Step inside the two-story Mutual Musicians Foundation building and the senses come alive with the spirit of one of the country’s most significant cradles of jazz.
Located in the historic 18th and Vine district—home to long-running jazz clubs and the American Jazz Museum—the Mutual Musicians Foundation is the oldest continually-operating jazz club in the country. The building was constructed in 1904 and originally served as a six-unit apartment complex. In 1917, the Musicians Local 627, or Colored Musicians Union, formed and eventually purchased the building.
Local or touring, famous or up-and-coming, any Black musician who played jazz in Kansas City—from area native Charlie “Bird” Parker and Count Basie to Ella Fitzgerald—was required to register with the Local 627 in order to get paid or file a formal grievance. The result was an always-buzzing musical home base, ripe to usher in a new era of jazz.
In 1940, local jazz pianist Pete Johnson wrote a song to capture the jumping vibe of the Local 627, a bluesy tune called “627 Stomp.”
Painted music notes dance along the exterior of the building, and a plaque next to the front door touts its status as a National Historic Landmark in 1981. Inside, over a hundred years of cigarette smoke and sweat are embedded in the wood-paneled walls.
Nearly every surface is lined with historic documents and photographs, a vault of jazz history. In the side yard, local artist Alexander Austin painted a giant mural honoring saxophone great Charlie Parker.
Since the 1930s, doors have opened around 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights for jam sessions that run until dawn and still take place today. In fact, the foundation is the only location in the state of Missouri with a permit to sell liquor until 6 a.m. Visitors are welcome to bring their instruments and jam with the band.
Know Before You Go
Mutual Musicians Foundation does not hold operating hours. To request a tour, call 816-471-5212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For live jazz sessions, stop by after 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Live music, jam sessions, and cocktails run until 5 a.m.