The Bon Ton, formerly located at the corner of East Ferry and Waverly streets on Buffalo's East Side, was one of two of the city's leading jazz clubs in the early 1960s. Chuck Mancuso, SUNY Buffalo State American Popular Music professor and jazz aficionado, will present a talk on the iconic night club. Mancuso frequented The Bon Ton and will chronicle its importance to local and national jazz scenes. He will be accompanied by Grammy Award-winning pianist George Caldwell who will play the great sounds of Bon Ton jazz.
"Actually, the Bon Ton was tavern, not a club, accommodating about 150 people...a long bar at the entrance and a back room filled with tables and chairs where the bandstand rested," said Mancuso. "The inauspicious façade was much like Birdland in New York, which was a credit to the amiable owners, brothers Pete and Marvin Sellars. They headed operations for more than 23 years and the inside resembled a simple, unaffected jazz club, such as The Halftone, New York City's pride and joy."
Aptly billed as “Buffalo’s Soul Music Center,” the Bon Ton competed with larger clubs such as the Royal Arms on West Utica near Main Street. Both clubs featured many of the same “name” musicians--John Coltrane, The Three Sounds, Jimmy Smith, Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis, Johnny Lythle & Wes Montgomery, among others. Then came the “British Invasion “ and second phase of rock’n’roll.
Come to the Burchfield Penney the see and hear the great sounds of “Bon Ton Jazz”!
About Chuck Mancuso
Chuck Mancuso has made an indelible impression on the faculty and students of SUNY Buffalo State. By mixing a lifetime of research and scholarship with his groundbreaking, multimedia approach to teaching, Professor Mancuso has come to define how American popular music, film, and culture are taught—not just in the SUNY system, but across the country. Since joining Buffalo State in 1976, Professor Mancuso has taught courses on the elements of American popular music, modern jazz, urban blues, rock 'n' roll, American folk music, country music, Hollywood musicals, and film noir. His diverse and extensive knowledge, coupled with an intuitive ability to reach and inspire students, has made Chuck's courses among the most popular the college offers.
In addition to his classwork, Professor Mancuso is a popular local lecturer, writer, and commentator on numerous radio and television shows. In 1996 Professor Mancuso published the landmark book, Popular Music and the Underground: Foundations of Jazz, Blues, Country and Rock (Kendall-Hunt, 1996). When it comes to publications that cover American music with both depth, breadth, and a voice that is equal parts historian and unabashed fan, there is simply no equal. In 1997, he was awarded the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity.
About George Caldwell
The ensembles are directed by UB adjunct professor George Caldwell, a fully tenured jazz piano legend who has served with the Count Basie Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, as a sideman extraordinaire, and as leader of his own ensembles. Renowned as performer, composer, band leader and teacher, Caldwell presided over the ivory 88s for the Basie Orchestra when the group won a “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance” Grammy in 1996. He’s one of the pre-eminent swinging players in modern jazz.
Caldwell is instrumental in co-organizing the annual John Coltrane Birthday Celebration at The Center presented in collaboration with the Pappy Martin Legacy Jazz Collective.