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Paul Jost will put a jazz spin on Bruce Springsteen for the Exit 0 Festival

Paul Jost | Photo by Paul Dempsey
Paul Jost | Photo by Paul Dempsey

Under normal circumstances, a jazz festival might not seem like the most appropriate occasion to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a Bruce Springsteen album. But the Exit 0 Jazz Festival happens in New Jersey, and in New Jersey Bruce Springsteen is right for every occasion. And the album in question is Born To Run, which essentially qualifies as an extra gospel in the state.

So on May 29, South Jersey-based vocalist Paul Jost will perform his jazz reimagining of Born To Run in Cape May Convention Hall as the headlining event of the first night of this year’s Exit 0 Festival. Jersey or not, in Jost’s hands the music of the Boss’ most iconic album will actually sound like jazz. Continue reading →

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Hybrid Theory: Vijay Iyer Trio blends traditional Indian sounds with jazz this Saturday at Swarthmore

Vijay Iyer | via Facebook.com/vijayiyermusic
Vijay Iyer | via Facebook.com/vijayiyermusic

Break Stuff, the title of the latest album by the Vijay Iyer Trio, carries an anarchic connotation that might seem at odds with the taut, deeply collaborative music contained within. But taken in a more focused sense, those two words do capture the sense with which the pianist and his triomates­ bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore ­dismantle and deconstruct the basic elements of jazz to create their own unique and revolutionary sound. There is no more traditional setting in jazz than the piano trio, yet nothing this band does seems beholden to the past. Continue reading →

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Berks Jazz Fest celebrates 25 years with Gerald Veasley, Billy Cobham and more

Berks Jazz Fest
Gerald Veasley | photo via www.eddiebaccusjrmusic.com

The Berks Jazz Fest began life in 1990 as a way to bring visitors to the Reading area for something other than outlet shopping. In the 25 years since it’s taken on a life of its own, becoming a highlight of the region’s cultural calendar each spring. While the festival’s tastes run toward the smoother side of the jazz spectrum, the ten-day fête habitually boasts an eclectic and diverse line-up. Below are a few highlights from this year’s more straightahead offerings during its April 10-19 run. Continue reading →

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Bobby Zankel revives Warriors of the Wonderful Sound for a residency at The Painted Bride and Clef Club

Bobby Zankel's Warriors of the Wonderful Sound | Photo courtesy of the artist
Bobby Zankel’s Warriors of the Wonderful Sound | Photo courtesy of the artist

When Bobby Zankel ended his decade-long run of monthly performances at Tritone in 2011 (mere months before the South Street club itself went to a better place), the future of the saxophonist’s adventurous Warriors of the Wonderful Sound big band was unclear. The following year brought the first reinvention of the band through a series of commissioned compositions from jazz greats Muhal Richard Abrams, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Steve Coleman.

A more radical reinvention came in 2013, when Zankel scaled down the band to a ten-piece and almost completely overhauled its membership. “The original band had run its course,” Zankel shrugs now. In its first two years the new Warriors maintained its vitality while making fewer appearances, though the more sporadic shows always made an impact: its unveiling at the 2013 Philadelphia United Jazz Festival; an inventive and surprising collaboration with hip-hop choreographer Raphael Xavier and Cuban-born percussionist François Zayas as part of the Kimmel Center’s inaugural Jazz Residency program; a tribute to “New Thing” pioneers Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and Sun Ra in a powerhouse double-bill with the Sun Ra Arkestra at the Painted Bride. Continue reading →

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Sonic Liberation 8 will re-imagine loft jazz and chamber music at The Rotunda

Sonic Liberation Front | Photo courtesy of the artist
Sonic Liberation Front | Photo courtesy of the artist

Living in New York City between 1976 and 1985, Kevin Diehl found himself in the midst of the fertile loft jazz scene. During that now-legendary period, some of the most influential and forward-thinking musicians of the last half-century gathered together in Soho, forging a new sound building on the 1960s avant-garde and asserting their independence from major record labels and nightclubs. They were a group fueled by the communitarian spirit of organizations like Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and St. Louis’ Black Artists Group (BAG).

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Expanding the vocabulary of the bass with Julie Slick and Marco Machera

Julie Slick and Marco Machera | photo via facebook.com/slickmachera
Julie Slick and Marco Machera | photo via facebook.com/slickmachera

Maybe it’s something in the genes, but the two greatest success stories to come out of the Paul Green School of Rock have been siblings Eric and Julie Slick. Both caught the ear of Adrian Belew when the former Zappa and King Crimson guitarist/vocalist stopped into the school to teach in 2006, and went on to form the core of his Power Trio. Drummer Eric left in 2009 and landed in a number of Philly bands including Dr. Dog and Norwegian Arms, but bassist Julie has continued to orbit King Crimson in the years since.

In 2011 she attended the “3 of a Perfect Pair Camp” organized by Belew and Crimson-mates Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto and went on to tour with the three (as well as new Belew Power Trio drummer Tobias Ralph) as the Crimson ProjeKCt, the latest iteration of Crimson’s spin-off incarnation.

While at the camp Julie also met Italian bassist Marco Machera, forming a duo around the pair’s shared interest in expanding the vocabulary of the bass. Continue reading →

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Travis Laplante brings Battle Trance quartet to The Rotunda tomorrow

Travis Laplante
Travis Laplante | photo by Adi Nachman

There’s something about the saxophone that seems to push its practitioners, more than any other single group of instrumentalists, to test sonic limits. Travis Laplante is undoubtedly part of that tradition. His solo work utilizes an arsenal of extended techniques to make his one horn sound like a battery of instruments, while he and altoist Darius Jones explore extremes of volume and breath in the quartet Little Women.

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Minas celebrates the anniversary of a bossa nova classic at World Cafe Live

Minas | Photo via minasmusic.com
Minas | Photo via minasmusic.com

If Getz/Gilberto didn’t start the fire of the bossa nova craze in the United States, it was the fuel that turned the spark into an inferno. Fifty years ago, saxophonist Stan Getz teamed with Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto for the west coast jazzman’s fourth excursion into Brazilian music. Though he didn’t share equal billing in the title with those two headliners, perhaps the most important collaborator on the album was composer/pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim, who contributed six of the eight songs on the album. Among them were such soon-to-be classics and standards of both the jazz and bossa nova genres as “Desafinado” and “Corcovado.”

But most iconic of all was “The Girl From Ipanema,” with its affectless vocals by Astrud Gilberto, João’s wife, a perfect match for the cool jazz-meets-Brazil vibe of the song. The Philly-based Brazilian jazz quintet Minas is celebrating the song’s landmark anniversary with their own version of “The Girl From Ipanema,” the first single from their forthcoming album, Symphony in Bossa. Continue reading →

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Rick Parker and Li Daiguo bring global jazz to The First Banana

rick parker
Rick Parker and Li Daiguo | photo via www.facebook.com

Accompanying his wife, a Pace University communications professor researching youth culture in China, to Shanghai over the past decade, trombonist Rick Parker initially looked forward to the cultural exchange possible in the world’s most populous city. But over the course of several visits he found himself frustrated by the lack of local artists on the scene. Continue reading →