Jazz and Philadelphia have always gone together in my mind. One of my fondest Philadelphia memories is attending a Sun Ra concert on Halloween night many years ago. Sun Ra and his Angel Arkestra played on the altar of a church in West Philadelphia (I forget which). We all wore costumes. I was probably a gypsy-that’s my all purpose go to getup for Halloween except for the Halloween when I got married. But I remember one boy who was dressed in a marching band jacket, and had painted a red heart on each cheek. He informed us that Vladimir Mayakovsky was also known for painting hearts on his face. I would not be surprised.
Sun Ra and his Arkestra were masterful. They could get into a piece by Coltrane and transition seamlessly into a Bag Band Standard like “Take the A Train.” At the end of the night, Sun Ra led his musicians in a kind of conga line down the middle aisle of the church and the audience rose from the pews and joined in dancing and chanting around the church. Space is the Place!
It has been a difficult summer for me, but Philadelphia did not let me down. There were free Jazz concerts all over and I was lucky enough to be able to attend many of them. Here are some pictures and links from two wonderful series of music, one in City Hall and one in South Philadelphia. The artists have videos on YouTube and I encourage you to sample all of them.
Goodbye my friend. I’m glad you enjoyed the music.