Jazz Appreciation Month begins Friday in Philadelphia and, to set the stage, The Clef Club entertained Monday at City Hall. An overflow crowd jammed into the mayor’s reception room to see five-time Grammy winner — and city native —Christian McBride honored.
Bassist McBride is a product of the Clef Club and the city’s High School for Creative and Performing Arts where he made stops on his way to Julliard.
He’ll never forget the city and its musicians, young and old, he said.
“It’s those memories of the older musicians who took such great pride in the younger musicians having the hunger and wanting to learn about the music rather than do something else,” said McBride. “For that, I’m always grateful to the city of Philadelphia.
“And I will promise any young musician from Philadelphia, if I could be of any inspiration to you, as those cats were to me, I’m there for you.”
Philadelphia will always be home, McBride said, and the place where he sneaked into a bar as an underage musician to play with some of the city’s greats.
“The staff of Slim Cooper’s said, ‘You can play one song, and then you have to go,'” McBride recalled. “So every Monday — I’m sorry Mom — we would sneak to Slim Cooper’s and just play one song, just one song, and then we would hustle back to West Philly.”
More than 70 jazz events are set for April — including live performances, art exhibitions and films.