1946 - 1955

Squeezer's

The exterior of Squeezer's
A black and white photo depicts a pianist, a bassist, and a drummer preparing to play.
Joe "Squeezer" Strazzeri Sr. on piano and Slam Stewart on bass.
Cotton Club

Now immortalized by “Squeezers Stage” at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, Squeezer’s is one of Rochester’s most beloved former clubs. Named after owner Joe “Squeezer” Strazerri, Squeezer’s location across the street from the Kodak world headquarters assured a steady stream of Kodak employees filling the crowd of the “no frills” venue. Strazzeri Jr., in an interview with the Democrat and Chronicle, remarked: “It was wall-to-wall with people. All the men wore shirts and ties.” And one of those people, considered a mainstay of the club, was “virtuoso” house pianist and organist Doug Duke. Remembered for being the only paid house musician and for his effortlessly cool charisma, Duke had toured with Lionel Hampton before resuming his position at Squeezer’s, where jazz lovers fawned over him, describing him to journalist Henry W. Clune as “The greatest, monstrous!” and “Cool as the inside of a wave.” 

Clune later remarked, in his “Seen and Heard” piece featured here, that “The elements of the band at Squeezer’s come and go and will. You need only an instrument and a skill in its use to become an integral part of this constantly shifting organization.” And shift it did, when Squeezer’s suddenly closed its doors in 1955, only for its place to be taken up by another jazz joint, the Band Box.

Otmen’s Restaurant

In 1950...

Henry W. Clune swung by Squeezer's and captured the the club's essence in his weekly column Seen and Heard. Simply entitled ``Very Weird,`` the article is filled with '50s jazz lingo, the songs of the night, and Doug Duke's timeless charisma.

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