Sounds of the Circle

Odean Pope



Odean Pope, Coltrane Celebration, 2017. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Odean Pope, 1992 Pew Fellow. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Odean Pope, All That Philly Jazz, Jazz corridor, the golden strip. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Award-winning jazz composer and saxophonist Odean Pope will present a new evening-length suite, evoking neighborhood histories and the musical ideas of Philadelphia jazz innovators of the mid-20th-century. Pope, a 1992 Pew Fellow, will take inspiration from what he describes as the “distinctive sonic environment” of black North Philadelphia neighborhoods between the late-1940s and early-1970s, established by jazz luminaries such as John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Benny Golson, and Jymie Merritt. Pope says he intends to “weave a web of remembrance” for the place-driven creative energy and collective innovation he experienced during this period when an “inspired circle” of colleagues and mentors practiced in each other’s homes, shared schools and teachers, and honed their skills in the neighborhood’s music venues—an environment he says, that “motivated me and my generation to embrace experimental music and improvisation as a life-time endeavor.” During the work’s development process, workshops and open rehearsals throughout North Philadelphia will give audiences opportunities to experience the creative process and to connect with the role their communities have played in building Philadelphia’s jazz legacy. The resulting new composition will be performed by an ensemble of notable Philadelphia musicians, including Pope on tenor saxophone, with Gloria Galante (harp), Tom Lawton (piano), Craig McIver (drums), Diane Monroe (violin), Lee Smith (bass), and Bobby Zankel (alto saxophone).

Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.