History of The Clef Club
The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts was founded in 1966 by James Adams and members of a black musicians union called Local #274. The union was the last independent black musicians union in the United States and proved to be crucial to the growth of a thriving jazz scene in Philadelphia. At the time, Philadelphia’s black musicians struggled for political, economic and cultural recognition. Local #274 gave black musicians representation and broke a tradition of segregation.
From Union to Social Club
The Philadelphia Clef Club was formed as Local #274′s social club. It established an unprecedented foundation for the jazz community. More than 700 black union members gained membership to the Clef Club and advanced projects to benefit jazz musicians.
Making the History of Jazz In Philadelphia
With past members like: John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Trudy Pitts, Shirley Scott, Jimmy Smith, Lee Morgan,“Philly Joe Jones”, Grover Washington Jr., William “Mr. C” Carney, The Heath Brothers, Nina Simone, and Butch Ballard.
Philadelphia’s Clef Club forms the historic backbone of the city’s jazz scene.
The Clef Club eventually became a haven for jazz lovers, who would pack the club on weekends and watch celebrities as they made their flashy entrances.
Building the Community
The Clef Club became so popular that it created a “B” membership for jazz lovers and out-of-town musicians. In 1970 it was relocated from 912 South Broad Street to 114 South 13th Street.
The Clef Club continued to function as a social club until 1978, when it expanded its activities to fulfill an important role in Philadelphia—jazz performance, jazz instruction, and the preservation of Philadelphia’s rich jazz history.
Since 1983, The Clef Club has undergone dramatic change and development.
To this day, The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts is a unique artist-founded and artist-run cultural organization in the city, committed to the promotion and preservation of jazz music. It continues to provide lessons, concerts, cultural events and valuable services to musicians and will continue to do so for years to come.