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Philadelphia's Zanzibar Blue Jazz Club to Close at the Bellevue

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Zanzibar Blue, arguably the city's best-known jazz venue, plans to close April 29 after more than 10 years downstairs at the Bellevue at Broad and Walnut Streets.

Robert Bynum, who owns Zanzibar Blue with his brother, Benjamin Jr., said yesterday that the lease was up and that although he was satisfied with the building and location, “we didn't think it was in our best interests to renew. We'd rather own [our] building than lease."

He said the new lease would have nearly doubled the rent, which he declined to disclose.

The brothers also own Warmdaddy's, the blues club they moved in the fall into RiverView Plaza, across from the proposed Foxwoods Casino in South Philadelphia. That space also is leased, as was Warmdaddy's previous home on Front Street in Old City.

Zanzibar Blue's closing is a blow to Philadelphia's jazz scene, once a hotbed of national acts and audiences who packed such joints as the Blue Note, Pep's and the Showboat.

Counting Zanzibar Blue, “there were only really three clubs left," said Mark J. DeNinno, who owns Chris' Jazz Cafe, about a block away on Sansom Street. He considers Ortlieb's Jazzhaus in Northern Liberties as the third Center City-area club with a full schedule of jazz.

“We have lots of musicians in this area, and it's important they have more places to play," DeNinno said.

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