The Jazz Residency is a yearly program at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The program aims to create new jazz works in Philadelphia by selecting a local cohort of artists working in the genre.
The three residency teams the 2019-20 season are: Ruth Naomi Floyd (Composer/Vocals) and Charles “Chaz” Lattimore Howard (Lyricist/Poet); Immanuel Wilkins (Composer/Saxophone) with Rog Walker (Photographer) and David Dempewolf (Video Installation); and Richard Hill Jr. (Composer/Voice/Bass).
The theme for this year’s program is “Philly Made.’’ Each team worked on a musical project addressing the issue of homelessness, cultural identity, and neighborhood diversity.
To document the development of the projects I was invited once again by Dave Tavani who works with the staff at the Kimmel Center to document many of the programs that happen in the SEI Innovation Studio.
Each of the teams host and produce material for individual Kick-off concerts, Public and Student Workshops, Work-in-Progress events featuring audience Q&As, and World Premieres. Through these events, students and the general public can follow the artists as they develop material. They can even make suggestions to the artists during the work-in-progress events.
Unfortunately this year the residency cycle was cut short because of the COVID-19 outbreak that took hold of the world beginning in January. During the last performance I was able to attend, during the first week of March, everyone nervously talked about what was happening with the virus. Although business was being conducted as usual, people talked about the uncertainty that was brewing.
By mid-March, the Kimmel Center was following local and state ordinances and canceled the remainder of all of the events.
The staff at SEI Innovation Studio had hoped that programming would resume in the fall and had internally scheduled dates for the Jazz Residency can conclude. Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to accelerate, sowing uncertainty with every spike in cases.
Until then, the images in the gallery showcase several of the events I was able to document prior to COVID-19 arrival and upending the livelihoods of so many people in Philadelphia and around the world.