The Three Deuces, on that most famous of jazz strands–New York’s 52nd Street–was as prominent as any venue in jazz could possibly be in the years immediately after World War II. Booking everything from swing to rhythm & blues, the Deuces is remembered as one of the earlier spots where one could hear modern jazz. Charlie Parker played a particularly fruitful engagement there in 1948, preserved for subsequent generations in the amateur recordings of Dean Benedetti. The Deuces’ tiny stage also featured the likes of Coleman Hawkins, Wynonie Harris, Charlie Ventura, Errol Garner, Lennie Tristano and dozens of other artists from a wide range of styles. Gilbert Pincus, the self-styled “Mayor of 52nd Street” served as a sort unofficial concierge, accepting tips to direct customers to either the Deuces or to the traditional jazz featured across the street at Jimmy Ryan’s. It was the modern stuff, ‘though, that made loyal patrons out of the earliest beatniks, including Jack Kerouac. Kerouac mentioned the Three Deuces as his favorite of the dozens of joints on 52nd Street, and it stands out among the many long-gone jazz venues that played such an important role in the development of the music. Incidentally, the awning always read “Three Deuces,” while the neon sign read “3 Deuces” during its jazz years. Once it–and many of the other clubs on 52nd Street–became a strip joint in the 1950’s, the newer neon sign read “Three Deuces.” Classier that way, perhaps?