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Scenes from the Center City Jazz Festival

Ernest Stuart at Center City Jazz Fest | Photo by John Vettese
Center City Jazz Fest founder Ernest Stuart performs at Time | Photo by John Vettese

The best Philadelphia music festival you haven’t checked out yet, Center City Jazz Festival took over the Sansom Street corridor on Saturday afternoon with 20 performers stationed at five different venues. In terms of bang for your buck, it’s an incredible deal: a $15 ticket lets you bounce from space to space, maximizing the music you take in.

If you know nothing about jazz, it’s a robust introduction to the scene – ultra-modern originals mixed with traditional standards and crossover covers of Sigur Ros, Aphex Twin and Nirvana. If you’re more versed in the jazz world, CCJF shines a light on the variety our community has to offer.
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The Key Studio Sessions: Fresh Cut Orchestra

Two and a half years ago, the three leaders of Philly’s Fresh Cut Orchestra - Josh Lawrence on trumpet, Jason Fraticelli on bass and Anwar Marshall on drums – had never so much as jammed together. They were just three players from the local jazz scene who had reputations as versatile collaborators (we first saw Lawrence sitting in with Hennessey Bonfire at a World Cafe Live gig a few years back) when they were recruited by Lenny Seidman at The Painted Bride to work together on a night of music for the Old City arts venue’s 40th anniversary.

Shaun Brady told their story in City Paper earlier this year: as much as their beginnings were the result of essentially being thrown together, the trio’s chemistry clicked, and earlier this year the FCO (now a robust ten-piece) released their excellent debut LP, From the Vine, via local imprint Ropeadope Records.

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Philly trombonist Ernest Stuart on nurturing the scene with Center City Jazz Fest

Ernest Stuart | Photo by Jauhein Sasnou | courtesy of the artist
Ernest Stuart | Photo by Jauhein Sasnou | courtesy of the artista

After growing up and studying jazz in Philadelphia, trombonist Ernest Stuart moved two hours north to make a go of it as a musician in New York City. It exposed him to a spectrum of new sounds and connected him with artists he works with to this day – including the Brooklyn-based Bhangra band Red Baraat, with whom he tours on the regular. When he returned to Philly in 2010, Sturart decided to add some of that spark the local scene. “There wasn’t much happening here jazz-wise and I grew tired of hearing myself complain about it,” he recalls. “Somehow that ended with me creating a jazz festival.” Continue reading →

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The Center City Jazz Festival announces final schedule, adds venue

Huntertones  | Photo Credit: Simon C.F. Yu | via Facebook.com/Huntertones
Huntertones | Photo Credit: Simon C.F. Yu | via Facebook.com/Huntertones

We’ve been anticipating the fourth annual Center City Jazz Festival, and the final schedule has been announced, as well as the addition of Franky Bradley’s on the schedule of venues.

On April 25 from 1 to 7 p.m., an array of jazz musicians will bring their talent to a handful of Philly spots. Catch the full schedule below, and get acquainted with some of the performers here. Continue reading →

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Get acquainted with some musicians from the upcoming Center City Jazz Festival lineup

Ernest Stuart, Founder of CCJF | via erneststuart.com
Ernest Stuart, Founder of CCJF | via erneststuart.com

The lineup for the fourth annual Center City Jazz Festival has been announced, with some Philly favorites on the list, like Ben Schachter & Re:Trio, Daud El-Bakara Sextet, Dena Underwood, Ernest Stuart, Fresh Cut Orchestra, Max Swan and the beloved West Philadelphia Orchestra.

This year’s festival is set for Saturday, April 25 (tickets). Catch the whole lineup here, and get acquainted with some of the festival’s performers below. Continue reading →

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Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Tim Warfield, Jr., and Joanna Pascale playing the Center City Jazz Festival

Steve Coleman. Photo courtesy of artist.
Steve Coleman. Photo courtesy of artist.

The Center City Jazz Festival has announced its lineup for the day long festival on Saturday, April 19th. Four venues – including Milkboy Philly, Chris’s Jazz Cafe and TIME Restaurant will host 16 bands throughout the day. Highlights this year include vocalist Joanna Pascale, tenor saxophonist Tim Warfield, Jr., and Steve Coleman and Five Elements. Coleman, from Chicago, is the founding member of the M-Base Collective, a collective of musicians and an approach to musical and creative expression. Below is the complete schedule, and a couple of free downloads from Coleman’s work with Five Elements. Go here for tickets, listen to music below and peruse the schedule after the jump.

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This weekend: The Second Annual Center City Jazz Festival ft Orrin Evans, Korey Riker, Conjunto Philadelphia and more

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 10.56.55 PM The 2nd annual Center City Jazz Festival takes place this weekend starting Friday, May 10th at the Philadelphia Art Museum with a performance from Cuban American singer-songwriter Venissa Santi. An incredibly talented Philadelphian, Santi was a 2008 Pew Fellow in Folk and Traditional Arts and is a graduate of the University of the Arts. She will perform with saxophonist and flutist Jane Bunnett, with Larry Kramer and Luis Bonilla.

Also on Saturday, there are 20+ other performances at venues including Fergie’s Pub, Milkboy Philly, Chris’s Jazz Cafe, Time Restaurant (Upstairs and Downstairs). The headlining show features pianist Orrin Evans at the Arts Bank Theater at the University of The Arts. While many of the musicians are playing at the same times, we’ve put together some suggestions for sets to check out. Continue reading →