by J. Michael Harrison
Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes from invited artists and community members consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals.
J. Michael Harrison is the host of The Bridge on WRTI. He presents his award-winning blend of jazz that takes you from the mainstream to the edge of the art. Rarely heard artists are played with regularity, as is a dash of jazz poetry.
THIS SONG FEELS SO GOOD TO ME EACH TIME THAT I HEAR IT! Brenda Dixon Gottschild explains it so well in her book, Joan Myers Brown & The Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina, when she writes, "As I listen to the words of "Sacrifice," struck by what they have in common with the spirit of Danco (Philadanco), Joan Myers Brown, her trials, her triumphs, I jot down these lyrics—"nose to the grindstone, head to the stars." Without knowing it, The Roots provided a thumbnail description for my topic of this chapter—that is, the uniqe spirit embodied in the community of people nurtured by black Philadelphia, which has shaped and defined a singular aesthetic, as evidenced by Philadanco." (136)
Music of My Mind
Tracy really caught lightning in a bottle with this track. I can’t help bobbing my head to this song.
Love in Outer Space
If anyone knows about Love in outer space it would have to be Sun Ra!
Valentine Love / Dindi / Love from The Sun
I selected three really special songs from Norman. These songs take me to a special place each time I hear them.
War of the Gods
This piece really captured my attention when I first heard it. It was different than a lot of music I heard from Billy Paul. I still dig it today.
Try / Love Rain
Seeing Jill catapult to stardom was amazing. I love the message “Try” offers. “Love Rain” has special meaning to me because Jill performed it in the studio with me long before it ended up on her first record. That night she kicked it as a poem with help from Stephanie Renee and Sabela Grimes—I knew I was witnessing something incredible!
Merry Christmas All
A lot of people love this song but most don’t know that Denise is a Philly girl! They should know that she is and also Michael Pedicin’s cousin.
Bill and Vera / Thank You / Skin N Bones
I’m a big Robin Eubanks fan and these are three selections that demonstrate how beautiful his playing can be, as well as, how funky he can be.
A Love Supreme / My Favorite Things / Naima
It’s Coltrane, do I really have to say anymore?
The Buddha Monk Stop
Jafar was at the forefront of a movement when he brought Free Bop to the world.
The Promise Land
Words can’t describe how I felt the first time Anthony Tidd shared this with me!
This piece has a really special connection with me. My involvement with the production of this project still holds a special place in my heart.
I really enjoy what Pat Martino did on this record. His career and his story is are both significant.
Jef Lee Johnson
Are you kidding me? What Jef did with this is scary! I had so many bright moments with the late Jef Lee Johnson! I heard so much of his music, long before his first record "Blue" came out. He used to send me tapes of stuff he was working on. This track was toward the end of his life but it was a reminder of how gifted he was.
In Search of My Heart
This track features the great Phyllis Hyman and the great Stanley Clarke along with the great McCoy Tyner! GREATNESS!
Speaking of GREATNESS! I selected this piece because it's written by Jymie Merritt who’s poised to finally receive the global recognition for his music that is long overdue. Now is indeed the time for Jymie Merritt. Hearing Lee Morgan and Jymie together on this piece is priceless.
The Demon Pt. 1 and Pt. 2
A killer track from a killer band!
I love Bobby’s writing! This is another example of how fortunate we are to have The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound here in Philly!
Harry Butch Reed
Sentimental favorite! This track is from Butch’s debut project as a leader. My cousin Butch has been a major influence on my radio career.
Bethlehem was brought to my attention by my cousin Butch Reed several years back. I think this track provides a glimpse at the potential this artist possesses!