The Harlem Hip at Lenox Saphire | The New Yorker

By Nicolas Niarchos

Photograph by Dina Litovsky for the New Yorker

Photograph by Dina Litovsky for the New Yorker

There are two reasons Phil Young is an uptown legend. First, for his work as a florist: for many years, he ran the Carolina Flower Shop, one of Harlem’s oldest and most beloved stores. Second, for his drumming: in the early sixties, when Phil was in his teens, his band won a competition at the Apollo Theatre. The legendary blues and R. & B. singer Bobby (Blue) Bland happened to be there, and asked Young to tour with him in night clubs around the country. A music career drumming for the likes of George Benson and Dizzy Gillespie followed.

These days, Phil invites a group of his musician friends to play two sets of jazz, blues, and soul on Thursdays at Harlem’s Lenox Saphire, a Senegalese-American restaurant a few blocks from the Apollo. He calls the evening “The Gathering of the Harlem Hip.” Big names like the saxophonist Patience Higgins can be found jamming with talented locals like John Felder, a golden-voiced mechanic who refers to himself as the “auto physician to the jazz community.” Sometimes people just pitch up and start singing. There’s no cover, the cocktails are sweet and strong, and the roiling music is even sweeter and stronger.

Read more: The Harlem Hip at Lenox Saphire | The New Yorker

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