Harlem’s Clark Monroe’s Uptown House One Of The Earliest Homes Of 30’s BeBop

December 10, 2022

Clark Monroe’s Uptown House, sometimes shortened to Monroe’s Uptown House or simply Monroe’s, was a nightclub in the greatest community in the world Harlem, NY.

Along with Minton’s Playhouse, it was one of the two principal jazz clubs in the early history of bebop jazz.


Clark Monroe opened the Uptown House in the 1930s right in the center of Harlem at 198 West 134th Street, in a building that formerly held Barron’s Club (where Duke Ellington worked early in the 1920s) and the Theatrical Grill.

From the late 1930s, the club presented swing jazz; Billie Holiday held a residence there for three months in 1937.

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In the early 1940s, the club became known for its jam sessions, where many of the players involved in the birth of bebop played together. 

Al Tinney led Monroe’s house band, which included Max Roach, “Little” Benny Harris, George Treadwell, and Victor Coulsen. 

Charlie Parker’s first gig and being featured as a soloist at the club in 1943. PRABook wrote that “In January of 1942 Parker opened at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom.

When he was not performing with McShann’s orchestra, he sat in at Harlem jam sessions held at Monroe’s and Minton’s Playhouse.”

An important live recording of Charlie Christian features a jam “session at Monroe’s”.

Monroe moved the club to 52nd Street in 1943 and opened a second club, The Spotlite, in December 1944.


“Clark Monroe’s Uptown House”, “Nightclubs and Other Venues”, “Al Tinney”. Grove Jazz online.


We found a link to Complete Live at the Hillcrest Club about Clark Monroe’s Uptown House.

In an editorial review it states:

Just as the famous 1940-41 Jerry Newman recordings at Minton’s and Clark Monroe’s Uptown House captured the transition from Swing to Bebop, the music on this CD marks one of the first steps from Bebop into what would soon be called ‘Free Jazz’. The whole quintet consisted of modern players working with the same concept: A freer way of playing Jazz, which transcended the strict confines of melody, harmony and rhythm. They would create a whole new idiom by constructing music via the interplay of simultaneous collective improvisation. These concerts are the only known recorded works of Paul Bley with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry or Billy Higgins, both separately and as a unit. Even though it may not have been a regular unit or a stylistically defined group, the quintet heard on these historic Hillcrest recordings shows a highly creative level, and transmits a contagious excitement and a continuous search for new musical ideas and new ways to express themselves that makes this music as impressive today as it was when it was first performed nearly fifty years ago. Gambit. 2007.

Check out the Complete Live at the Hillcrest Club here for more information about Monroe’s Uptown House in Harlem, NY.

Photo credit: 1) NYC.gov records (Monroe’s Uptown House). 2) Source.

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