Information on:

Baker's Keyboard Lounge

20510 Livernois Avenue
313-345-6300

About Us:

In 1933, Chris and Fannie Baker opened Baker's as a lunchtime sandwich restaurant. In 1934, their son Clarence Baker began booking jazz pianists, but Baker's was still known at that time principally as a restaurant. In 1939 Clarence, took over ownership after Chris had suffered from a stroke. That same year, Clarence began booking pianists from outside the Detroit area, although the club featured local pianist Pat Flowers from 1940 until 1954. In 1952, the club was expanded and remodeled to the Art Deco look that it retains today. By 1954, the business had rapidly expanded, and by the following year, Baker's began featuring major jazz acts, notably Art Tatum who played the last two years of his life, including his last performance in April 1956, Dave Brubeck in 1957 and Gerry Mulligan in 1958. During the 1950s Modern jazz was less common at Baker's than in was in the 1960s, when the emphasis of the club's music changed to Hard Bop. During the 1960s Clarence leased the club out, but resumed personal control in the 1970s.

Baker's is noted for its long history of presenting local and major jazz acts, its excellent acoustics, its intimacy - seating only 99, its Art Deco furnishings, including a distinctive, piano-shaped bar painted with a keyboard motif, Art Deco style paintings of European city landscapes by Harry Julian Carew, tilted mirrors that allow patrons to view the pianist's hands, and its Steinway piano which was selected and purchased in New York by Tatum for Clarence in the 1950s. The club still displays its original liquor pricelist from 1934, showing the price of beer at 26 cents.

In 1986, Baker's was designated as an Historic Site by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. The historic significance of the site is stated as follows:
Baker's Keyboard Lounge has significance as Michigan's jazz mecca and Detroit's oldest jazz club in continuous operation. Founded in May 1933 by Chris Baker as a restaurant and piano bar, the present jazz orientation of the club has been firmly in place since 1939. Baker's Keyboard Lounge has hosted the greatest names in blues and jazz since that date. Some of the musicians who have played the club include: Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, Sarah Vaughn, Joe Williams, Maynard Ferguson, Cab Calloway, Woody Herman, Modern Jazz Quartet, and Nat "King" Cole; to name but a few.

In 1984, Baker's Keyboard Lounge celebrated fifty-years of the sound of jazz in Detroit and Michigan.



Reviews

Melanin Monroe

Rating:
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Great food, really nice portions. I love the somewhat romantic feel, and the live music. The tables are somewhat small but it's not the end of the world. Service was nice, drinks were on point as well. Easy on the pocketbook, not overpriced. Looking forward to visiting again from Texas.

Tyko Davis

Rating:
Saturday, March 17, 2018
Have a wonderful band “Imminent Vibrations” on Sunday. We went at 5pm, the band plays till around 7-730 and there is no cover. Lisa was our waitress and she was pleasant enough. The food is decent. Had the meatloaf, mac and mashed potatoes. Portion was on the smaller side, but the meat loaf was delicious and so was the mashed with gravy. Boyfriend had the liver and gizzards, he found them a bit on the salty side. The mac was just okay, neither of us finished it. Seating is small and a bit cramped, but I found it cozy and intimate.

Estella Marshall-reed

Rating:
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Last weekend, my hubby didn't make reservations and we were initially set in the front near the band. Approximately a half hour later the waiter came over and stated that we needed to be moved to another seat., because someone came in that made reservations. This weekend my husband made reservations and we got there early. The couple in the line before us didn't make reservations. The waiter seated us near the bathroom and gave the couple who didn't make reservations great seats. The waiter told us we could leave, if we didn't like our seats. The owner/manager agreed with him, so we left!!

Clare Tyler

Rating:
Monday, Feb. 12, 2018
First time going and I absolutely loved it! The whole experience was great. Ambiance was cozy and the food was some of the best I've had (catfish was on point and so was the corn bread, which I tend to be a snob about). Drinks were good and strong. The music was a blast too. The band was pretty cohesive and smooth. Really enjoyed my night there. Can't wait to go back!

Tracey E

Rating:
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Nice place to go for jazz and soul food. The ambiance is nice. Although they have an advertised closing time, they really start cleaning and closing when the band is done. One thing I didn't like was the $15 cover. If we're buying (2) meals + cocktails, we shouldnt have to pay an additional $30 bucks.

Baker's Keyboard Lounge is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media