Clayton, Big Sid Catlett, and Mary Lou Williams--as well as comedy stars Imogene Coca, Zero Mostel, and Jack Gilford, and also gospel and folk singers. A trailblazer in many ways, Josephson welcomed black and white artists alike to perform for mixed audiences in a venue whose walls were festooned with artistic and satiric murals lampooning what was then called high society.
Featuring scores of photographs that illustrate the vibrant cast of characters in Josephson's life, this exceptional book speaks richly about Cafe Society's revolutionary innovations and creativity, inspired by the vision of one remarkable man.