[JPL] The Doors on a Jazz Gift Shop Swing Closed

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Fri Jan 9 08:51:38 EST 2009


JANUARY 7, 2009, 11:05 AM

The Doors on a Jazz Gift Shop Swing Closed


Phil Schaap, the D.J. and historian, teaches jazz survey classes at the Jazz
at Lincoln Center¹s adult education program known as Swing University.

Just over two years ago, he rented from the center a small space in the
lobby¹s fifth floor near the entrance to the center¹s performance spots, and
he hired some of his more knowledgeable students to help run the shop and,
less formally, dispense information and recommendations and directions to
the center¹s guests.

³We basically became the information center here,² Mr. Schaap said at the
shop on Tuesday night ‹ which, as it turns out, was its last night of

The gift shop closed at midnight. Jazz at Lincoln Center officials would not
renew Mr. Schaap¹s lease, he said.

³If they loved it, I would have done it forever, but they didn¹t, and that¹s
O.K.,² he added.

The shop was open daily through the end of the last set at Dizzy¹s Club
Coca-Cola, in the center¹s Frederick P. Rose Hall, in the Time Warner Center
at Columbus Circle.

For decades, Mr. Schaap has been the host of ³Bird Flight,² a morning show
of Charlie Parker¹s music on WKCR-FM (89.9), the radio station of Columbia
University. In the past few days, he had repeatedly announced on the show
that the shop was closing. He said there would be discounts on merchandise,
and that he would be hanging around on Tuesday until the doors closed, to
talk jazz with any and all comers.

And on Tuesday, many people did show up for both offerings, including Walter
Blanding, a tenor saxophone player with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
who said, ³I heard it was closing and I just had to stop by.²

³What happened?² he said to Mr. Schaap, who taught him jazz history at the
New School, years ago. ³I¹m sorry to hear about this.²

Mr. Schaap had been hearing this kind of thing all day, as had Rose
Rutledge, 25, the store¹s manager.

At one point, a tall woman approached Ms. Rutledge and said in a thick Swiss
accent something that sounded like, ³Ees that Feel Shop?²

³Yes, that¹s Phil,² Ms. Rutledge said. The woman, Annemarie Wiesner, a
violinist and an avid WKCR listener, asked Mr. Schaap: ³Why are you closing?
It¹s so sad.²

³Jazz at Lincoln Center wants to do something else, I guess,² Mr. Schaap

Gail Beltrone, Jazz at Lincoln Center¹s vice-president of Frederick P. Rose
Hall, said that officials there were eager to see Mr. Schaap spend more time
as a teacher and curator at the center, and that the shop¹s closing was part
of a large-scale redesign of the open space on the fifth floor. The center
is planning to put up exhibits, create wi-fi networks for guests, and sell
jazz merchandise itself at other spots on the floor.

At least business was booming on this last day. Some of the more popular
selling items included ³The Story of Jazz,² by Marshall W. Stearns, and
³Congo Square,² a CD by Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center
orchestra. Autographed by Mr. Marsalis, it was selling for $53.

Now Ms. Rutledge was telling Mr. Schaap that some woman on the phone wanted
to buy 30 copies of Mr. Schaap¹s new book, ³Charlie Parker and Jazz Club
Memorabilia,² written with Norman R. Saks. The book, if autographed by both
Mr. Saks and Mr. Schaap, was selling for $75, ³and you can¹t get it anywhere
else,² noted Mr. Schaap, who then took the phone from Ms. Rutledge and told
her, ³Go get your name in The New York Times.²

Some of the most costly items were prints of jazz artists autographed by
legends, collected by Mr. Schaap over the years. One of them, priced to sell
at $4,000, was signed by Milt Hinton, Chico Hamilton, Wynton Marsalis,
Lionel Hampton, Roy Haynes and others. Then there were the mounted and
framed 78-r.p.m. records ‹ ³Santa Claus Blues,² by Louis Armstrong, ³Night
and Day,² by Erroll Garner, and others ‹ from Mr. Schaap¹s collection,
autographed by Mr. Marsalis and selling variously for several hundred
dollars apiece.

Hashem Sharif, of Tinton Falls, N.J., walked into the shop and also asked
for Mr. Schaap.

³I listen to his program religiously every day,² Mr. Sharif said. ³This man
is a national treasure. I heard it was the last day for the shop and I had
to come.²

Mr. Sharif bought Mr. Schaap¹s book and asked him to sign it, which Mr.
Schaap did, with the inscription ³Bird Lives.² Mr. Sharif then sought Mr.
Schaap¹s assessment of the CDs he had selected. Mr. Schaap approved of his
choices, especially of a Count Basie CD.

³This was his last album while he was alive ‹ it¹s very important,² Mr.
Schaap said.

Mr. Schaap said the shop was a place where his jazz students gathered, and
had a knowledgeable staff, including a student of his, ³who knows more about
the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra than anyone in the world under age 40.²

He spoke highly of Ms. Rutledge, who put much of her jazz study on hold as
she ran the shop. She is a saxophonist with a master¹s degree in jazz
studies and who now studies independently with Mr. Schaap and aspires to be
a working musician. Now that the store was closing, she could at least put
more time into that, she said.

Mr. Sharif remarked that it was a challenging career choice, but Ms.
Rutledge said she was ready to pay her dues. After all, she noted, even
Charlie Parker got kicked off the bandstand in his early years.

³I guess I¹ll go get kicked off some bandstands,² she said.

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