VENUE

Vancouver musicians play at The Cellar

Cellar, the

1956—1963

222 East Broadway
(back alley entrance, Watson St.)
"Everybody who was playing jazz was doing it at The Cellar"
-Paul Ruhland


What began in 1956 as a basement in the back alley of Main Street and East Broadway rented by a group of musicians looking for a place to play evolved into one of the leading jazz clubs in North America. Vancouver's original Cellar, the premier jazz club in Western Canada, was not only a thriving hospot for Vancouver's finest resident musicians but also the singular venue presenting international artists such as Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Don Cherry, and many more. Coincidentally, the name is shared by the present-day Cellar restaurant and jazz club that operates on West Broadway and Dunbar.

Watch the following video clips for some of the many amazing stories and colourful memories of The Cellar:

VIDEO
"In Search of Innocence" (1964) - excerpt #1
A film directed by Léonard Forest. Produced by Jacques Bobet, National Film Board of Canada.
(00:00:43)
A 1964 documentary film on how Vancouver's poets and painters look at life and art. This is an extremely brief excerpt is from the introduction of the film. Seen playing bass is Don Thompson, followed by Glenn MacDonald on sax, and Al Neil on piano. The film "In Search of Innocence" contains the only existing footage of The Cellar jazz club.

VIDEO
"In Search of Innocence"(1964) - excerpt #2
A film directed by Léonard Forest. Produced by Jacques Bobet, National Film Board of Canada.
(00:02:33)
A 1964 documentary film on how Vancouver's poets and painters look at life and art. This particular excerpt contains some of the only existing footage of The Cellar (00:30:00 to 00:01:20). Music: Al Neil on piano, Don Thompson on bass, Glenn MacDonald on sax.

VIDEO
PJ Perry on The Cellar
(00:01:07)
PJ Perry describes the Frank Lewis painting at the bottom of the staircase at The Cellar.

VIDEO
Don Thompson on The Cellar
(00:01:55)
"Good evening, you're just in time to shut up!" were the first words nineteen year-old Don Thompson heard from Charles Mingus during one of his first experiences at The Cellar. In this segment, Don Thompson gives a visual sense of what The Cellar looked like.

VIDEO
Don Thompson plays at The Cellar for the first time
(00:01:46)
Younger than his musical peers in the late 1950s, Don Thompson talks about the first time he played at The Cellar with Dave Quarin.

VIDEO
Terry Clarke on The Cellar (part 1)
(00:01:15)
Drummer Terry Clarke talks about how The Cellar jazz club was "on the cutting edge" and about his first experience at the club as a fifteen year-old.

VIDEO
Terry Clarke on Charles Mingus at The Cellar (part 2)
(00:01:44)
"I had never heard music like that in my life; I was absolutely stunned." Drummer Terry Clarke tells the infamous story of Charles Mingus at The Cellar.

VIDEO
Al Neil on The Cellar
"The ambiance of the place struck people," says pianist Al Neil, one of the founding members of The Cellar, as he describes what it was like.
(00:00:54)

VIDEO
Ricci Quarin on The Cellar (part 1)
(00:02:09)
Ricci Quarin, former wife of musician Dave Quarin, gives an overview on how The Cellar became one of the leading jazz clubs in North America.

VIDEO
Ricci Quarin on The Cellar (part 2)
(00:02:11)
Ricci Quarin, former wife of musician Dave Quarin, gives an overview of how The Cellar became one of the leading jazz clubs in North America.

VIDEO
Ricci Quarin on The Cellar (part 3)
(00:01:01)
"The Cellar was friendly and it was honest." In this segment, Ricci Quarin talks about what it was like for musicians like Buddy Rich, Charles Mingus, and Wes Montgomery who played at The Cellar.

VIDEO
Ricci Quarin on The Cellar (part 4)
(00:01:29)
Gavin Walker recalls Harold Land saying The Cellar was "THE club on the West Coast." Ricci Quarin talks about how the musicians who ran the place pitched in to make it so.

VIDEO
The Cellar has a culinary history in Vancouver, too
(00:01:37)
Gavin Walker and Ricci Quarin recall The Cellar jazz club was the first venue in Vancouver to serve late-night pizza (supplied by The Snackery on Granville Street)!


PHOTO GALLERY

Click on thumbnail for larger image

Ornette Coleman at The CellarThe CellarThe CellarVancouver musicians play at The Cellar

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Clarke, Terry. Personal Interview with Mark Miller. Toronto, ON. 20 Dec 2005.

In Search of Innocence. Dir. Léonard Forest. 1964. National Film Board of Canada, 1964.

Perry, PJ. Personal Interview with Gavin Walker. Vancouver, BC. 20 Apr 2005.

Neil, Al. Personal Interview with Eric Metcalfe. Vancouver, BC. 16 Jul 2005.

Quarin, Ricci. Personal Interview with Gavin Walker. Vancouver, BC. 01 Nov 2005.

Thompson, Don. Personal Interview with Mark Miller. Toronto, ON. 20 Dec 2005.

FOR MORE INFO

See John Dawe.

See Al Neil.

See PJ Perry.

See Don Thompson.

See Dave Quarin.

Gregg Simpson's website on the Cellar

Jazz in the Cellar
A print-work and web installation dedicated to the The Cellar Musicians and Artists Society of Vancouver.

(Click to download .PDF file)
"Jazz Critic Looks at City Spots," 1946
Bob Smith discusses the Cellar and other Vancouver venues.