Hometown Heroes

Anthony Dean

(Note: this profile was written prior to the passing of Mr. Barnes in April, 2020) Tenor giant Bootsie Barnes has been the epitome of a “Hometown Hero” for most of his 82 years. He’s never left the city, instead becoming a cornerstone of the Philadelphia jazz scene, remaining constant even as styles and generations changed around him.

Courtesy of the artrist

Trumpeter Terell Stafford has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by the late piano legend McCoy Tyner. The acclaimed bandleader and recording artist has appeared on dozens of albums, including five of his own, and is a soloist with the Grammy-winning Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

Rusty Russell

Trumpet great Randy Brecker is a legendarily prolific voice across the worlds of jazz, rock, pop, and R&B. He became a pioneer of jazz-rock fusion with Blood, Sweat & Tears, then with his late brother, saxophonist Michael Brecker, in Dreams and their own Brecker Brothers Band. At the same time he recorded countless sessions with superstars like Steely Dan, James Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa and many others.

Amie Goodman

Born in 1944 in South Philadelphia, guitarist Pat Martino was playing professionally in New York City clubs by the time he was 15 years old. His lessons in Philly with Dennis Sandole sometimes would give him the opportunity to sip hot chocolate with John Coltrane while both discussed the intricacies of improvisational music.

Courtesy of the artist

When it comes to the tradition of innovative Philadelphia tenor saxophonist-composers, Odean Pope is heavenly high atop that list.

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Jazz Project

Few Philadelphia musicians have had careers as rich and varied as saxophonist and bandleader Sam Reed. Born in South Carolina in 1935, Sam was six when came to live in the Point Breeze neighborhood of South Philadelphia, then home to a vibrant Black community with an active music scene.

John Abbott

Pianist Orrin Evans likes to refer to his extended music family as “The Village.” It’s an inviting and inclusive term that encompasses not only his ever-growing list of collaborators but his mentors and protégés, fans and friends, inspirations and supporters.

Melissa Gilstrap

Hailed as one of the world’s finest jazz saxophone players, Larry McKenna is firmly rooted in his Philadelphia birthplace where he has spent over six decades showcasing a gorgeous tenor saxophone sound.

Manasa Gudavalli

Jazz is many things to many people. To 19-year-old, Lower Merion, PA native saxophonist-composer Olivia Hughart—renowned for starting the female-focused Key of She Jazz organization and conference— jazz means pancakes. Jazz means family.Jazz means something loved and in close proximity.

Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

Trumpeter Wallace Roney died from complications of the COVID-19 virus on March 31, 2020 at the age of 59. But his life in Philadelphia and beyond will always make him a Hometown Hero.

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