Jazz and Baseball Were Teammates
FunTimes Fun: Events & Entertainment!
Traditionally, professional baseball and jazz coincide like the keys on a piano in the Black community. The rhythm of every pitch, just like every note, has a story. Bee-bop and baseball. The Negro League players decades ago would hobnob in the historic jazz district on Vine Street in Kansas City, Missouri, where the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum was later founded. The late manager John “Buck” O’Neil, the museum’s founder, once said the players in the clubs and the players on the diamond were like “kissing cousins”. That’s why Vine Street also boasts the American Jazz Museum.
Musicians of yesteryear would mix and mingle with the Boys of Summer after games in the array of live jazz clubs. The bluesy riffs of Big Joe Turner, Count Basie, and Charlie Parker would jitterbug down 18th and Vine. Jackie Robinson, who played for the Kansas City Monarchs, and his teammates would seek their therapy through the ache of the blues. Robinson adored jazz, so much so, that the museum will host a concert, “Jazz & Jackie,” in Kansas City on May 7, the anniversary of the trailblazer’s first game with the Monarchs ([email protected] via e-mail, or website: https://nlbm.com).
April’s observation of Jazz Appreciation Month is the perfect opportunity to go and celebrate the fields of the blues and baseball’s Negro Leagues, where once upon a segregated time, up until the 1960s -- as one baseball book title suggests -- Only the Ball Was White. But before venturing out to any of the in-person free or low-cost activities, be sure to contact the organizers to confirm event hours and inquire about their updated pandemic safety policies.
Here’s the WURD on Jackie Robinson Day
Friday, April 15, 2022. Jackie Robinson did more than integrate major-league baseball; his trailblazing debut in 1947 sent a color-blind message to the entire nation. His seminal efforts impacting civil rights and many other playing fields are celebrated annually today. Major League baseball recently retired his uniform number and all big leaguers only wear his famous 42 on April 15th. Listen from home, work, or onsite to WURD 900 AM or 96.1 FM as it broadcasts the 5th Annual Jackie Robinson Day in Philadelphia from Brown’s ShopRite where Robinson’s life and legacy will be celebrated. Radio is where many heard the broadcast of the star’s barrier-breaking moment three-quarters of a century ago. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Brown’s ShopRite of Parkside, 52nd and Jefferson streets, 215-425-7875, WURDradio.com
Photo by Steve Weinik
Breaking Down the Wall of Racism
In 1997, the Mural Arts Philadelphia program and muralist David McShane brought us a three-story mural depicting Jackie Robinson sliding into home plate during a World Series game. The mural in North Philadelphia was re-dedicated in 2016. Philadelphia was represented by the Phillies who were one of the last teams to integrate African Americans -- long denied their chance at-bat in the major leagues. Check out the vivid masterpiece at Belmont and Parkside avenues, or sign up for a guided tour of various citywide murals. 215-685-0750, [email protected]
Walk It Off…
Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park is a wonderful outdoor space to walk into history. In 2005, the Business Association of West Parkside christened this public tribute to the contributions of Blacks in professional baseball honoring the memory of Jackie Robinson and the Philadelphia Stars of the defunct Negro League Baseball.
Paula Holloway Sings Jazz-Gospel Live
April 16 & 17, 2022. Inspirational Fusion is the cross-section where jazz marries gospel. Vocalist Paula Holloway perfects the blend. She performs as a regular guest with The Philly POPS. She has sung for years in Philadelphia-area churches, on the stage in productions ranging from “A Soulful Christmas,” Dorothy in “The Wiz,” and has been a featured Psalmist in “The Gospel at Colonus.” Two hour-long shows: April 16, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; April 17, 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., $20 & $25, SOUTH Jazz Club, 600 N. Broad St., 215-600-0220, https://southjazzkitchen.com
Jazz on The Parkway
April 16, 23 & 30. Enjoy a Saturday afternoon concert in the park right out on the Ben Franklin Parkway at Jazz in Maja Park. Bring a picnic lunch (no littering please), a chair, and your best chill vibe for the soulful sounds of the Vibe-A-Delphia Jazz trio. 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., free, Maja Park, 22nd and the Ben Franklin Parkway, 215-763-3427, https://www.associationforpublicart.org
Big Brass 4tet
The Big Sound of Big Brass
April 18, 2022. Get ready for a real treat with the sweet melodies of Big Brass 4tet, an all-star ensemble formed for a summer pop-up concert series in Old City Philadelphia in 2018. The members are composers who write and are leaders of their own groups. Big Brass 4tet consists of drummer Rob H. Henderson(drums), Dan Nosheny (tuba/sousaphone), Frank Rein (trombone) and Koof ibi Umoren: (trumpet and flugelhorn). This event is presented as part of Philly Celebrates Jazz in partnership with Philadelphia Jazz Project. 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., free. Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine St., 215-686-5322, https://www.jazzbridge.org/
Jazz Quartet Swings
April 18 & 25 2022. Chill out to some of the region’s most talented musicians. The Tony Williams Jazz Quartet hosts the Blue Monday Jazz Series. Sit-in guest musicians are invited during any chosen set. Enjoy the groove of THE TONY WILLIAMS ENSEMBLE artists Dave Posmontier, Aaron Graves, Mike Boone and Craig McIver. 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., $5 (guest musicians and students) & 10. Also, take in some free jazz on Thursdays in April (April 14, 21 & 28), 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. with sizzling live special guest performances of classic jazz from selected house bands. LaRose Jazz Club, 5531 Germantown Ave., 215-844-5818, https://jazzclublarose.com/