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

rick parker
Rick Parker and Li Daiguo | photo via

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 →


Network for New Music celebrates 30th anniversary with musical “Exquisite Corpse” project

Network for New Music
Network for New Music ensemble | photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou

Over the past three decades, Philly-based new music chamber ensemble Network for New Music has commissioned work by a host of notable composers, including renowned names like Alvin Curran, John Harbison, Bright Sheng, Jennifer Higdon, Toru Takemitsu, Shulamit Ran, and Todd Reynolds. So when your entire mission is dedicated to commissioning and performing music by living composers, how do you celebrate a landmark anniversary? Continue reading →


Sax player Mark Allen draws out the beauty of the baritone

Mark Allen
Mark Allen | photo by Howard Pitkow

The baritone is often treated as the red-headed stepchild of the saxophone family. It’s often viewed as a bulky, unwieldy instrument, good only for anchoring the sax section in a big band where its honking bleats can be kept under control. A few great bari players have emerged over the course of the history of jazz, but even the best known – Gerry Mulligan, Pepper Adams, Cecil Payne, Hamiet Bluiett – have failed to approach the iconic status of their smaller horn counterparts like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. Continue reading →


Philly native Jaleel Shaw to teach master class, perform at Temple’s “Jazz at the Underground”

Jaleel Shaw
Jaleel Shaw | photo courtesy of the artist

2011 was a hard year for Jaleel Shaw. His father passed away, a cousin was killed in a motorcycle accident, and some personal relationships came to an unhappy end. All of that pain is reflected through the impassioned music on his latest album, the 2013 release The Soundtrack of Things To Come. Which is to be expected for any artist who expresses themselves as personally as Shaw does – except for the fact that none of those things had happened yet when he wrote the music. Continue reading →


Reconsidering history with jazz guitarist Nir Felder

Nir Felder | Photo courtesy of the artist
Nir Felder | Photo courtesy of the artist

At the time that guitarist Nir Felder was writing the music for his debut album, the world around him seemed to be in the midst of momentous changes. It was 2011, and headlines blared news of the global financial crisis, the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. The events couldn’t help but start Felder wondering about the future – as well as the past. Continue reading →


Mikronesia provides a meditative sleep companion with Quiescent

Mikronesia | photo by MIke Ferrare

Eight hours may sound like a significant chunk of time to commit to listening to a single album, but Mikronesia’s Quiescent is specifically designed to complement an activity you’re already compelled to undertake for roughly that amount of time – namely, sleeping. The album, which Mikronesia (the solo moniker of Gemini Wolf co-founder Michael McDermott) released online earlier this month, was composed to mimic the four sleep cycles, ebbing as the listener sinks more deeply into slumber and gradually cresting again to provide a naturally evolving alarm clock. Continue reading →


Esperanza Spalding brings a spectrum of tastes to the Keswick

Esperanza Spalding | Photo courtesy of the artist
Esperanza Spalding | Photo courtesy of the artist

Bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding responded to becoming jazz’s “it girl” – she was, after all, the one artist who could nab a Best New Artist Grammy from under Justin Bieber’s tween-dream coif and win one for the jazz team – by going ambitious. On her last two albums, Chamber Music Society and Radio Music Society, Spalding folded all of her multifarious musical interests into two packed albums. Continue reading →


Rebellum bring Afrofuturism to the Painted Bride on 9/27

Rebellum | photo by Nisha Sondhe

When Greg Tate founded Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber in 1999, the amorphous ensemble was conceived as a turn-of-the-21st century evolution of the electric funk-jazz maelstrom of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, filtered through the ideas of the Black Rock Coalition (of which Tate was a co-founding member) and the explosion of hip-hop culture. The band became known for its sprawling, utterly unclassifiable group improvisations, executed under the rules of Butch Morris’ conduction system and drawing on influences from Jimi Hendrix to George Clinton to Sun Ra and who-knows-what in between.

Continue reading →


Kneebody will rival the most random iPod shuffle at World Cafe Live

Kneebody | Photos by Kim Fox

Millennial jazz will undoubtedly be looked back on as the era when the music opened up to its widest array of influences from both inside and outside the genre. Past movements from fusion to Latin Jazz have folded in diverse elements from across the spectrum, but the latest generation has blended together sounds with an eclecticism to rival the most random iPod shuffle.

No group of musicians embodies that spirit quite like Kneebody. Continue reading →