All That Philly Jazz was named one of the top 50 jazz blogs and websites for jazz musicians, teachers and students. We came in at #41. The list includes JazzWax and Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Way to go!
For more news and mentions, check out ICYMI: All That Philly Jazz in the News.
Empire Records Shop was located on the edge of “The Strip” at 52nd and Market Streets.
Empire Records was the oldest, continually-operated Philadelphia jazz record shop (1930 to 1970). In an online profile, Bill Morlitz shared his story:
I was born in Camden NJ since my mom’s cousin was head of Obstetrics at West Jersey Hospital on February 1, 1950 and have lived my whole life in Philadelphia and/or its suburbs. My dad had the first jazz record shop in Philadelphia so at an early age, I was immersed in the music business. Maybe that’s why I can’t sing a note on key nor have the 10 years of piano lessons stayed with me. Chopsticks is beyond me.
During my teens, I was fortunate to personally meet many great jazz artists including Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Buckner (who developed the locked wrist rhythm style of piano playing and was Lionel’s pianist), Lionel Hampton and many others. Grover Washington, Jr. worked in the store on the weekends and we used to go listen to jazz sets together. My photography is included on his “Live at the Bijou” album.
Gus “Mr. Silk” Lacey, was the unofficial mayor of 52nd Street, aka “the Strip.” He and his wife, Virginia, owned Mr. Silk’s Third Base. Heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, and music legends Teddy Pendergrass and Stevie Wonder were among the celebrities who frequented Mr. Silk’s.
Jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott performed here. In his biography, Faith in Time: The Life of Jimmy Scott, he recounted the neon sign outside read: “Always Touch Third Base Before You Go Home.”
Mr. Silk’s was featured in the 1972 blaxploitation film Trick Baby.
Film critic Dan Buskirk wrote:
Between “White Folks” and Blue, we see both sides of the city: from a posh dinner party where “White Folks” meets well-heeled businessmen whose greed makes them potential marks as well as the raucous scene at “Mr. Silk’s Third Base” a West Philly nightclub that functions as Blue’s unofficial office. We see a lot of the warm glowing interior of Mr. Silk’s. The club was a real place, a center of African American nightlife at 52nd and Spruce (their slogan was “You have to touch 3rd Base before you go home”). Owner Gus Lacy was “Mr. Silk,” by all accounts a bon vivant who received his smooth moniker by selling ladies’ undergarments along his postal route. He was also known as “The Mayor of 52nd Street” and before it closed in 1985 politicians, pimps and regular folks rubbed shoulders with stars like Stevie Wonder, Muhammad Ali and James Earl Jones. It’s a blessing that this little corner of the world was captured on film.
A blessing indeed.
Opened in 1809, the Walnut Street Theatre is the nation’s oldest theatre. In 1978, the theatre launched a superstar jazz series, kicked off by saxophonist Dexter Gordon.
Other performers in the series included Woody Shaw, Sonny Rollins and McCoy Tyner.
Ripley’s Music Hall was located in the former Hippodrome in South Philly.
The music venue played host to greats of all genres, including McCoy Tyner, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Sam & Dave and Gil Scott-Heron
Ripley’s Music Hall was later demolished. A new building was constructed on the site was occupied by Tower Records, which closed in 2012.
The 1st Quaker City Music Festival, a three-day jazz festival produced by George Wein, was held at Connie Mack Stadium in 1960.
From the August 29, 1960 edition of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin:
The stage was situated at third base with the fans sitting in both the upper and lower stands from home plate to left field.
The lineup included Gloria Lynne, Dizzy Gillespie, Chico Hamilton, Herbert Mann, Nat Adderly and Ornette Coleman.
Connie Mack Stadium was demolished on July 13, 1976.
On September 30, 1967, the 2nd Quaker City Jazz Festival became the first event hosted by the Spectrum.
The two-day festival was produced by Herb Spivak, owner of the legendary Showboat. According to Joe McAllister:
Spivak went to Ed Snider and company (the Flyers were still in their infancy and the Sixers played at the Convention Center) and said he’s like to book a two-day jazz concert. Initially rebuffed because the Snider group didn’t believe a jazz bill would sell, Spivak replied, “That’s my problem.”
Spivak booked 10 groups a day and once again sold out the concert in two days. Dizzy Gillespie opened up the Spectrum with “God Bless America” followed by performances by Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck, Sarah Vaughan and Flip Wilson among others.
The lineup also included Cannonball Adderley, Astrud Gilberto, Groove Holmes, and Arthur Prysock.
The Spectrum formally closed on October 31, 2009. Demolition was completed in May 2011.