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Baker's Keyboard Lounge gets historic designation

Oldest continuously operating jazz club in world recognized by city of Detroit

DETROIT – It is the oldest continuously operating jazz club in the world, and now the city of Detroit is recognizing Baker's Keyboard Lounge with a historic designation.

The club opened in 1934, and Clarence Baker brought the greats in the world of jazz to Detroit, and they clamored to play here.

One of the first things that hits you when you walk into the club is the richness of sound. Baker's has felt-lined walls and special tiles imported from Italy to make the acoustics second to none.

"Because of this place, I travel to jazz clubs all over the world. I do it, because I am looking for that same sound, that same feeling I get when you come into Baker's, and just there's no place else like Baker's Keyboard Lounge," said Hugh Smith.

Smith is only the third owner of the club in its 80-year run. He feels the legacy when he walks in every day.

City Council President Pro Tempore George Cushingberry snuck into the club as a teenager to listen to the music.

"It's the kind of place that recognizes the music, the quintessential music of America, which needs to be preserved," Cushingberry said.

It's why the council is giving Baker's a historic designation. It will help with tax credits and financing to make sure Baker's and all that it has been for the last 80 years remains intact.

Baker's still welcomes musicians from all over the world to play on the corner of 8 Mile Road and Livernois Avenue, but the homegrown talent is formidable. Something about walking in the door guarantees an evening of music and artistry that melds into the alchemical.


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