LaSalle Cafeteria and Jazz History Part 3
Here is the last story in our three-part series on Lasalle Cafeteria and Jazz History.
We have been looking at jazz culinary landmarks in New York City using the oral histories David Carp collected during his years hosting a Latin Jazz radio show. Carp donated several boxes of transcribed oral histories of many of the biggest names in Latin Jazz to the Bronx County Historical Society Archives. I did research there on another project but followed the historians principal of making copies of anything in an archive that looks interesting. Pianist, composer, and singer Gene di Novi was born in Brooklyn in 1928. He began his career as a young bebop pianist in jazz clubs along New York's fabled 52nd Street and played for several bandleaders. He recalls the happenings at the LaSalle Cafeteria. He described it as "the hangout of the Latin guys" located "cheek to jowl" next to Charlie’s Tavern. White musicians hung out at Charlies and Latinos at the Lasalle. One could run into jazz greats such as Noro Morales Tito Puente engaged in conversations about bebop and baseball. The Lasalle was across the street from Hansen’s Drug Store and Next to B and G’s famous for its “endless cup of coffee. For a nickel you could “drank coffee until you went blind” says de Novi. Jazz musicians also ate at Romeo’s on 8th Avenue where they served inexpensive spaghetti and meatballs.