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Philly native Stanley Clarke showcases bass virtuosity at Prince Music Theater tomorrow

Stanley Clarke | Photo courtesy of the artist
Stanley Clarke | Photo courtesy of the artist

Bassist Stanley Clarke is the rare low-end master to be equally virtuosic on acoustic and electric bass. The Philly native has worked with such legendary jazz bandleaders as Horace Silver, Art Blakey, and Dexter Gordon, while providing heavy pyrotechnics to the pioneering fusion band Return to Forever (in all of its varied incarnations) alongside his old friend, keyboardist Chick Corea.

His wide-ranging tastes and talents hardly stop there, however. Clarke has become an in-demand film score composer, with credits including Boyz n the Hood, Romeo Must Die, Soul Food, and most recently The Best Man Holiday. He’s also worked with a variety of artists from the rock world, including Jeff Beck, Ron Wood, and Police drummer Stewart Copeland, with whom he formed the band Animal Logic in the late eighties.

Clarke returns to his hometown this Saturday at the Prince Music Theater leading his trio featuring drummer Michael Mitchell and 17-year-old Georgian piano prodigy Beka Gochiashvili. For the occasion, the band will be supplemented for the first time in Philly with the Harlem Quartet. The young string ensemble specializes in music that bridges the worlds of jazz and classical, which makes them an ideal fit for Clarke’s challenging compositions.

The Stanley Clarke Trio will perform accompanied by The Harlem Quartet at the Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, Saturday January 11th at 7 p.m. Tickets and information on the all-ages show can be found here.

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Celebrate Ardmore Music Hall’s 5th anniversary with Ted Leo, The Dead Milkmen and more

Ted Leo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Ardmore Music Hall has hosted so many memorable shows that it’s hard to believe the venue has only been around for five years. This fall, they’ll celebrate in true Ardmore Music Hall style — with nine birthday shows throughout the month of September featuring an eclectic sampling of artists.

The artists in the mix range from familiar Ardmore Music Hall faces to those who will be playing the venue for the first time, with genres spanning punk, jazz, folk, reggae and more. Local indie rock favorite Ted Leo will play a solo show, pianist Holly Bowling will perform classical renditions of Grateful Dead and Phish songs, New Jersey bluegrass outfit Railroad Earth will hit the stage with a banjo in tow, local jazz virtuoso Stanley Clarke will showcase his bass skills, and Philly punk rock legends The Dead Milkmen will tear things up — and those are just a few of the performers scheduled to help Ardmore celebrate. Continue reading →

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

jazz
Uri Caine | photo courtesy of the artist

I know, I know – you’d like to click one link, read one piece about something, anything, that doesn’t mention Donald Trump. I understand completely. So I’ll make it short, because let’s face it, less than two weeks into his presidency and after an exhausting –what, eighteen months, two years? Eternity? – his administration has been the lens through which everything has to be viewed right now. As I write this, it’s been 24 hours since a crowd of 5,000 gave the President and his party a proper Philadelphia welcome, pressed up against the on-the-nose symbolism of garbage truck barriers blocking out the masses. Given Trump’s mantra of a return to lost greatness and the mood of fear/hope for to be found in that crowd and in the general response lately, thoughts of revisiting the past and reimagining the future are inevitable, and jazz is an ideal medium for that. Outside of that political context, plenty of shows this month that look simultaneously backwards and forwards.

Philly native Uri Caine has long done just that. Throughout a wide-ranging career that started out with bebop gigs with Bootsie Barnes in local clubs and grew to embrace every style of jazz from straightahead to the far edges of the avant-garde, the pianist is still best known for his inventive and eclectic transformations of classical repertoire. As part of his residency at Swarthmore College, on February 4th Caine will perform his genre-leaping interpretations of music by Mozart and Mahler, and invite equally all-embracing vocalist Theo Bleckmann to join him for songs by either Schubert or Schumann. More information here.

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Watch Thundercat perform on VuHaus, see him live at Johnny Brenda’s in October

You may have heard the name Thundercat, however if you’re unfamiliar with the work of Stephen Bruner, he’s an accomplished and talented bassist, producer and singer-songwriter. He’s worked with Flying Lotus, played bass with Erykah Badu, Wiz Khalifa, and Snoop Dogg, was a member of the Los Angeles thrash band Suicidal Tendencies, and has released several solo albums. He’s made incredible contributions to two of the best albums of 2015 – To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, and The Epic by Kamasi Washington. Continue reading →

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Who should be inducted in the Philly Music Hall of Fame?

Hall & Oates | Photo via http://www.hallandoates.de/material/Credits%20Whole%20Oats.htm
Hall & Oates | Photo by Bryant Hall | via hallandoates.de

Last week on WHYY’s Radio Times, talk show host Marty Moss-Coane gathered several folks to discuss the proposed Philadelphia Music Museum and Hall of Fame. Moss-Coane’s guests were Philly native Greg Harris, co-founder of the Philadelphia Record Exchange, and the current president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland; Dyana Williams, legendary radio personality and president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Recording Academy; and Francis Davis, jazz critic for The Village Voice. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: The past, practice and perception that make Vacationer’s perfect electro-pop

Kenny Vasoli of Vacationer | Photo via facebook.com/vacationermusic
Kenny Vasoli of Vacationer | Photo via facebook.com/vacationermusic

Residents on this quiet street in Horsham probably don’t mind the sounds coming from Kenny Vasoli’s childhood home.

