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The World Stage is more than just one of the most vibrant jazz clubs in Los Angeles. It's also at the literal and figurative center of the Leimert Park arts scene, a crossroads and nexus point of African-American culture that includes poetry readings, drum circles, jazz and writing workshops, and wildly open-ended, high-level jam sessions. Since poet Kamau Daáood and the late drummer Billy Higgins opened the small performance space/gallery in 1989, such stellar musicians as Bennie Maupin, Rose Gales, Rickey Woodard, The B Sharp Jazz Quartet, Tiffany Austin, Charles Owens and vocalist/World Stage executive director Dwight Trible have shared the club's tiny stage, which is wedged into an old storefront next to a painting of the solar system that inspires even more freewheeling flights of words and sounds. The World Stage's entrance is actually through the back patio, where people gather outside at tables to play chess and listen to the rich variety of music spilling out the door.