Reggie Workman Reminiscences
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"The first significant music I remember hearing was music on the jukebox at my father's restaurant at 54th and Haverford. We had, the family had a restaurant there that had all of the current music. That meant all the rhythm and blues, and all of the Billy Eckstine, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Bessie Smith and all of the, Wynonie Harris and you name it. Everything that today is considered significant and historic was on that jukebox as something that people that came in there and eat their lunch and dinner heard every day. Then when we were midgets sitting around the floor together at home there were all kinds of radio things that happened on that big old classic radio that we listened to. All kinds of radio tracks and things that stuck in our minds. For example Nat King Cole came on every Saturday afternoon or morning with his trio.

And I remember being very small, hardly walking and listening to that. Very, very, very, very important music. And Thelonious Monk's "Ask Me Now, [Workman singing is added here] when I first heard Monk play that, immediately it came right to me because of the whole family scene, the whole situation that was happening then and the whole social, political situation that happened around the theme of that song and the commercials and the radio, the way the story was done every week and your families looked forward to hearing that.

I'm from a big family. There were 15 of us and I was born in Philadelphia in '37 and I think by the time I was born we had already moved to West Philadelphia and we lived around Philadelphia. My father was from North Carolina, Charlottesville, North Carolina and my mother was from somewhere in Maryland and she was raised in an orphanage, which as I look back on the situation, I say "Mom, maybe that's why you had so many kids because you were an orphan, and you were an only child."

So before I left Philadelphia, we were living in Brickyard, which is Germantown. That was 1500 North.

I believe during '49 when my brother was coming out of this school and going to the Army, I was moving through junior high school, Roosevelt Junior High School and Germantown High School along with a lot of people who you probably know like Archie Shepp. Nearby Bill Cosby who lived down the street, across the Eastside, who was on the sports teams, while Archie and I were on the musical teams. The Adderly Brothers who were on the sports teams. Jimmy McGriff and his younger brother and family.

And when you listen to all this music and I hope that you do listen to this music, you can see what the community was like and what people are talking about when they come up with their art, which is again, a reflection, a direct reflection of what we went through as we grew here in Philadelphia, grew through these things. You can somehow have an idea of what was going on, what the city was like...
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