All That Philly Jazz is a place-based public history project that is telling the story of Philadelphia jazz from bebop to hip-hop. We are breathing life into jazz spots from A to Z, from the Aqua Lounge to Zanzibar Blue. From Dizzy Gillespie at the Downbeat to The Roots mural on South Street, we are mapping cultural assets, including jazz venues and landmarks, Walk of Fame plaques, historical markers and murals.
In an essay in “Lost Jazz Shrines,” noted author and scholar James G. Spady observed that Philly’s jazz history is “largely undocumented.” Sadly, much of Philadelphia’s jazz history has been erased. Few extant buildings remain. Jazz spots and landmarks have fallen victim to the 1964 race riots, urban renewal and gentrification. As a result, the history largely resides in the minds of those who were there. So All That Philly Jazz is crowdsourced. Community members are invited to share their stories about Philly’s jazz scene online or at community forums.
Every block tells a story about the city’s jazz heritage. We are creating and curating content. All That Philly Jazz is a platform – a virtual jazz scene – where users can share memories of a jazz spot and the musicians who played there. Visitors and new residents will discover their neighborhood’s hidden past.
All That Philly Jazz is about advocacy and cultural heritage preservation.
All That Philly Jazz is also a hub for information about the current jazz scene. In short, we are preserving the past and building new audiences for jazz.
In the coming months, we will roll out a mobile app, All That Philly Jazz Heritage Trail. The self-guided walking tour will begin at 11th and Market, the former location of the Earle Theater. The walk will end at Broad and Christian, the former location of Union Local 274, the black musicians union whose members included John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie.
All That Philly Jazz stems from Music Hack Day, a music-related hackathon held at Drexel University.
All That Philly Jazz is at the intersection of art, public policy and cultural heritage preservation. For more information, check out ICYMI: All That Philly Jazz in the News.