Student group wants to bring jazz back to forefront

Jazz Lives Philadelphia aims to promote jazz.

Sarah Leonard is one of the co-founders of Jazz Lives Philadelphia. | Brian Tom TTN

A group of Temple students believes jazz should continue to nurture its roots in Philadelphia.

“We really want people to know that jazz lives,” said Sarah Leonard, a junior finance major and saxophonist.

This is why Leonard and Josh Lee, a senior jazz performance major with a saxophone concentration, formed Jazz Lives Philadelphia, a group on Main Campus that recently became an official nonprofit organization.

Leonard is the executive and co-artistic director of the group and Lee is the managing artistic co-founder.

The other co-founders of the organization are Eric Montague, a senior marketing major; Matt Campbell, a senior media studies and production major; Morgan Warner, a junior music education major with a concentration in violin and Rebecca Winkler, a junior anthropology major.

With most of these students playing their own instruments, they came together with a passion for jazz with programs planned for the upcoming spring semester and summer.

“Right now, we are all kind of  wearing many hats because we have so many things we are working toward to start our first concert series and to start our education program,” Leonard said.

Although Lee and Leonard agree talent is present in the city, they recognized their  shared passion and goals for wanting to “revive” Philadelphia’s jazz scene, Leonard said.

“We want to emphasize that there are still a lot of very talented musicians in Philly right now—our aim is also to showcase them as well,” Leonard said.

Leonard and Lee have both been involved with music their whole lives. Lee was inspired by his father who was a musician. They hope to share this love and knowledge with those who may not have had the opportunities they did by bringing educational programs into local schools.

“We fell in love with music at a young age, and that’s because we were introduced to it, but unfortunately, I think a lot of children today don’t know what jazz is,” Lee said. “So part of our mission … is to spread the knowledge of jazz—just knowing it is half the battle.”

Leonard hopes to put on a summer series of concerts at a number of different venues like First Friday events in Old City, art galleries and beer gardens. These events will aim to earn funding through donations for the organization.

“We want to try to think outside the box in terms of what’s going to get people to come out,” Leonard said. “We don’t want to limit ourselves in any way.”

Through the group’s Facebook page, word of mouth and networking, they hope to garner support from anyone willing to help out.

“We definitely hope that students can come to the concert and we can use students who play music, play jazz in our concerts,” Leonard said.

“We just really want to see a revival of the scene,” Leonard said.

Delialah Burns can be reached at

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