Dick Parsons: Bye corporate world, hello jazz club

The year was 1964 when former Time Warner Chairman and CEO Richard Parsons took his high school prom date to a New York jazz supper club for a performance by the legendary jazz artist Billy Taylor.

"It was my first adult experience ... we got to dress up, have a great meal, listen to jazz," Parsons said. "I fell in love with the whole 'gestalt,' and ever since then, I've wanted to have one of my own."

Nearly 50 years later, Parsons, now retired as Citigroup chairman, turned his dream into reality as co-owner of Minton's Playhouse in Harlem.

Parsons took CNBC's "Power Lunch" on a guided tour through the birthplace of bebop, where Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Billie Holiday all launched their careers.

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"What I learned from Time Warner, Citigroup, is not terribly useful when you are trying to run a restaurant. This," Parsons said, "is a tough business."