John Coltrane

John Coltrane was the son of John R. Coltrane, a tailor and amateur musician, and Alice (Blair) Coltrane. Two months after his birth, his maternal grandfather, the Reverend William Blair, was promoted to presiding elder in the A.M.E. Zion Church and moved his family, including his infant grandson, to High Point, NC, where Coltrane grew up. Shortly after he graduated from grammar school in 1939, his father, his grandparents, and his uncle died, leaving him to be raised in a family consisting of his mother, his aunt, and his cousin. His mother worked as a domestic to support the family. The same year, he joined a community band in which he played clarinet and E flat alto horn; he took up the alto saxophone in his high school band. During World War II, his mother, aunt, and cousin moved north to New Jersey to seek work, leaving him with family friends; in 1943, when he graduated from high school, he too headed north, settling in Philadelphia. Eventually, the family was reunited there.

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Joey DeFrancesco

Inducted: 2016

Joey DeFrancesco’s emergence in the 1980s marked the onset of a musical renaissance. Organ jazz had been a form of music that literally went into hibernation from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties largely because of the introduction of high-tech, light-weight keyboards. It was Joey, however, that ignited the flame once again with the sound of his vintage Hammond organ and Leslie tone cabinet. He not only illuminated this once dormant music form but brought back the many proponents of jazz organ who had been shuffled by record producers and club owners to lesser roles within the music industry. Befriending and supporting those who preceded him, Joey became the new-age proponent of an instrument that had been pushed aside in favor of the growing technology.

Considered a child prodigy, Joey remembers as far back as age four, playing jazz tunes modeled by his father, Papa John DeFrancesco and memorizing music from the many jazz albums in their home. Papa John, a jazz organist himself, took young Joey under his wing and nurtured his rapidly developing skills, bringing Joey along with him to gigs, Joey would sit-in with as many seasoned Philadelphia musicians who were around. Legendary players like tenor saxophonist, Hank Mobley, or drummer, Philly Joe Jones, would soon become aware of young Joey DeFrancesco and acknowledge his enthusiasm. Joey’s grandfather and namesake, Joseph DeFrancesco, was the patriarch and, himself, a musician’s musician; able to pick up a new instrument and teach himself to play. This gift was passed down to young Joey and now manifests itself in Joey’s extraordinary keyboard skills; piano playing; and organ wizardry – not to mention his undeniable mastery of the trumpet

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Kevin Eubanks

Kevin Eubanks is a gifted musician and prolific composer whose own band, the Kevin Eubanks Quartet, has been evolving for close to twenty years. Kevin is also well known as the Music Director of The Tonight Show Band, appearing on the show 18 years (1992 – 2010). In both situations, Kevin has won over audiences with a laid back style and an affability that seems to be the concentration and focus that has made him both a household word for TV viewers and a consummate guitarist.

Kevin was born into a musical household in Philadelphia. His mother, Vera Eubanks, is a gospel and classical pianist and organist with a Masters Degree in music education. She has taught both privately and in the school system, until her recent retirement. Vera’s brother, Ray Bryant, is a journeyman jazz pianist who has recorded and toured with jazz greats such as Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Sarah Vaughn not to mention a few hit records of his own. Kevin was thus exposed to world-class music in his formative years, when he began to play the violin. Along with his older brother Robin, an accomplished trombonist and also a professional musician, Kevin played in small groups around his hometown and spent countless hours practicing at home. Kevin studied the trumpet before making his commitment to the guitar, which was solidified with his entrance to the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston.

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Kenneth Gamble

In tandem with his partner Leon Huff, producer and songwriter Kenny Gamble was the principal architect behind the lush and seductive Philly Soul sound, one of the most popular and influential musical developments of the 1970s.

Native Philadelphian Kenny Gamble first teamed with Leon Huff during the late ’50s while a member of the harmony group the Romeos, a unit which also included another aspiring area musician named Thom Bell, who would become crucial to Gamble’s later success. “The 81,” a 1964 single by the little-known Candy & the Kisses, was the inaugural Gamble-Huff co-production, and three years later the duo scored their first Top Five pop hit with the Soul Survivors’ “Expressway to Your Heart.” Soon recruiting Thom Bell as arranger, they subsequently scored with smashes including Archie Bell & the Drells’ “I Can’t Stop Dancing” and Jerry Butler’s “Only the Strong Survive,” gradually forging their own distinctive sound.

