Odean Pope Receives BNY Mellon Jazz 2017 Living Legacy Award

Saxophonist honored by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in ceremony at the Kennedy Center in DC

Odean Pope image 0
John Abbott

Odean Pope

Philadelphia-based saxophonist Odean Pope was presented with the BNY Mellon Jazz 2017 Living Legacy Award by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, in a ceremony and reception on Oct. 27 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. After the reception, attendees took in a performance by recent Living Legacy awardee Ron Carter and his trio.

Photo of Odean Pope accepting award
(l-r) Kevin Struthers, Director of Jazz Programming, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Theresa Colvin, Executive Director, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation; Susan Traver, Regional President, BNY Mellon; Honoree Odean Pope; Scott Johnson, Chair, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. (photo: Valerie Russell)

According to the press release received by JazzTimes, the award was created in 1994 “to honor jazz masters from the mid-Atlantic region who have achieved distinction in jazz performance and education.” Previous Living Legacy Award winners include Carter, Gary Bartz, Joanne Brackeen, Nathan Davis, Muhal Richard Abrams, Phil Woods, Roy Haynes, Dr. Frank Foster, Kenny Barron, Benny Golson, Oliver Lake, Rufus Reid, Randy Weston, Keter Betts, Jimmy Heath, Joe Kennedy, Jr., Shirley Scott, Reggie Workman, Dr. Donald Byrd, Larry Ridley, Barry Harris, Robert “Boysie” Lowery and Clark Terry. A Millennium Award was given to Dr. Billy Taylor in 2000.

Pope, who was born in South Carolina but raised in Philadelphia, is perhaps best known for his stint in the ’80s as a regular member of Max Roach’s groups, including his quartet with Cecil Bridgewater and Tyrone Brown. Early in his career he was a member of a seminal Philadelphia-based jazz-funk ensemble called Catalyst, along with Eddie Green, Alphonso Johnson (later replaced by Brown) and Sherman Ferguson. One of his more interesting projects has been the Saxophone Choir, formed in 1974, pulling stalwart horn players from the local Philadelphia jazz scene, but recording only infrequently. For the last 20 years, Pope recorded numerous critically-acclaimed albums for the C.I.M.P. label and a notably higher profile release for Half Note Records—Locked and Loaded: Live at the Blue Note (2006), which featured guest artist Joe Lovano.

Read Nate Chinen’s in-depth profile of saxophonist Odean Pope in JazzTimes from 2006.

Preview, buy or download songs from the album The Ponderer by Odean Pope and the Saxophone Choir on iTunes.