For most folks, Philadelphia’s jazz heritage begins and ends with John Coltrane. To be sure, Coltrane is a giant part of the story. But as James G. Spady wrote in “Lost Jazz Shrines”:
Conversations with pioneers of the jazz community in Philadelphia reveal the city’s illustrious yet largely undocumented jazz history.
We’re working on an app for that. All That Philly Jazz is mapping Philly’s jazz heritage from bebop to hip-hop.
From Dizzy Gillespie at the Downbeat to The Roots mural on South Street, we are breathing life into legendary jazz spots like Union Local 274 (Clef Club), Pep’s, Showboat, Aqua Lounge, Watts Zanzibar, Café Holiday, Geno’s Empty Foxhole and the Red Rooster.
Sadly, few physical assets remain. Jazz spots fell victim to race riots and urban renewal. As a result, the history largely resides in the memories of those who were there. So to preserve the legacy for future generations, All That Philly Jazz is crowdsourced. As we build out the interactive map, we have created a placeholder website where community members and folks anywhere in the world can share their stories, photos and videos of the jazz scene back in the day.
I’m making a presentation on this citizen-led project at the third annual Fast Forward Philly, a DesignPhiladelphia festival event. DesignPhiladelphia is the oldest and largest design festival in the country.
I will answer the question: What’s next for Philly? To get involved with All That Philly Jazz, contact us.