Philadelphia’s J. Michael Harrison is an institution. Not only as a man behind the mic at WRTI, but also as a sonic curator and tastemaker.
And this weekend, he’s about to curate something divine and scintillating for you and your mother on her weekend with May 9’s Mother’s Love Celebration.
Let me explain.
J. Michael is a saint when it comes to jazz’s long-winding underground, its cosmopolitan esoterica, its ardently progressive and its deeply avant-garde. The Philadelphia jazz magnate moves through that playlist, old and new, on his now 24-year-young WRTI show “The Bridge” (Mondays and Tuesday from 9 pm to midnight, and Fridays from 10 pm to 2 am), and, until COVID-19, could be found hosting live concert programs with a similar feel and vibe, often. Along with being a connector and facilitator for all things jazz in this town, JMH also acted as executive producer for my South West Philadelphia brethren Jamaaladeen Tacuma’s raucous 1999 LP, “BrotherZone,” but that is another story altogether.
Which brings me to May 9’s Mother’s Love Celebration.
Speaking of C-19 live programming, Harrison will host and curate May 9’s Mother’s Love Celebration starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday and feature new music young lions Vijay Iyer, ELEW, Nik Baertsch, and Dayramir Gonzalez.
“I’m honored to have four extraordinary and diverse pianists paying homage to the love, support, and inspiration that mothers supply us with,” said Harrison before confessing that his mother, like mine, had passed away within the last several years.
“ELEW was actually born on Mother’ Day,” he said. “Vijay is an old friend, and it’s amazing to watch his ascension.”
The ACT4MUSIC Festival, of which Harrison’s Mother’s Love event is a part, is a “massive undertaking,” said Harrison. “It enlists the efforts of curators around the world, including several from Philly. Anthony Tidd is one of the organizers. The whole of the festival launched 4/20/2020 at 4:20 pm. It is running six days a week and is scheduled to go for 8 weeks. Each day features four 30-minute, pre-recorded mini-concerts. These performances will live on the site for the duration of the ACT4MUSIC festival. Plus, it is pay-what-you-like, with a $3 minimum.” J. Michael added, “This is definitely dedicated to my mother’s loving spirit, and her natural ability to make children feel good about themselves.”
You can go visit ACT4MUSIC to access J. Michael’s mom fest, as well as hunt and peck around to see and hear what additional bracing jazz these cats are curating, then sending out to the world, with love.
And kiss your mother for me.