Vasoli is leading practice for his electro-pop band Vacationer inside, down in his parent’s finished garage area that has been converted into a basement. Waters and beers are handed out. Guacamole and chips are set down in the corner of the room. It’s the first time the band coming together to run through their new live show – songs like “Stay,” “Go Anywhere” and “Shining” from their new album, Relief, released this week on Downtown Records.

The new tunes are quite audible from outside the house, but neighbors probably don’t mind chill serenade to their summer evening. Several years earlier there was probably much louder, angrier music coming from this house, as Vasoli started his career in popular pop-punk band The Starting Line, which formed in 1999 and disbanded in 2008, save for sporadic reunion shows and a recent tour.

Those who know Vasoli from those days may not recognize him now. His curly, chin-length hair is tucked beneath a backwards maroon Phillies cap. He’s surrounded by new band mates playing a new variety of instruments, a few of which would never be seen on stage for a punk show. But one instrument has remained through Vasoli’s time spent in both bands – his soothing, very distinct vocals.

Vacationer at SXSW 2013 | Photo by John Vettese
Vacationer at SXSW 2013 | Photo by John Vettese

“My favorite is when [fans] say, “You sound so much like that guy from The Starting Line,’” recalls guitarist Greg Altman of various Vacationer shows since the band started touring more than two years ago.

“It’s happened more times than you would think,” adds Vasoli. “What’s that Val Kilmer movie, The Saint? I’m like The Saint of emo.”

Though Vasoli’s comment definitely was not meant in the context, early 2000 Starting Line fans might have considered him a “saint” of the genre. The music Vasoli was moved to make more than 10 years later couldn’t be more different than what his admirers might have expected from him, but they and other fans have seemed to latch on to Vacationer, no questions asked.

“I’ve really started to embrace the whole emo back story thing, because at this point, I’m confident enough in the music that I make with Vacationer and we’ve sort of cemented some fans in there enough for me to be little more confident in who I was and who I am,” Vasoli says. “It’s nice, I don’t really have to compartmentalize too much anymore, or keep anything a secret anymore, because the people who are into it are into it, and the people that aren’t are just kind of waiting for another one of those records. With anything else in my life, I like not focusing on the past too much, and also not on the future.”

Living in the moment is an idea that Vacationer holds dear, and that comes out on Relief. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Wallflowers at The Trocadero, Riley Road at World Cafe Live, Chick Corea at McCarter Theater


XPN Welcomes The Wallflowers to the Trocadero tonight. The Grammy award-winning rock band are touring in support of the recent release of their sixth studio album, Glad All Over. The all-ages show starts at 8 pm, and you can find more information on our concert calendar here. Watch the video for “Reboot The Mission” from Glad All Over below.

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Your late-arriving link roundup, 1/7: Charles Fambrough, Jamaican Jerk Hut, The RIAA still sucks

Charles Fambrough Funeral Arrangements “Funeral services for Philadelphia jazz bassist and composer Charles Fambrough, who died New Year’s Day at his home in Allentown, will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion at 2010 Chestnut Street. Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and others will play at the church, and the musical tribute to the ace sideman known as “Browski” will continue afterwards at the Clef Club and Chris’ Jazz Cafe.” (In The Mix)

Jamaican Jerk Hut vs. Symphony House “There’s been a situation brewing on Broad Street – excuse me, make that the Avenue of the Arts. Amid the beautiful Kimmel Center and the welcoming Suzanne Roberts Theater, ugly has surfaced.No, I’m not talking about that towering monstrosity, Symphony House, which my colleague, architecture critic Inga Saffron, called “the ugliest new condo building in Philadelphia” when it opened three years ago. I’m talking about a different kind of ugly.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Slutever grunge out at The Bordello basement “Slutever, need I say more? The Philly girl grunge duo has received much critical acclaim in their short time on the scene. They’re really something great and even so they still keep it punk playing weeknight basement shows. The crowd went wild for their performance; even with sound difficulties (shout out to Dave Collis for assisting the duo) the two played an awesome set; ending the night on a high note; everyone exited ready to party on. Too bad there’s a noise curfew, that’s Philly house shows for you.” (Phrequency)

2000-2010: RIAA Spends +$90 Million On Lobbying “Since 2000, the RIAA has spent over $90 million in government lobbying efforts in the U.S. alone. In 2000, the record industry spent a mere $4 million, in attempt to shape the public opinion of file-sharing. By 2009, that figure rose to $17.5 million. The motion picture industry spent less than half of what the record industry in lobbying during the same period.” (Hypebot.com)