Philadelphia bassist Jymie Merritt's place on the historical register of jazz was cemented by his work with major players like Art Blakey, Max Roach and Lee Morgan. But there's a lot more music for which he hasn't received due credit: notably, his own. Starting in the 1960s, he began developing a personal system of polyrhythms and harmonies called Forerunner, and a working ensemble called The Forerunners to match. The music is rich in mathematical complexity, but it left a mark on many Philadelphians, including saxophonist Odean Pope and his son, Mike Merritt (now the bassist in Conan O'Brien's late-night band). Now, Mike has taken up the mantle and reassembled the band to finally record his father's music.
Jazz Night In America goes to Philly to meet Jymie Merritt and see The Forerunners live in concert, as presented by WXPN, WRTI and the Philadelphia Jazz Project at World Cafe Live.