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Stan Getz

One of the all-time great tenor saxophonists, Stan Getz was known as “The Sound” because he had one of the most beautiful tones ever heard. Getz, whose main early influence was Lester Young, grew to be a major influence himself and to his credit he never stopped evolving.

Stan Getz had the opportunity to play in a variety of major swing big bands while a teenager due to the World War II draft. He was with Jack Teagarden (1943) when he was just 16 and this was followed by stints with Stan Kenton (1944-1945), Jimmy Dorsey (1945), and Benny Goodman (1945-1946). Getz, who had his recording debut as a leader in July 1946 with four titles, became famous during his period with Woody Herman’s Second Herd (1947-1949), soloing (along with Zoot Sims, Herbie Steward, and Serge Chaloff) on the original version of “Four Brothers” and having his sound well-featured on the ballad “Early Autumn.” After leaving Herman, Getz was (with the exception of some tours with Jazz at the Philharmonic) a leader for the rest of his life.

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Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie’s contributions to jazz were huge. One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time (some would say the best), Gillespie was such a complex player that his contemporaries ended up copying Miles Davis and Fats Navarro instead, and it was not until Jon Faddis’ emergence in the 1970s that Dizzy’s style was successfully recreated. Somehow, Gillespie could make any “wrong” note fit, and harmonically he was ahead of everyone in the 1940s, including Charlie Parker. Unlike Parker, Dizzy was an enthusiastic teacher who wrote down his musical innovations and was eager to explain them to the next generation, thereby insuring that bebop would eventually become the foundation of jazz.

Dizzy Gillespie was also one of the key founders of Afro-Cuban (or Latin) jazz, adding Chano Pozo’s conga to his orchestra in 1947, and utilizing complex poly-rhythms early on. The leader of two of the finest big bands in jazz history, Gillespie differed from many in the bop generation by being a masterful showman who could make his music seem both accessible and fun to the audience. With his puffed-out cheeks, bent trumpet (which occurred by accident in the early ’50s when a dancer tripped over his horn), and quick wit, Dizzy was a colorful figure to watch. A natural comedian, Gillespie was also a superb scat singer and occasionally played Latin percussion for the fun of it, but it was his trumpet playing and leadership abilities that made him into a jazz giant.

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Benny Golson

Inducted: 2016

Multitalented and internationally famous jazz legend, – a composer, arranger, lyricist, producer – and tenor saxophonist of world note, Benny Golson was born in Philadelphia, PA on January 25, 1929.

Raised with an impeccable musical pedigree, Golson has played in the bands of world famous Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Earl Bostic and Art Blakey.

Few jazz musicians can claim to be true innovators and even fewer can boast of a performing and recording career that literally redefines the term “jazz”. Benny Golson has made major contributions to the world of jazz with such jazz standards as: Killer Joe, I Remember Clifford, Along Came Betty, Stablemates, Whisper Not, Blues March, Five Spot After Dark, Are you Real?

Benny Golson is the only living jazz artist to have written 8 standards for jazz repertoire.

These jazz standards have found their way into countless recordings internationally over the years and are still being recorded.

He has recorded over 30 albums for many recording companies in the United States and Europe under his own name and innumerable ones with other major artists. A prodigious writer, Golson has written well over 300 compositions. For more than 60 years, Golson has enjoyed an illustrious, musical career in which he has not only made scores of recordings but has also composed and arranged music for: Count Basie, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Mama Cass Elliott, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Shirley Horn, David Jones and the Monkees, Quincy Jones, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae, Anita O’Day, Itzhak Perlman, Oscar Peterson, Lou Rawls, Mickey Rooney, Diana Ross, The Animals (Eric Burden), Mel Torme, George Shearing, Dusty Springfield.

His prolific writing includes scores for hit TV series and films: M*A*S*H, Mannix, Mission Impossible, Mod Squad, Room 222, Run for Your Life, The Partridge Family, The Academy Awards, The Karen Valentine Show, Television specials for ABC, CBS and NBC. Television specials for BBC in London and Copenhagen, Denmark. Theme for Bill Cosby’s last TV show, A french film ‘Des Femmes Disparaissent” (Paris).

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Benny Golson Plaque

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