The songs of John Coltrane will serenade East Germantown this summer

Jazz will once again spill into the streets from a beloved East Germantown garden this summer.

After a two-year hiatus driven by weather and economics, the husband-and-wife team of Raymond Wood and Rosalind Plummer have started planning the production of another community concert under the umbrella of the longstanding organization Tranestop Resource, Inc.

“This is a call to spiritually come together and save this music and save our culture and enrich ourselves in the process,” said Wood, TraneStop‘s chairman.

Date not yet scheduled

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Similar to the events the pair has organized for nearly 20 years, the concert will pay tribute to a jazz giant in an effort provide both entertainment and an education to neighbors near and far.

For this year’s edition, the pair has selected their organization’s namesake inspiration: Legendary saxophonist John Coltrane.

The origins of the distinctly American art form — among others, blues and gospel — will also be woven into the three-set showcase.

A specific date for the concert, whose official theme is “Roots, Rhythm and Soul,” has not yet been picked. Plummer said the one-day event will likely take place sometime in late August or early September, around Coltrane’s Sept. 23 birthday.

However, the location has been selected: Felicia’s Gardens on the corner of Washington Lane and Musgrave Street. The large, picturesque space, part of the Woods’ property, is named after one of Plummer’s nieces whom they adopted years ago.

“It’s part of the flavor [of the concert],” said Plummer, TraneStop’s executive director, of the outdoor venue. “There’s just nothing like it.”

If past concerts there are any indication, between 400 and 500 people will fill the yard.

Admission will be no more than $10, said Plummer. Children under 16 will get in free.

Neighborhood support important

On Saturday afternoon, the couple held an informal meeting inside Felicia’s Gardens, mostly as a means to start gauging what kind of community support they could expect for the concert.

Its price tag, while not astronomical, can easily reach $8,000, said Plummer. Though always necessary, community backing — financial and otherwise — will be more important this year, the first since the West Oak Lane Jazz and Arts Festival’s cancellation.

“We need community support because it’s for the community,” said Plummer.

A mix of area businesses, organizations and institutions have also all helped sponsor the event over the years.

Costs include, among other things, printing posters and flyers, tents, paying musicians and for a professional sound system.

Protecting a cultural legacy

As she swayed on a swinging seat, Sister Sacaree Rhodes, a long-time Tranestop concert attendee, said it’s important that efforts to bring jazz to the wider community remain in place.

The music, she said, must be preserved.

“This is a cultural dynasty that we don’t ever want to die,” said Rhodes as the piano line from Coltrane’s ‘Favorite Things’ fluttered from a nearby computer. “You have to keep it going at all costs.”

To that end, Rhodes hopes to see the Tranestop concert series continue. She’s been coming to Felicia’s Gardens, which she called “a paradise in an urban setting,” for at least a decade now.

“I usually sit over there by that tree and I just have a ball,” she said. “And I keep looking at my watch and say, ‘Go back. Go back time.’ Because before you know it, it’s time to go and you hate to go because you had such a good time.”

Reggie Malik Hudgins, a 25-year saxophonist, said music — and jazz in particular — is the cultural link between generations and that the concerts help foster that through community spirit, family, love and “just plain kindness.”

“It comes and it goes,” Hudgins said of the event, “but it leaves an atmosphere that perpetuates itself.”

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal