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Documentary Will Spotlight 1369 Club

By Katherine E. Bliss

On any night of the week, 1369 Cambridge St. is filled with smoke and jazz lovers, listening intently to the strains of a saxophone or the intense beat of a drum solo.

For five years, 1369 Jazz Club has been home to some of the top local and national jazz artists and a loyal and knowledgeable crowd. A court decision means that the club will be leaving its spot later this month and the owners are hoping to find a new location nearby. But whatever the outcome of search for a new spot, the 1369 Jazz Club will be remembered if members of Boston's Cine Research have their way.

The group is in the process of filming as a documentary about the history of the club to honor the bar's love of jazz and seeming lack of concern for the more material side of running a business.

"I was a regular there for a while," said Richard Broadman, who will be writing the script and editing the film. "And I was always impressed. Their primary concern has never been money. And you can't say that about many clubs in the Boston area."

"There's not a whole lot of the radical 1960s and 1970s thinking going on anymore. But the owners of 1369 want the classic avant-garde jazz," Broadman said. "And the irony of it all is that just as they were beginning to become successful with that, it's being taken away."

Broadman said that he and John Bishop, who is the director for the film, have been working with owners of the 1369 Jazz Club to portray the culture of jazz as it is reflected in the Cambridge night spot.

The documentary will feature live performances by unknown musicians as well as by more famous artists such as Archie Shepp, Mel Lewis, Joanne Brackeen and Steve Lacy as they appeared at the club.

"The film has a lot of performance interviews and then a subplot which covers the history of the club from its establishment through its ending. We want to look at jazz through the world of 1369," Broadman said.

Jay Hoffman, one of the club's owners, said the film will show 1369 Jazz Club as "the Jazz Spot" in the area.

"There are so many places of culture closing now," he said. "There was the Inman Square Men's Bar, which was really important for jazz and blues. But they had to try to relocate, and there was not much neighborhood support, so now they're gone. Not many of the original jazz areas are still around."

Broadman said that the bar's population, it's musical variety, and its warm atmosphere help it typify what jazz is.

"There are not too many places in Boston where the population is really mixed," said Broadman. "But the jazz population has always been one of the most mixed. And 1369 was one of the only places around here that I went where the world of jazz was really there."

He also said that the club's Sunday and Monday night free-for-all sessions are what jazz is all about.

"It's at the Monday night sessions when random musicians get up with other musicians and form a band and jam for awhile," Broadman said. "That brings in a lot of other musicians and generates a lot of ideas and change. There's a lot of talk there, and that gets jazz going. It's always changing.

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