‘A Musical Journey Through the Byways of Life’: An Interview with Alfie Pollitt

Introduction: Alfie’s Portrait of Philadelphia

Alfie Pollitt, the Philadelphia jazz and R&B musician, took part in forging the history of Philadelphia and black America by immersing himself in its deep traditions…

All of this took place amidst a pivotal moment in American history, where the awakening of black Americans was shaking the foundations of white civilization by confronting the most evil forces of racism in society.

Part 1: Bryn Mawr and The Beginnings (1943-1960s)

“So, this is medicine. This is a ministry, you know, good medicine. Hopefully, you know, it will work good for, beneficial for folk who view and read the outcome.”

Part 2: Spiritual Pilgrimage to Philadelphia (1960s)

“Many times we saw Coltrane play. It was like going to church, you know? It was like a spiritual, you know, pilgrimage, you know.”

Part 3: Temple #12, The Top of the Clock (1969-1974)

“I consider myself blessed. And it helped me become a better person and grow from childhood into manhood, even more so as a positive move. And I’m grateful.”

Part 4: Livin’ Out of a Suitcase (1974-1981)

“We were like a family. We were like, you know, we were part of Teddy’s kind, you know. Teddy cultivated our drummer, James Carter, into one of the greatest drummers in R&B, you know, and the band was so hot, we were known throughout the circuit, you know.”

Part 5: Where Do We Go From Here: The Ouch Band, Some of This and Some of That (1982-1990s)

“I guess it’s a part of my DNA, music, you know. I mean, as one of the things I knew how to do: do music, do songwriting, dance, research, play music. You know, it kept me going.”

Part 6: Peace Mission, the Uptown Theater, and the Unity Community (1990s – 2020)

“The media has so much stuff done to people and people is all messed up, the whole planet is all messed up,  the ecology is all messed up. So whoever is like-minded who is down for unifying, great. It might be just a handful of people.”