This was the first year that Mayor Michael Nutter, a known jazz aficionado, hosted the kick-off press conference at his Reception Room in City Hall. His presence signaled increasing support for jazz in Philadelphia, support that is much needed in view of the decline of jazz venues and concerts in the city, which continues to be the home base of many of the world’s greatest jazz players and vocalists. Nutter knowledgeably touted some of the city’s greatest jazz heroes, saying. “We’re talking about John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, Philly Joe Jones,” and adding that “Jazz is America’s most authentic and original musical gift to the arts.”
In honor of the occasion, Nutter gave an award replica of the Liberty Bell to legendary Philadelphia jazz saxophonist Benny Golson. Golson, in turn reminisced about his time with John Coltrane and others in North Philadelphia, mentioning a childhood flirtation with a lady named Thelma Anderson, who joined Golson at the lectern.
Margot Berg, Public Art Director, introduced the event and the mayor. The Francois Zayas Trio provided a musical prelude, including tunes composed by Philly musicians, concluding with a fine rendition of Golson’s “Whisper Not.”
The Philadelphia Jazz Project has organized dozens of events throughout the month of April at various venues around the city, including at the Kimmel Center, the Clef Club, the World Cafe Live, and the Woodmere Art Museum, culminating with a concert at City Hall on International Jazz Appreciation Day, April 30th.
A full list of Philadelphia’s Jazz Appreciation Month events are listed at philadelphia.jazznearyou.com.
Photo Credit: Cherri Gregg