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NPR Music's Slingshot City Scenes Series Is Featuring Stories from WRTI

Since 2017, Slingshot—a collaboration between NPR Music and the digital music service VuHaus—has provided a platform where 'taste-making' music stations share stories about the music scene and emerging artists in their communities. Now, Slingshot is shining a spotlight on jazz in Philadelphia: its history, its present, and its future, with stories produced by WRTI.

Slingshot took a break during the COVID-19 shutdown, when so many live performances were cancelled. But now, the series returns online. 

WRTI begins a three-week run, beginning on September 9th. Look for these stories on WRTI.org that showcase the richness and depth of Philly's jazz scene.

Week One: 20 Philly Bassists That You Should Know by Matt Silver

Philadelphia's storied bass legacy reveals much about the city's jazz history. Get acquainted with Philly's rich community of bass players—from legends Jymie Merritt, who helped pioneer use of electric bass in jazz and Henry Grimes who played with everyone from Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, and Benny Goodman, to contemporaries such as Christian McBride, Jaco Pastorius, Gail Ann Dorse—longtime vocalist and bassist for David Bowie, just to name a few.

See Part 1 on NPR.org

See Part 2 on NPR.org

See Part 3 on NPR.org

Week Two: In Memoriam by Josh Jackson

During the first four months of 2020, we lost seven magnificent Philly-based jazz musicians. From saxophonists "Little Bird" Jimmy Heath, Danny Ray Thompson, and Bootsie Barnes to bassists Jymie Merritt and Henry Grimes, to pianist McCoy Tyner and Trumpeter Wallace Roney. Philadelphia and the music world mourn their loss and celebrate their gifts.

Week Three: Exploring Philadelphia's Role in Shaping the Future of Jazz by Bobbi Booker

With a strong musical inheritance and a present-day vitality, the Philadelphia area continues to nurture new talent for the future. We take a look at five local 'jazz incubators' that promise a new generation of musicians that touch our souls.

They include the old and the new—the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, both on South Broad Street; Settlement Music School, the oldest community music school in the country; the Dickerson family in Camden; and the innovative Key of She Jazz, dedicated to encouraging young female jazz musicians. 

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.