City officials recently announced efforts to celebrate its rich jazz legacy and the current vibrant music scene in Philadelphia through a series of activities held throughout April.
At a kickoff event outside of City Hall, organizers of Philadelphia Jazz Appreciation Month launched a local celebration citywide, which will begin on April 1. The theme is adopted from National Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) observed by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the national celebration.
“Celebrating National Jazz Appreciation Month in Philadelphia gives us a great platform for recognizing Philadelphia as a world-class jazz city,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “It gives us an opportunity to raise appreciation and awareness about the many places in our city where we can listen to, learn about and study the art of jazz.”
Philadelphia Jazz Appreciation Month is led by the City’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy in partnership with the Office of the City Representative. Participating in the kickoff were City Representative Melanie Johnson; Gary Steuer, Chief Cultural Officer and Director of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy; Don Gardner, Managing Director, The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts and Warren Oree, local jazz musician. Oree, a veteran of the Philadelphia music scene, and his band — Warren Oree and The Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble — peformed the music.
JAM is designed to draw more public attention to the iconic tradition of jazz and its importance as an American cultural heritage. The goal of JAM is to stimulate the current jazz scene and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz by studying the genre, attending concerts, listening to jazz on radio and recordings, reading books on the topic and supporting institutional jazz programs.
Philadelphia has an extraordinary jazz heritage, beginning with Ethel Waters, and extending to John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Stan Getz, the Heath Brothers, Dizzy Gillespie, Sun Ra, McCoy Tyner, Grover Washington Jr. and other music luminaries. In the mid-20th century, Philadelphia contributed to the development of bebop-style jazz assisting to popularize
this inventive genre, which was born in after-hour New York City clubs. In the 1940s, the city’s lively jazz scene was based out of clubs along Columbia Avenue in North Philadelphia and in South
Philadelphia (The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts and Pep’s). Many of these clubs and jazz legends with Philadelphia roots have inspired an active roster of premier musicians and venues over the years, and now in the modern era.
The Philadelphia Jazz Coalition — a group of musicians, presenters, club owners, media, music schools in the jazz community– was established to lead the efforts through a collaboration promoting and supporting Philadelphia’s rich jazz tradition and resources.
A logo has been developed that will be widely used by all participating organizations, as well as a website with information on jazz events around town, and other ways to participate: (www.creativephl.org/jazz). The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance has created a special section and listing of jazz events in the Philly Fun Guide (http://www.phillyfunguide.com/categories/index/14/911).
The Smithsonian also maintains a web site with information on the national program.