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.

Continue reading →


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

Minas | Photo via
Minas | Photo via

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 →


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 →