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The Pythodd lives again


Mention jazz and most Rochesterians will immediately think of the yearly Jazz Festival. But for others, particularly those who lived in the Third Ward neighborhood during the 1950's, the Pythodd Club on Clarissa Street was the height of cool.

Filmmaker Tina Chapman DaCosta has captured the club's history in her documentary film "Remembering the Pythodd." The film, which was selected for the 2013 High Falls Film Festival, will be shown at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 16, at the Flying Squirrel Community Space, 285 Clarissa Street.

Chapman DaCosta, who is completing her master's degree in film at the Rochester Institute of Technology, spent much of last year researching the film and finished making it last spring.

From the 1950's through the early 1970's, the Pythodd drew musicians and vocalists from all over the country. They were often making their way to New York City, Chapman DaCosta says, where jazz was flourishing. Lou Donaldson, Lonnie Smith, John Coltrane, and Kenny Burrell all appeared at the Pythodd, says Chapman Da Costa.

While researching the film, Chapman Da Costa says she was told that Miles Davis and Sarah Vaughan played the Pythodd, too, and that George Benson sang publicly for the first time at the legendary club.

In the film, much of the history of the Pythodd is told by two women who lived near the club: Diane Sheffield, a longtime Rochester resident and community organizer, and Gloria Winston, a columnist for the Minority Reporter.

The club was lost to urban renewal in 1972. The site is now a parking lot.