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 have mapped Philly’s lost jazz shrines 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 documenting jazz-related cultural assets and historic resources.
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 venues fell victim to the 1964 race riots, urban renewal and gentrification. As a result, the history largely resides in the memories of those who were there. So All That Philly Jazz is crowdsourced. Community members are invited to share their stories online or at public events.
Drawing on archival materials and oral histories, we contextualize the social history of jazz We dig in the archives to uncover hidden and forgotten stories.
We create and curate content. All That Philly Jazz is a platform – a virtual jazz scene – where users share memories of a jazz spot and the musicians who played there.
All That Philly Jazz is about applied history, advocacy and cultural heritage preservation.We successfully advocated for a new mural to replace the ‘Tribute to John Coltrane” mural that was demolished by a developer.
Throughout the year, All That Philly Jazz Director Faye Anderson leads Green Book walking tours. Faye breathes life into “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” a travel guide that helped African Americans navigate Jim Crow laws in the South and racial segregation in the North.
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 cultural heritage preservation, public memory and community engagement. For more information, check out #ICYMI: All That Philly Jazz in the News.