Spring Garden Music


Click on painting to enter....by jack wright, 97.5 oil on canvas, 30in.x 40in., 1997

"Spring Garden Music" began in 1982 as the name given by Jack Wright to a bunch of raucous improvisers from Philadelphia with whom he was playing. Some of these musicians lived in a house on Spring Garden Street, which the 40-year-old saxophonist (now 73) had bought as an uninhabitable shell a few years before. It became the name for the label of his first record, and then more generally for the adventure of himself and his musical partners. His playing expanded and changed as he criss-crossed North America, and also Europe, adding partners from everywhere, in performances and private sessions. After a 15-year disappearance into the wilds of Colorado (during which he studied, wrote, and painted--the above for instance), Jack returned to the East Coast in 2003, and now lives in nearby Easton PA. He travels even wider horizons, and brings back players from afar to play at the house in Philadelphia and elsewhere. He has been able to stock the house mostly with improvisers, ready to receive visitors interested in like-minded musical experiences. An earlier generation of these appeared in the Phila. City Paper: The House that Jack Built.

The current grouping consists of his regular partner Zach Darrup, guitar, and George Tillman, e-bass and drums, with Jim Strong, frequently visiting the house for sessions..Free improv in Philly has been heating up. Now on a monthly basis players from outside Philadelphia have been invited for sessions with improvisers at the Spring Garden house, along the lines of the earlier No Net weekends. Beginning in 2014 Philadelphia became the home for a large number of improvisers, looking for a cheap place to live and play. Among them are two percussionists-- Ben Bennett, a regular at the house, and Flandrew Fleisenberg. Flandrew has gathered a group of organizers, players, and dancers to put on NowHear, the first free improv festival since Spring Garden's East Coast Free Music Festivals in 1984 and 1985, as well as a joint project with Loren Groendaal, the monthly HOT series of musician/dancer collaborations. Alban Bailly, guitarist and cellist who once lived at the house, has returned to Philadelphia, with more great improvisers on the way.

The music is without known structure or mainstream visibility, bold enough to be uncomfortable with itself. This website opens the door to those who want to look in on this kind of playing and some of the thought behind it. It is another room in the house, where questions are raised about the fundamental direction of our music, and every answer provokes further questions and doubts. The site is not just for the devotees of this obscure music, but for all who love music that created in the full spirit of adventure.