Exploring the Philly Jazz Legacy on Jack McCarthy’s walking tour

Philly Jazz
The Royal Theater | photo by Jennifer Brady |

Philadelphia International Records was never particularly tied to Philly’s jazz scene. Still, historian Jack McCarthy made it a point to stop at the legendary soul label’s Broad Street home when leading tours about the city’s jazz history. In part, that’s because many local jazz musicians picked up session work there when it housed the Cameo-Parkway label. And in part, it’s simply because it was so integral to local music history.

In April, when McCarthy led his inaugural “Exploring the Philly Jazz Legacy” tour, he showed tourists the Philadelphia International Records building itself; a month later, he showed his next group a block-long hole in the ground surrounded by a chain-link fence. In coming months, he’ll be showing tourists a photo of the now-demolished building while standing in front of a new 47-story hotel and condo tower. That story is indicative of the history of Philly jazz, where so many of the music’s former homes have been erased from the ever-changing landscape.

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