Audrey and Harry Lesner, otherwise known as The Budget Savvy Travelers, are full-time travelers and digital nomads. Born and raised in Chicago, their passion to show others how to break free without breaking the budget. They are the proud winners of the 2019 Top Budget Travel Blog.
The Mutual Musicians Foundation is located in the historic Jazz District of Kansas City, near 18th and Vine. Since the 1930s, musicians have been meeting here to play music into the early hours of the morning.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this celebrated facility has a mural on the front of the building that features massive music notes. The building is the former dwelling of the Colored Musicians Local 627. The Foundation was incorporated to oversee the assets of Local 627 and the building itself. From then on, the Mutual Musicians Foundation Inc. continued to manage the facilities as a social club for music enthusiasts until 1970 when Local 627 merged with Local 34.
Interestingly, the Foundation was featured in the movie, “The Last of the Blue Devils.” This 1979 documentary shares more about the history of Kansas City jazz. It features stars like Count Basie and Kansas City native Big Joe Turner. Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, and Charlie Parker were famous musicians that frequently stopped by, making it an extremely popular jazz club for locals and tourists alike. The film was produced and directed by Bruce Ricker.
Production for the documentary was completed at two musical gatherings held at the Mutual Musicians Foundation building in 1974. It primarily features impromptu jazz performances by Ernie Williams, Jay McShann, Jimmy Forrest, Parker, Basie, and Turner. Additionally, there is footage from a concert by the entire Count Basie Orchestra at the University of Kansas which is located in Lawrence.
Nowadays, the African-American Musicians Union, Local 627, is also identified as the Mutual Musicians Foundation. Just like in the 1930s, musicians and fans gather here on Friday and Saturday nights to enjoy live jazz music and drinks from 1 to 5 AM. There is a nightly member fee of $10 per person to enter (prices subject to change).
The space is also used for private parties, a classroom, and a rehearsal area. Considered by many to be a “living museum,” the Foundation is a great place for jazz lovers to embrace the music of the past and take in the local talent of musicians in the present.
Enjoy a glimpse of a typical jam session in the clip below which features Denyse Walcott performing at the Mutual Musicians Foundation:
Cover image by Jason Troy Masters is licensed under (CC BY-SA 3.0).