Written by from WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center
In mid-century Philadelphia, dozens of organists reshaped jazz into a popular, swinging, danceable contemporary music. Often in trios with drums and guitar or saxophone, these organ players made church instruments into portable orchestras — a tradition that continues to the present day in Philadelphia.
Jazz Night In America visits Philadelphia’s World Café Live, where WXPN, WRTI and the Philadelphia Jazz Project organized a tribute to three native sons and daughters of the organ tradition: Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott and Charles Earland. Many top local performers help explain what made their city’s jazz organ culture thrive.