In 2018-2019 five Philadelphia jazz organizations—Jazz Bridge, Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts, Philadelphia Jazz Project, Jazz Philadelphia, and Ars Nova Workshop—engaged in a collaborative discovery process to explore how to preserve, interpret, and share Philadelphia’s expansive jazz history.
While acclaimed bassist and bandleader Christian McBride has toured internationally, appeared on more than 300 recordings as a sideman and is a six-time Grammy Award winner, he's never forgotten his regional roots.
The Ars Nova Workshop (ANW) team has been busy during COVID-19 isolation. “We’re still dreaming up ways to support our heroes, including some virtual concerts, some commissioning, and we continue to work on our annual festival, our podcast, our upcoming LP releases, our exhibition (and connected catalog),” says executive and artistic director Mark Christman. “We’re also looking on how to partner with a record label to get recordings from our 20-year archive out commercially, getting much-needed funds into the hands of artists.”
The very mission of the Jazz Bridge Project is to assist Greater Philadelphia area jazz and blues artists in times of crisis. A mission such as this would have to be born out of love, where love is a verb. It is love that shows up to meet the needs of our jazz community. It is love that finds a way to clear obstacles from a musician's path, giving them peace of mind and allowing them to re-focus their energy on their art. For 16 years, Jazz Bridge has been dedicated to addressing many types of crises without delay.
An idea that started as a concept for an iPhone app a year ago has now come into fruition at the perfect time. “When the corona pandemic took over, the idea which I had been sporadically working on suddenly got moved to the front burner,” says Anthony Tidd. “I’ve been working on it non-stop—dawn to dusk—since the beginning of March.”
Allen speaks about how Sun Ra’s concept of the “spirit of the day” isn’t an abstraction, and the idea says a lot about his creative longevity.
Maud Lyon, president of The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, sees the dire situation of the Philadelphia jazz community and is working to do something about it. “Jazz suffers from both the loss of work at nonprofit venues and the closing of restaurants, bars, and clubs,” Lyons explains. “The majority of musicians are freelancers, making this situation especially difficult and uncertain. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is doing all we can to bring you resources, and to amplify your voice to leaders!”
“What if there was one activity that could benefit every student in every school across the nation? An activity that could improve grades and scores on standardized testing? An activity that would allow students to form lasting friendships? An activity that would help students become more disciplined and confident?” asks Lovett Hines, Artistic Director for the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts.