In 1967, as a seven year old I used to take my 5 year old brother to school and we changed buses at Fillmore and Geary. Public transit. Different times!
Later I lived on California and Fillmore from 1990 to 1998, a glorious time to live in San Francisco.
During that period, I built one of the world’s first online-only museums and it was dedicated to – of course – the history of Fillmore Street.
Every shred of Fillmore’s illustrious jazz history had been stripped away by that point, but bit by bit I reassembled what I could.
Then along came Elizabeth Pepin and Lewis Watts who began an ongoing multi-decade labor of love documenting one of America’s great African-American communities and what at the time was one of the hottest jazz scenes west of the Mississippi.
Their book – now in a brand new addition with 100 brand new pages of photos and text – is luscious.
You can’t understand the history of jazz without having a feel for the “scenes” that made jazz possible and this may be the best capture of a 1940s+ era jazz scene ever.
My fervent wish is that every “scene” find archivists, historians, and story tellers with the same passion and dedication as Pepin and Watts to capture their story while it’s still possible to talk with the people who lived it. This is not just important jazz history, it’s important American history.
Alina is the person who brought jazz to Lincoln Center, helping forever transform the way jazz is presented globally.
Her latest project Music on the Inside brings jazz , music education, and mentorship to incarcerated people and people re-entering society after being imprisoned.
Music on the Inside hosts a streaming concert every Sunday at 6 PM eastern.
You can support this organization directly as well as the musicians who contribute their time – and we strongly recommend you do so.
Tech note: Thanks to all the darn conferencing apps we’ve added to the computer in recent months and the way that some of them (i.e. Zoom) hijack and scramble settings on our computer, the normal headphone setting we had on was, unbeknownst to us, switched off even though it indicated it was on. Thus our end of the conversation was recorded off the computer’s speakers. This is the reason for the poor audio quality of the recording and the constant air conditioner’s hum in the background.
– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube
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Music credit: The Jazz on the Tube podcast theme song is “Mambo Inferno” performed by The Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra conducted by Bobby Sanabria from the CD ¡Que Viva Harlem!
Jazz on the Tube interviews Jacob Goldberg author of “Swingin’ the Color Line.”
Music is a calling – but it’s also an occupation.
Fair pay, unrestricted job opportunities, good working conditions, the need for benefits like health care and retirement support…all these are issues for musicians too.
African-American musicians played an important role in reforming Local 802, the New York City musicians union, and their actions had widespread ramifications not only for New York-based musicians, but musicians – and workers – everywhere.
Unfortunately, the audio quality has some problems in spots, but this a very eye opening story.