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, co-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’d 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.
Opened in 1950, the Flamingo Apartments was the first interracial apartment building in Philadelphia.
The complex was one block from Mercantile Hall which played host to jazz legends, including Cliff Brown and Fats Navarro, and a short walk to the legendary Golden Strip.
In an interview with All About Jazz, WRTI Jazz Host Bob Perkins recalled:
A year ago, I did a short documentary on Bird (Charlie Parker), and found out about the apartment he lived in at Broad and Stiles near Girard Avenue.
Curiously, I lived in the same building 30 years later. Bird was there in 1952 to 1953. I lived there in 1980, between marriages. And, believe it or not, Dave Brubeck also lived there! He told me that, personally. It was called the Flamingo apartments—a hot place to live at the time. Arthur Prysock lived there.
From Jeffrey S. McMillan, “A Musical Education: Lee Morgan and the Philadelphia Jazz Scene of the 1950s”:
Early in 1954, a Camden, New Jersey, DJ named Tommy Roberts began holding jazz sessions at the Heritage House [Educational and Cultural Center], a north Philadelphia community center located on the second floor of what is now the Freedom Theater at 1346 N. Broad Street. These sessions became an important part of the Philadelphia jazz scene, especially for young musicians, and gave birth to a series of events known as the “Jazz Workshop.” Beginning in April 1954, the Workshop met every Friday afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00 and featured prominent jazz artists who were in town playing evening engagements in the clubs in Center City. The first hour of each session entailed a performance by the featured artists and was followed by an intermission where members of the audience were free to socialize with the musicians. The second hour was devoted to young musicians and composers who were encouraged to sit in with the artists or submit their work to be performed by the band. This unique, hands-on opportunity for youngsters to learn about jazz was augmented by the quality of artists that appeared at the Workshop.
In 1954 alone the artists included the Chet Baker Quintet (featuring James Moody), Johnny Hodges’s band (which, at the time, included John Coltrane), Buddy DeFranco, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Bud Powell, Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Roy Eldridge, the Erroll Garner Trio, and Billy Taylor. Besides a 75¢ admission fee, there was only one restriction to being admitted to the Workshop: every attendee was required to be twenty years old or younger. Those of legal drinking age, twenty-one or older, had to take their business to the clubs to hear the artists.