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

Mariel Bildsten | via marielbildsten.com

Ok, it’s August. You’re probably reading this either in a state of undress, as close to the most powerful A/C in your house, or in a ghost town of an office, wondering how you ended up being the sole person at work not at the Shore right now. Productivity isn’t exactly the buzzword for the month, and that includes the local jazz scene – August is more a month for enjoying some local favorites in laid-back fashion before the season kicks back into full swing next month. But don’t doze off too hard – there’s more than a few shows worth getting up from your beach chair for. Continue reading →

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

Reggie Watkins
Reggie Watkins | photo by Sienna Watkins | courtesy of the artist

The summer is traditionally a slow time for jazz in the city, though last month’s packed scheduled held off the malaise for a bit. July’s calendar is far more bare, especially in terms of touring artists – presumably everyone’s sticking close to home and obsessing over that newly unearthed John Coltrane Quartet album. But other than celebrating Independence Day while the name can still be used with a straight face, the month offers a few other chances to enjoy jazz by still-living artists. Continue reading →

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

PRISM Quartet | photo by Jacqueline Hanna

The word “community” gets thrown around a lot, but for the last 14 years, Jazz Bridge has done much to make it ring true with regards to the Philly jazz scene. In part, and for the general public, that comes through its regular concerts, which regularly bring the best local musicians to venues in neighborhoods throughout the city. Its true mission, though, happens behind the scenes, as the money raised by those events is used to help area jazz and blues musicians in need of medical and legal help. Continue reading →

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

Poet Trapeta B Mayson and Monnette playing the Sengoni | photo by Michael Donnella | courtesy of the artist
Poet Trapeta B Mayson and Monnette Sudler playing the Sengoni | photo by Michael Donnella | courtesy of the artist

Only a quarter of the way in, 2018 is shaping up to be a banner year for jazz guitar. Bill Frisell recently released a solo masterpiece with Music IS, and we’ve gotten very strong new outings by Nels Cline, Mary Halvorson, Jakob Bro and Julian Lage – not to mention impressive sideman turns by Steve Cardenas and Nate Radley (with Adam Nussbaum), Ben Monder (with Dan Weiss), Liberty Ellman (with Henry Threadgill) and Gilad Hekselman (with John Raymond), to name a few.

On the local front, you can add Mike Kennedy to that list. Continue reading →

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

David Fishkin will lead an Alice Coltrane tribute at Underground Arts this month | photo by Chris Hayner | courtesy of the artist

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and there’s no shortage of ways in which to show your appreciation in Philly over the next 30 days. The official kick-off came a couple of days early on Thursday, with Mayor Kenney presenting the Benny Golson award to bass great Jamaaladeen Tacuma at City Hall. Continue reading →

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

Regina Carter
Regina Carter | photo by Christopher Drukker | courtesy of the artist

It seems impossible these days to conduct an interview where the name Trump doesn’t come up. Whether a particular project is intended as a social statement or not, the reach of current debate is such that it seems to touch inevitably on every set of music. Drummer/composer Bobby Previte has never shied away from injecting politics into his music, so he was well primed to enter the fray in this most fraught of times. Continue reading →

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

Jumaane Smith | photo courtesy of the artist
Jumaane Smith | photo courtesy of the artist

“Roots” is a word that comes up a lot in jazz circles, but it can refer to a pretty wide variety of things: the roots and rich history of the music; personal ties to places, people, or traditions; geographical or familial roots that continue to emerge even as people move from place to place. All of those emerge in this month’s jazz calendar. Continue reading →

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

Bobby Zankel | via PhillyFunGuide

As 2017 gives way to tentative hope for a better (-ish?) New Year, there’s one last bit of misery to report before blocking that appropriately reviled year from our collective memories for good. Just one day after Christmas, singer Michelle Lordi’s Huntingdon Valley home was destroyed in a horrific fire. Michelle, her husband and three children all escaped the flames safely, but everything else was a complete loss. She was back on stage for her regular Wednesday night gig at Vintage Bar & Grill in Abington the next night, so drop by there or for Sunday jazz brunch each week at Walnut Street Café. A GoFundMe page has been set up, and Jazz Bridge is accepting tax-deductible donations to help the family recover. Continue reading →

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

Mark Guiliana
Mark Guiliana | photo by Deneka Peniston | courtesy of the artist

To some extent, I’ll forever associate David Bowie’s Blackstar with Christmas. The day after it was released was the day we dismantled our Christmas tree that year, so the iconic singer’s magisterial swan song became the soundtrack to the end of the holiday season. Of course, one day more and we’d learn the devastating news of Bowie’s death, but at least there was that brief period where we could enjoy the elusive mysteries of Blackstar without the tragic associations.

Beyond the fact of its late-career brilliance, one of the reasons I was so drawn to Blackstar was my familiarity with Bowie’s band on the album, the members of saxophonist Donny McCaslin’s stellar quartet, including drummer Mark Guiliana. Continue reading →

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

Theo Croker | via theocroker.com

Not to rub it in, but by the time you read this, I’ll be fleeing the encroaching Philly winter and enjoying the Caribbean sun and sand at the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival.  Ok, so there’s really no other reason to mention that other than to rub it in, but it seems that the rest of the Philly jazz scene this month is also looking to warmer climes for inspiration. Continue reading →