THE PHILADELPHIA LEGENDS OF JAZZ ORCHESTRA is comprised of 17 outstanding Jazz musicians, most over 60 years of age., Collectively, these seasoned musicians have almost 1,000 years of experience and in spite of their ages, they perform with the vigor and vitality of youth. Their many years of performing experience have contributed to this great sound that perpetuates the amazing Philadelphia Jazz Tradition.
In August 1992, THE PHILADELPHIA LEGENDS OF JAZZ ORCHESTRA evolved out of the Philadelphia Elders of Jazz Orchestra which was developed under The Philadelphia Elders of Jazz Project. That non-profit committee still operates under the auspices of the TraneStop Resource Institute, Inc., a 501(c)3, and is now known as THE PHILADELPHIA LEGENDS OF JAZZ PROJECT. It is dedicated to gaining recognition for the accomplishments of these musicians who transcend Jazz periods from Swing, through Bebop, to the present.
THE PHILADELPHIA LEGENDS OF JAZZ ORCHESTRA played its premiere performance at Philly's Penns Landing Labor Day Jazz Festival, September 1, 1991. Before the concert ended, they had people dancing in front of the stage. Later that year, performances at the Philadelphia International Jazz Festival and the University of Pennsylvania's 3rd Annual Jazz Festival were equally well received. The word was out and engagements started to come in.
1992 was a banner year for THE PHILADELPHIA LEGENDS OF JAZZ ORCHESTRA. They performed twice for large groups of children at Philly's Please Touch Museum. In July, they were featured at the Willingboro, N.J. Jazz Festival which was dedicated to Charlie Chisholm, the LEGENDS' former conductor. There were also Philadelphia performances at the Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Fest during Labor Day weekend and another Music Scholarship fundraiser at Lakey's Restaurant. Outstanding press coverage during 1991 and 1992 included articles in Downbeat Magazine's August 1991 issue and the 1992-1993 winter issue of Renaissance Magazine.
In March of 1993, THE PHILADELPHIA LEGENDS OF JAZZ ORCHESTRA opened the show for that fabulous comedian, Mr. Bill Cosby, at Harrah's Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. A couple of months later, following a sweeping reorganization, Mr. Leon Mitchell became the new Musical Director. During the next few months, an excitingly unique focus for THE LEGENDS took shape.
Early in 1994, THE PHILADELPHIA LEGENDS OF JAZZ ORCHESTRA emerged again as "a force to be reckoned with" in two outstanding, smash-hit concerts at Philly's Ayinde Cultural Arts Center and Martin Luther King High School. Since the summer of 1994, they have been featured in many venues. Most noteworthy were Philly's Robin Hood Dell East; National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta; Trenton NJ Jazz Festival; their own "Classic Battle of the Saxes" bash; a dance-concert for The National Black Music Caucus; the TraneStop Resource Institute's annual Jazz Festival Symposium; New Yorker Magazine's "Celebration of American Music;" twice at CoreStates Bank's Annual "Jam On The River" presented by Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau; their own "Big Band Blowout" production; The SAP America Convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center; Penn Medical Center's Lunchtime Concert Series (co-sponsored by The Philadelphia Orchestra); their co-produced "Philly Fall Festival of Jazz" at WHYY-TV's Forum Theater; a benefit for ex-member Raydolphus Grant; a fundraiser concert for Brandywine Workshop; a tribute to the late "Buzzy" Wilson at The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts; a PECO Energy Jazz Festival '99 appearance at Cheyney University; a Mellon Jazz Festival '99 Big Band Dance Party at The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz; A Birthday Tribute to "Dizzy" Gillespie; Fred Johnson's Grand Gala Ball Diamond & Fur Music Extravaganza in Atlantic City, NJ; The Smithsonian Institution's Big Band Jam for J.A.M. (Jazz Appreciation Month); African-American Museum in Philadelphia's Tribute to Nina Simone; The Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Company's West Oak Lane Jazz festivals; Father's Day Big Band Jams at The Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts in Philly; The Collingswood Jazz Festival's "Jazz In The Wood;" The continuing Philadelphia Clef Club Big Band Jam Fundraisers.
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