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Welcome to Philadelphia Jazz Project

Philly Jazz Legacy

Phila Jazz Legacy Image 1Philadelphia 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. With that said, there is so much hidden treasure about these artists and so many others that has never seen the light of day. In an effort to save, preserve and share the many existing artifacts from the lives of our deceased and living musicians, a collaborative initiative of five of the city’s major jazz organizations was formed. The goal of the project is to establish a Philly Jazz Archives to collect, preserve, and share the city’s rich jazz history.

Visit The Philly Jazz History Website


Visit The Philadelphia Jazz Legacy Project YouTube Channel


Jack McCarthy on Jimmy McGriff's Organ


PJP spoke with project leaders Suzanne Cloud and Jack McCarthy about the Philly Jazz Archives project.


PJP: Can you briefly describe your background?

Suzanne Cloud: I started singing jazz in Philly under the mentorship of the late pianist and jazz fusion, pioneer Eddie Green and we worked and recorded together for over 20 years. In the 1990s, I went back to school, eventually receiving my doctorate in American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, focusing my research on the jazz aesthetic of the Philadelphia jazz community through oral and life histories of the wonderful musicians I had come to know on a personal and professional level.


JaMcGriff & Crawford Posterck McCarthy: I am an archivist and music historian who specializes in Philadelphia music history. I have managed a number of archival projects focusing on Philadelphia music history and frequently write, lecture, and give tours on the subject.


PJP: What is and why is it important now?

Suzanne Cloud: The Philadelphia Jazz Legacy Project is an ongoing effort to collect and preserve the material culture and artistic legacy of the Philadelphia jazz community. It’s important now because it has always been important to preserve this history and these traditions for future generations. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage provided the initial funding to pursue this that there was a definite chance to get the project going on a stable footing. The Philadelphia Jazz Legacy Project has just received a $20,000 grant from the Standing Stones Fund to continue our work.


Jack McCarthy: is the website for the Documenting & Preserving the Philly Jazz Legacy project, the goal of which is to create a Philly Jazz Archives to collect, preserve, and make available archival materials documenting the city’s rich jazz history. It is important that we act as quickly as possible to identify and preserve the personal papers and memorabilia of Philadelphia jazz musicians so that we can fully and accurately document Philadelphia jazz history.


PJP: What was your approach to creating this project?

Suzanne Cloud: Our approach was a collective and inclusive one in order to bring representatives of the entire community to the table to discuss all the issues we would face in this effort and to get a working group together with the same passion for the project.


Sounds Of LiberationJack McCarthy: The underlying rationale for the project is that there is a wealth of historical materials on Philly jazz history in the personal collections of local jazz musicians – or in many cases their descendants – but these materials are generally unknown, inaccessible and in danger of being lost forever, and a collaborative community-wide approach was needed to locate and preserve these important materials.

PJP: Who is working with you on this project?

Suzanne Cloud: We have a long list of participants— jazz organizations in the city and individuals involved in every level of jazz—and the group is always changing and expanding as we move forward. A complete list can be seen at our website at

Jack McCarthy: The project is a cooperative initiative of five local jazz organizations – Jazz Bridge, the Philadelphia Clef Club, Philadelphia Jazz Project, Ars Nova Workshop and Jazz Philadelphia – with guidance from an advisory committee comprised of jazz scholars, advocates, musicians, and representatives of the partner organizations.


PJP: What advice would you give the audience to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment of the site?


Coltrane PaperworkSuzanne Cloud:  Right now, the site is a “hello-we’re-here” kind of affair. We’re letting people know what we’re doing and most important of all—how they can help. Building the history of a community is an ongoing collective effort by members of that community: fans, musicians, photographers, sound people, club owners, writers, memorabilia collectors, and everyone has a story. We want to hear your stories and document what you’ve saved over the years. All of us, together, have to build this.


Jack McCarthy: We hope the site will serve as a central clearinghouse for the project, in particular as a conduit through which people who have historical materials on Philly jazz history, or know where there are such materials, can alert us to them so that we can work to preserve them


Visit The Philly Jazz History Website


Visit The Philadelphia Jazz Legacy Project YouTube Channel


Maya Belardo & Mike Boone



In 2018-2019, five Philadelphia jazz organizations—Jazz Bridge, Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts, Philadelphia Jazz Project, Jazz Philadelphia and Ars Nova Workshop—engaged in a collaborative discovery process to explore how to preserve, interpret, and share Philadelphia’s expansive jazz history. Funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the one-year Discovery Project brought together leading figures in the local jazz community to develop a vision and lay the groundwork for a sustainable Philly Jazz Archives.


While the Discovery Project concluded in June 2019, the individuals and organizations involved remain committed to working together to establish a Philly Jazz Archives to collect, preserve, and share the city’s rich jazz history. The project represented the first coordinated effort to identify and preserve original source materials that tell the story of the city’s vibrant jazz tradition, including manuscripts, recordings, photographs, show programs, and oral histories.



Suzanne CloudSuzanne Cloud, writer, historian and jazz musician, who received her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in American Studies. She has published six books and is the founding director of Jazz Bridge, a nonprofit aiding musicians in crisis. She is a recipient of the Rutgers University Chancellor’s Award for Civic Engagement. Cloud has recorded critically acclaimed albums on the Dreambox label, which recently reissued her 1995 release, With A Little Help From My Friends.




Jack McCarthyJack McCarthy is a longtime Philadelphia archivist and historian who has directed major archives and public history projects, produced a variety of cultural programs, curated exhibits and written and lectured widely on Philadelphia history. McCarthy has a master’s degree in music history and created an archive for his alma mater, the School of Music at West Chester University. He currently serves as consulting archivist for the Philadelphia Orchestra and Mann Music Center.




Visit The Philly Jazz History Website


Visit The Philadelphia Jazz Legacy Project YouTube Channel






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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.


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Philly Jazz Quotes

If it hadn't been for him, there wouldn't have been none of us. I want to thank Mr. Louis Armstrong for my livelihood.
                    Dizzy Gillespie

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.