Philadelphia is a jazz town. This fact will be underscored on Wednesday, October 19th when the Philadelphia Music Alliance inducts the Class of 2016 into the Walk of Fame. This year’s inductees are organist Joey DeFrancesco, tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, bassist Christian McBride, bassist Jaco Pastorius, and WRTI radio broadcaster Bob Perkins
PMA Board chairman Alan Rubens said in a statement:
The Alliance is very excited to be able to specifically honor jazz this year as an extension of Philadelphia’s essential ties to this unique American art form’s rich legacy. It’s important to be reminded of the global impact and influence that Philadelphia has continued to bring to the jazz world, since the Roaring ’20s. Jazz doesn’t always get its due these days, even though it’s current as ever. Jazz is today, and it’s very much got a thriving pulse in our great city.
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.
Dottie Smith was a jazz vocalist who recorded and toured with bandleader Louis Jordan. Jordan saw her perform at Spider Kelly’s and offered her a job on the spot.
Jazz Historian and WRTI Jazz Host Bob Perkins wrote:
Dottie Smith opened her own place on Columbia Avenue, called La Gayla, a handle based on her married name, Gayle. She booked local icons Bootsie Barnes, Jimmy Oliver, Philly Joe Jones and host of others.
Also known as “BP with the GM,” (translation: “Bob Perkins with the Good Music”), Perkins has been in the broadcasting industry for more than four decades as an on-air host, and is now commonly referred to as a Philadelphia jazz radio legend.
BP broke into the radio business in 1964 when he landed an on-air job in Detroit. In 1969, his hometown of Philadelphia beckoned him back with a gig at rhythm-and-blues station WDAS, where he worked for the next 19 years. He joined WRTI in 1997. In addition to his job as jazz host, BP writes numerous columns and commentaries on jazz for local publications. He also hosts concerts at jazz clubs and at regional festivals.
BP was awarded the 2002 Mellon Jazz Community Award. In 2007, he was honored with a proclamation for his outstanding contributions to Philadelphia’s jazz community by Mayor John Street, Philadelphia City Council, and the House of Representatives in Harrisburg. Wait two seconds and you’ll hear about yet another award bestowed on “Ol’ BP,” as he calls himself.
Hear Perkins on Monday through Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 pm, and on Sundays from 9 am to 1 pm on WRTI, 90.1 FM.