Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in September

Minas performs at SOUTH this month | photo via

After a slow August (well, slow for live jazz, less so for life in general, but let’s not get into that), September makes up for lost time with a hectic schedule overlapped by competing festivals – both Fringe and Opera Philly’s calendars have plenty of venturesome programming sure to entice the same crowds (modestly speaking) who haunt the city’s jazz venues. This month’s picks feature a feast for jazz guitar fanatics, exciting shows by both veterans and innovators, and is bookended by very different approaches to celebrating the Brazilian influence in jazz.

Chris’ Jazz Café celebrates its annual anniversary weekend this year by bringing back a favorite son who spent many a formative night in the club. Kurt Rosenwinkel has long since outgrown those humble beginnings, but he returns on a fairly regular basis. The weekend of Sept. 8-9 will mark his second appearance at Chris’ with his Caipi Band, a new group that folds Brazilian influences into Kurt’s modern jazz and singer-songwriter modes. Another celebration takes place a week later on the 16th, as local legends Bootsie Barnes and Larry McKenna share the stage to celebrate their mutual 80th birthday year. (TIX / INFO)

The fact that Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah wears Air Jordans and listens to hip-hop may not be as much of a novelty as GQ seems to think, but the mere fact that the fashion mag took notice of his music proves that the trumpeter is on to something. Scott is releasing a trilogy of EPs this year that exemplify what he calls “Stretch Music,” an integration of jazz, trap music, and the varied traditions that took hold in his native New Orleans. The releases are also proving timely, directly addressing a number of social issues, from the prison industrial complex to his own run-ins with the notorious New Orleans police. Read more in Scott’s interview with The Key’s John Morrison, and expect the confrontational when Scott arrives at World Café Live on Sept. 10. (TIX / INFO)

Keep your fingers crossed for Mike Stern. The renowned fusion guitarist and ‘80s Miles sideman was last scheduled to play Philly almost exactly a year ago, as part of the trio Power of 3 with saxophonist Steve Wilson and bassist Harvie S. That never happened, though, as Stern tripped over construction debris outside his Manhattan apartment last July while hailing a cab, breaking both his arms and suffering extensive nerve damage in his right hand. One year and a couple of surgeries later, Stern is back with a new all-star album, Trip, and another try at a Philly gig – this time at Ardmore Music Hall with his own band – featuring Philly native Randy Brecker, bassist Tom Kennedy, and longtime P-Funk (and everybody else) drummer Dennis Chambers – on September 11. Stern now has to literally glue his pick to his fingers in order to play, so what’s your excuse for not showing up? (TIX / INFO)

Matt Yaple’s invite-only @exuberance series (Want an invite? Shoot Matt an email) continues the same night with the unique pairing of two Philly jazz workhorses. Saxophonist Victor North is an untiring presence on the scene, from his years leading jam sessions at Chris’ Jazz Café to his salute to nuptial and musical bliss with singer Meg Clifton, The Norths. He’ll be joined by pianist Farid Barron, whose versatility is the exemplified by two acclaimed big bands with which he’s served tenures – Wynton Marsalis’ conservative Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and the cosmically-oriented Sun Ra Arkestra, where he took over the piano bench from the late (or at least departed) Saturnian bandleader. (RSVP / INFO)

Ars Nova Workshop has created quite the dilemma on Sept. 16. They’re launching a new series at the Ardmore Music Hall, featuring artists whose blend of adventurous jazz and rock influences fit into the Venn diagram overlap of the presenter and the venue, with guitar great Bill Frisell’s new quartet Harmony, which features three regular collaborators: vocalist Petra Haden, cellist Hank Roberts, and bassist Luke Bergman. Meanwhile, in Center City at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, they’re also hosting the Tom Rainey Trio, led by the expansive drummer and featuring two of modern jazz’s most inventive: guitarist Mary Halvorson and saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock. It’s a tough call, and I’ll likely change my mind a couple of dozen times in the next two weeks. (TIX / INFO)

Bossa Nova had already become a sensation via the collaborations between Stan Getz, Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto when Sergio Mendes arrived on the Stateside scene, but under the guiding hand of Herb Alpert the Brazilian bandleader brought the music firmly into the contemporary mainstream. With Brasil ’66 and its ubiquitous hit “Mas Que Nada,” Mendes fused Brazilian jazz and Bossa with Mod pop sounds and bright, brassy funk. A half-century later, Philly’s own Brazilian-jazz mainstays Minas pay tribute to Mendes and Brasil ’66, performing the original arrangements that proved an early influence on their own music. They’ll be at South Kitchen & Jazz Parlor on Sept. 29 and 30. (TIX / INFO)



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