‘I Could Always Sell My Saxophone,’ replied Roger Wolfe Kahn

When a life insurance salesman asked Roger Wolfe Kahn what he might do if his music career failed, the teenager flippantly replied, “I could always sell my saxophone.” That he never did sell his saxophone or any of the other tens of musical instruments he owned is a measure of the youngster’s confidence and testament to the planning and organization he applied to his music career. Nonetheless, not everything Roger put his hand to turned to gold. He had as many failures as he did successes. One of his most widely publicized flops was his and his father’s $250,000 loss on a New York nightclub that the youngster opened at the age of nineteen in 1926. That the press touted Le Perroquet de Paris as the most luxurious and sophisticated nightclub in America may have had some bearing on the inevitability of its untimely closure; nevertheless, that didn’t prevent the club from having a glittering six-month residency before it went dark. Le Perroquet de Paris was the stuff of dreams and had New Yorkers champing at the bit to gain entrance. That Roger and his father spent over a quarter of a million dollars on refurbishing the venue before its premiere seemed a pittance considering the net worth of Otto Kahn. To b
You've read three articles this month! That makes you one of a rare breed, the true jazz fan!

The Syncopated Times is a monthly publication covering traditional jazz, ragtime and swing. Our writers are paid to bring you the best coverage of the scene possible. Advertising will never be enough to keep these stories coming, we need your SUBSCRIPTION. Get unlimited access for as little as $3 a month or $30 a year.

Not ready yet? Register a Free Account to view five articles a month without nags or pop ups.

Already Registered? Log In

If you shouldn't be seeing this because you already logged in try refreshing the page.

Iain Cameron Williams was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, of Scottish and Welsh ancestry. His mother was born in New York and his father was born in Kalimpong, West Bengal, India. Iain Cameron Williams is the writer of The KAHNS of Fifth Avenue (2022), The Empirical Observations of Algernon (2019), and Underneath a Harlem Moon: The Harlem to Paris Years of Adelaide Hall (2003). The KAHNS of Fifth Avenue by Iain Cameron Williams (ISBN-13: ‎978-1916146587) is available to purchase via Amazon and all good bookstores or via the website www.thekahnsoffifthavenue.com.

Or look at our Subscription Options.