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Bill Reinhardt: 1908-2001
Bill Reinhardt
Clarinet, club owner

Born: September 21, 1908
Died: January 23, 2001 in San Diego, California

Clarinetist Ran Famous Chicago Club

by Alana Rocklin
Copyright © 2001 Alana Rocklin


Bill Reinhardt, traditional jazz clarinetist and owner of the legendary Chicago club Jazz Ltd., died in San Diego. The cause of his death is not known at this time, his age is estimated as being in his late 80's.

Bill Reinhardt left the navy in 1945 and soon began planning what was to become Jazz Ltd, one of the first dixieland jazz clubs in Chicago, and probably the first to be owned and operated by a musician. After his enlistment, he had married Ruth Sato, a chorus girl on Broadway with the likes of Fred Astaire and Milton Berle, in June 1942 .

Together they opened the club at 11 E. Grand in Chicago, on June 11, 1947, east of the future location of the Jazz Record Mart. They hoped to find larger quarters, but the cozy ambiance and limited seating (about 85) worked in their favor, creating long lines of anxious jazz seekers outside: the sure sign of success.

Bill and Ruth were fortunate to have some of the most famous musicians of the day playing at Jazz Ltd. He once estimated, "...we must have hired over 700 musicians," including, Sidney Bechet, Muggsy Spanier, Doc Evans, Miff Mole, Art Hodes, Don Ewell, Wally Gordon, Sid Thall, Munn Ware, Barrett Deems, Albert Nicholas, Jim Beebe, and many many more.

Jazz Ltd. also was a recording house for the band. In the late 1940's, records were issued on the Jazz Ltd., Regal, and Atlantic labels, and in the early 1990's Delmark Records owner Bob Koester bought many of the original masters. Jazz Ltd. Volume 1 was released by Delmark in December of 1994 featuring sessions from 1947, '49, and '51. Unfortunately since that time, Delmark has not been able to get the rest of the source material from Atlantic, and therefore subsequent editions have not been issued.

Alana Rocklin
Alana Rocklin works for Delmark Records

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With 1 reader comment, posted March 12, 2007