Smalls Records

Smalls Records

The cabaret laws in New York City drove jazz underground. First enacted in 1926, and motivated by racial bias, the laws instituted capricious restrictions on the number and location of clubs able to legally present music having brass or drums, or requiring more than two musicians. Much of what is taken for granted about jazz and jazz culture is based on notions of fame and notoriety, but only notoriety within a majority culture, a majority culture that is often ignorant. Only in 1988 were the cabaret laws overturned in a resounding legal precedent that equated music with protected speech. Only then did the public at large witness the exodus of major talents emerging from the underground to appear in a multitude of new clubs in a kind of jazz renaissance. The original Smalls in its heyday in the 1990s was one place where numerous suppressed talents received exposure to a broad audience, some for the first time. But deeply entrenched cultural biases die hard. Distinguished older artists faced a public unprepared to assimilate older talents without being first prompted by major media public relations campaigns.

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Live at Smalls
Johnny O'Neal

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Frank Lacy & the Smalls Legacy Band

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May 26, 2014
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Bruce Barth Trio

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Face
Fat Cat Big Band

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December 16, 2009
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Dan Aran

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Travels
Adam Birnbaum

Travels

May 26, 2009
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March 10, 2009

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