“Philly Celebrates Jazz,” an annual Jazz Appreciation Month Celebration returns after a one-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The City of Philadelphia is happy to be able to invite Philadelphians to participate in this outdoor performance series, where they can wear masks and practice social distancing while safely experiencing Jazz Appreciation Month,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

The ceremonial jazz appreciation celebration spotlights local talent in honor of National Jazz Appreciation Month. Festivities include jazz-inspired performances, art exhibitions, film screenings, discussions, and of course live jazz!

Last year, the event was canceled in adherence to COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions for large gatherings.

As Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy(OACCE) worked to re-imagine and restructure the event, they’ve decided to add more virtual offerings and host in-person events in large open public spaces throughout the city.

“The last year has been incredibly challenging for the creative sector including Philadelphia’s jazz musicians, venues, organizations, and more,” said Kelly Lee, Chief Cultural Officer at the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy. “After the unfortunate cancellation of ‘Philly Celebrates Jazz’ in 2020 due to COVID-19, OACCE looks forward to presenting a re-imagined celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month through the support of many creative collaborations. It’s important to support local jazz musicians while providing an avenue for Philadelphians to experience the city’s jazz talent.”

OACCE encourages people of all ages and generations to participate in “Philly Celebrates Jazz”, marking it as a Philly family affair.

“In addition, OACCE is featuring jazz programming on Wednesdays and Fridays from 6 pm-7 pm on Arts Access TV, on channel 64, during the month of April. This is another way that we pivoted from live performances,” said Carrie Leibrand, Community Engagement Manager, Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy.

Part of their 2021 re-imaging process was pivoting away from hosting mostly indoor events and making the jazz celebrations more accessible on digital platforms and virtually for those who may not be ready to gather outside of their households just yet.

“What we re-imagined most were the locations. The weather in April is so unpredictable that OACCE usually schedules the neighborhood jazz performances in community hubs such as City recreation centers, libraries, and senior adult centers. This year we identified a few larger outdoor locations, that are accessible, where COVID-19 guidelines can be followed. It was also important to the City of Philadelphia to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month because jazz is part of Philadelphia’s history, we want to support our local jazz musicians and we want to present these free jazz concerts for all generations of Philadelphians to enjoy,” said Leibrand.

Jazz roots run deep in Philadelphia and the city has a rich jazz history. According to phillyjazzhistory.org, Philadelphia has been home to many transformative figures in jazz history, including Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and Sun Ra, in addition to lesser-known musicians who shaped the community and its music.

“The sheer volume and caliber of the jazz artists who have called Philadelphia home, by birth or by choice, is staggering. Many jazz artists, who have achieved international reputations, have maintained their roots right here in Philadelphia,” said Leibrand.

Attendees can expect a diversity of jazz performances in spacious outdoor venues like Cherry Street Pier, the Horticulture Center and Dilworth Park at City Hall.

They may even recognize some performers from past “Philly Celebrates Jazz” performances but you should expect to discover local emerging talent as well.

“OACCE is grateful for our collaborations with Jazz Philadelphia, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, the Philadelphia Musicians’ Union, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Park on Tap, and the Center City District to make the “Neighborhood Jazz Performance” series happen safely,” said Leibrand.

Collaboration was a vital part of re-imagining and recreating the staple Jazz Appreciation Month celebrations and creating new programming. OACCE collaborated with Jazz Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Musicians’ Union to program the series of diverse performances, including performances featuring multiple musicians, with a focus on this year’s inter-generational theme. The “Neighborhood Jazz Performance Series” which coincides with Jazz Philadelphia’s new programs launching this spring to support students, emerging artists, and our city’s jazz elders.

“The City is glad to provide free opportunities for Philadelphians to experience this jazz legacy both virtually and in locations throughout the city each year,” said Leibrand.

OACCE encourages those participating in “Philly Celebrates Jazz” to follow the latest local COVID-19 guidelines. Wear a mask and keep a six-foot distance from other people.

For more information visit creativephl.org.

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