Imagine going to a party where everybody is extremely passionate about the exact same kind of music.

Flushing Town Hall will present Hot Club: Jazz Listening Session on Saturday, Jan. 18, starting at 12:30 p.m.

First some history. Starting in France in the 1930s, jazz aficionados would get together in “Hot Clubs” to share 78 RPM records that they played on phonographs. (Times were hard back then. Internet streaming services didn’t exist.) It was listening-session-meets-book-club, and participants grooved to King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, Chick Webb and his Orchestra, Bix Beiderbecke and his Gang, Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, and other popular acts of the day.

The gatherings became so popular that jazz venues started incorporating the term “hot club” into their names. (Some establishments and amateur groups, Hot Club of San Francisco, Hot Club of New England and Hot Club de France, still exist today.) Plus, the word “hot” became a defining term of the genre with Dixieland becoming “Hot Jazz,” and groups adding names like “hot six” or “hot nine,” depending on how many musicians they had.

As time passed, the fad faded, going the way of the hula hoop, pet rock, and bowl haircut. But now there’s a revival called the “Neo Hot Club” movement, which is based on getting together to listen to classic and rare jazz in the original 78 RPM format, which many aficionados claim offers a wonderful, full-bodied sound. (They were the dominant record from the 1890s to the 1950s, when 45 RPM and 331/3 RPM versions took over.)

Ben Young — a Grammy-nominated jazz historian, teacher and former WKCR radio host — will lead the festivities at Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., on Saturday. To honor the upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he’ll observe some of the Jazz themes that echo the Civil Rights leader’s message and activism. The program features Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins, Bix Beiderbecke, Chu Berry, Roy Eldridge, and Jack Teagarden.

An open spin is set for noon with official activities starting at 12:30 pm. Admission is free.

Flushing Town Hall has been organizing periodic Hot Club events for a long time. Most have themes. For example, a September session focused on Count Basie’s pre-World War II years and the mid-1940s work of tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet, along with some John Coltrane.

The next one is scheduled for Saturday, March 21, with more information to be announced.

Images: Flushing Town Hall


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