Franklin Motor Inn

The Franklin Motor Inn was located off Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 22nd Street and Spring Garden.

Franklin Motor Inn - New York Magazine Ad 1980

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stayed here on his final visit to Philadelphia. It is also where most of the acts performing at the legendary Uptown Theater stayed. From Philadelphia magazine:

Built in 1959, the hotel used to be called the Franklin Motor Inn. New York boxing promoters used to put up their guys here. Hookers idled, businessmen prowled, and the bar used to stay open till 4 a.m.

There was an A-list presence too. The last time Martin Luther King ever visited Philly, according to a 1994 piece in the Philadelphia Tribune, he spent the day sick in bed at the Franklin Motor Inn, his favorite hotel in the city. Joe Frazier, a regular, always sat in the same seat, on the far right end of the bar. (Marvis Frazier tells me his father ate breakfast at the hotel at least once a week for more than 30 years, but really came to “play the numbers.”)

Read more

John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once

Forbes reports the “lost album” earned John Coltrane his first Billboard Top 40 entry:

Jazz fans got a monumental treat last week in the form of John Coltrane’s posthumously released Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, which the virtuosic saxophonist recorded with his Classic Quartet in 1963. Those fans responded by giving Coltrane his first Top 40 album on the Billboard 200, 51 years after his death.

You can hear all seven tracks on the single-disc version here.

2019 NEA Jazz Masters

Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded Jazz Masters Fellowships, the nation’s highest honor in jazz, to individuals who have made significant contributions to America’s classical music. Last week, the 2019 Jazz Masters were announced.

2019 NEA Jazz Masters

The 2019 NEA Jazz Masters are:

  • Bob Dorough, vocalist, composer, arranger and pianist
  • Abdullah Ibrahim, pianist and composer
  • Maria Schneider, composer, arranger, and bandleader
  • Stanley Crouch, jazz historian, author, critic, and co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center

NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter said:

The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to celebrate jazz, an art form born in the United States that has since been embraced worldwide. These four new NEA Jazz Masters have been key players in jazz throughout their lives and careers, ensuring that the music will continue to grow and reach new audiences.

The honorees will be celebrated at a free tribute concert on April 15, 2019 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in DC. For more info, go here.

83rd Annual DownBeat Readers Poll

Voting is underway for the annual DownBeat Readers Poll.

DownBeat

The categories include:

  • Hall of Fame
  • Jazz Artist
  • Jazz Group
  • Big Band
  • Jazz Album
  • Historical Album
  • Trumpet
  • Trombone
  • Soprano Saxophone
  • Alto Saxophone
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Piano
  • Keyboard
  • Organ
  • Guitar
  • Bass
  • Electric Bass
  • Drums
  • Percussion
  • Female Vocalist
  • Male Vocalist
  • Blues Artist or Group
  • Blues Album

Click here to vote.

The Blue Note Story

In jazz’s heyday, there were clubs named the Blue Note across the country. Philadelphia had three such clubs, the most famous of which was located at 1502 Ridge Avenue where the Miles Davis Quintet, featuring John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) and Philly Joe Jones (drums), performed on December 8, 1956.

But there’s only one Blue Note record label that was home to such greats as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins.

A new documentary, “It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story,” retells the journey of Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, two German Jewish immigrants who fled Nazi Germany and founded Blue Note Records in 1939.

The Blue Note Story2
Fittingly, the film premiered at the Munich Film Festival on July 2.

For more information, go to https://itmustschwing.com/en.

Art, Jazz and Activism in North Philadelphia

Jazz musicians were about intersectionality before the term was coined. During 2018 Jazz Appreciation Month, I moderated a conversation on art, jazz and activism, curated by Black Quantum Futurism and Icebox Project Space.

Blue Note Salon

The panel discussion and community forum featured artists/activists Josh Graupera,  Stormy Kelsey, Michael O’Bryan and Tieshka K. Smith. The audio is now available on Artblog Radio.

%d bloggers like this: