The Spirit of the Pythodd
Tasked with creating a project that promoted the history of Rochester’s Third Ward District, our preliminary research kept leading back to the same topic: The Pythodd Club. Located at 159 Troup Street, the Pythodd was more than just a jazz-fueled neighborhood hotspot, it was the heart of a community that would later be ravaged by urban renewal. Now, it’s remembered as one of Rochester’s most beloved jazz clubs.
But it didn’t have the great names coming through like the Ridge Crest Inn, nor did it have the charismatic bandleader Doug Duke keeping the customers coming back– what it did have, however, was an undeniable spirit. It’s a spirit that inspired photo collections, same-named establishments, jazz festivals, documentaries, and now, a website.
Consequently, we see the Pythodd Club as an exceptional example of how jazz has so deeply entwined itself with the Rochester community. As a result, we have structured our digital exhibit to best highlight different elements of that history. The “Jazzchester” section is devoted to a history of Rochester’s lively mid-century jazz scene, the “Spirit” section covers the unforgettable essence of the Pythodd, the “Legacy” section highlights the influences the Pythodd has had on Rochester’s jazz community today, and the “Digital Archive” section allows you to take a firsthand look through the resources that made this project possible.
We hope you enjoy visiting our exhibit– and maybe along the way you might encounter the sense of what journalists and patrons could only ever describe as “That Pythodd Feeling.”
The Mangione Quintet circa 1958. From left to right: Gap Mangione, Larry Combs, Dick Sampson, Chuck Mangione, Jim Allen.
“Portrait at the Pythodd” (c) Paul Hoeffler/Estate of Paul Hoeffler/CTSIMAGES. Used with permission.
Explore the Archive
Examine the documents, photos, and videos we collected over the course of building the project.
You move in the Pythodd Room. If you aren't moving, somebody should carry you out. You must be dead. The tingle starts around the rib cage, then moves up, down, and around. Next thing the whole body is kind of jiggling ever so slightly...The room. The people. They surround you. The music crawls inside.
People would come [to the Pythodd] after church because it was their gathering spot. It had that kind of aura. You could see the best players you can imagine at the beginning of their careers.
One thing. No dancing. I found out at a place we ran crosstown that if you put music, dancing and whisky together, it does something to the blood that means trouble.
SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE PYTHODD, 1959
(c) Paul Hoeffler/Estate of Paul Hoeffler/CTSIMAGES. Used with permission.
Rochesterians have a long relationship with jazz. The Pythodd Club, located in Rochester’s Third Ward district, provides a fascinating glimpse of how these relationships and a shared love of music shaped–and continue to shape– the city’s vibrant music scene and culture.