A weekend festival of blues and swinging dance jazz is scheduled for Philly on Feb. 20 through Feb. 22.
This February marks LaBLove’s 8th festival celebrating the “Lindy hop,” a partner dance that sprung about in NYC in the roaring ’20s into the 1930s.
Philadelphia via Baltimore hiphop artist Spank Rock (aka Naeem Juwan) will be playing Underground Arts this Saturday. Last year, Spank Rock teamed up with longtime collaborator Amanda Black for their club track “We Can Go All Night”. He also played alongside the Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra and Sharon Van Etten at the Rail Park Benefit at Union Transfer. He recently released another single, “Gully” which promptly got remixed by Brodinski. In addition he made a mixtape for Jump Philly with DJ Sylo. Listen to the remix of “Gully” below. Get more details about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Several weeks ago we did a Key Studio Session with the Philly jazzy swing band Chelsea Reed & The Fairweather Five. Chelsea and the band draw on influences including Bessie Smith, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. Writing about the session, The Key’s John Vettese said:
The Fairweather Five has become one of the more recognizable young players in Philly’s ever-evolving jazz scene. The combo digs into standards and classics from the early 20th century (“Basin Street Blues” dates to 1917) and recasts this century-old music for today’s ears. That doesn’t mean they put some sort of “modern twist” on the music, though. Listening to the band perform, they play it like a jazz band of old would – a vocal theme at the beginning, a string of impressive solos swapped between all the players, and a return to the theme at the end. Reed and her bandmates – trumpet player Noah Hocker, saxophoneist Chris Oatts, guitarist Jake Kelberman on guitar, bassist Joe Plowman and drummer Austin Wagner – are not a pop singer-songwriter outfit with jazz leanings; rather, they’re jazz musicians with a great singer in the mix.
Below, download “the Devil’s Gonna Getcha” from the session. They play Chris’ Jazz Cafe on Saturday, July 5th.
It’s a retro Key Studio Session this week courtesy of Chelsea Reed and the Fairweather Five. The local group performs jazz and blues standards with nostalgic authenticity, passing off instrumental solos between the brass and string players with Reed’s gently confident voice gliding through. Take a listen to “Basin Street Blues” below and get the full set here.
Philly born, Brooklyn based project Gracie released a new single called “Spilt Milk.” It’s the first recording with a new live band for frontman Andrew Balasia, who blended his signature pop synths with the depth of live instrumentation on this eighties-influenced track. Stream and download it below.
If it wasn’t for encouragement from Carsie Blanton – an XPN local fave who relocated to New Orleans a few years back – the breezy jazz of Chelsea Reed and the Fairweather Five might have never seen the light of day. Blanton heard Reed singing and, struck by her smooth and classic style, told her she needed to start performing for swing dancers. Flash forward two years and The Fairweather Five has become one of the more recognizable young players in Philly’s ever-evolving jazz scene. The combo digs into standards and classics from the early 20th century (“Basin Street Blues” dates to 1917) and recasts this century-old music for today’s ears. That doesn’t mean they put some sort of “modern twist” on the music, though. Listening to the band perform, they play it like a jazz band of old would – a vocal theme at the beginning, a string of impressive solos swapped between all the players, and a return to the theme at the end. Reed and her bandmates – trumpet player Noah Hocker, saxophoneist Chris Oatts, guitarist Jake Kelberman on guitar, bassist Joe Plowman and drummer Austin Wagner – are not a pop singer-songwriter outfit with jazz leanings; rather, they’re jazz musicians with a great singer in the mix. Half of the band are full time musicians, or musician-teachers; the rest are finishing up studies at Temple’s Esther Boyer College of Music – though Reed cringes a little at the notion that people will see them, primarily, as “a college band.” But they won’t; you can hear the dedication to their craft and to their band as a unit in the songs performed live for us in this week’s Key Studio Session. Stream and download the set below, and catch the band at any of their numerous local performances in Philly this summer – they play late sets at Chris’ Jazz Cafe on June 14th and July 5th, and will open for Blanton at Ardmore Music Hall on July 19th.
Pete Souders owned Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus for 20 years, but learned in January that the establishment he built a reputation for would no longer be needing his services. His Tuesday Night Jazz Jam Session was canceled.
But, he can’t say he didn’t expect it.
After growing exhausted of the hectic lifestyle of running a night spot and music venue, Souders sold Ortlieb’s in 2007, and after a bouncing around of owners, it was purchased by Four Corners Productions.
“I decided to sell it because I thought I was really getting tired,” Souders said.
Under its newest ownership, Ortlieb’s has shifted gears from its once-smooth atmosphere to a place of socialization, drinks and indie rock. It’s also dropped the “Jazzhaus” portion of its name.
The newest owners asked Souders to come in to host his Jazz Night upon opening, but Souders said he saw major flaws from the get-go.
When he owned Ortlieb’s, Souders said a large, acoustic piano sat center-stage which amplified the room, but once the newest owners came in, they hired a engineer who wired various mics for the jazz performances taking over the piano, which Souders said he thought was “unnecessary.”
Real jazz, Souders said, is able to fill an entire room without the need of any additional equipment.
But then again, Ortlieb’s is now hosting more than jazz performances, necessitating a more involved setup.
But Souders said he saw more concerns than just the equipment. Right before Christmas, the owners told him they “weren’t making any money during the first hour-and-a-half.” They also asked his to cut the session back from its 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. slot so it wrapped up by 11:30 p.m. The owners told him they “weren’t making any money during the first hour-and-a-half,” Souders said.
He said that the new owners at Ortlieb’s told him they wanted to attract a better bar crowd at midnight, and Souders’ smooth tunes weren’t cutting it. It boiled down to a business issue.
“I had mixed emotions,” Souders said. “…[the situation] was anticlimactic.”
The current owners declined multiple requests for interviews.
So is the the current state of Ortlieb’s and what happened to its long-standing tradition a reflection for what might happen across the city’s jazz community? Continue reading →
Rhythm Sessions – a Lindy and Blues event and West Philadelphia’s monthly jam for jazz dance, jazz music, and jazz fans – is happening again this Sunday, April 13 at Studio 34 on Baltimore Ave. in West Philly.
The event, which is typically the third Sunday of every month, has been moved up due to the Easter holiday, and this weekend’s session features music by Philly jazz band Chelsea Reed and the Fairweather Five. If you haven’t experienced Chelsea Reed live before, it is nothing short of an experience, knocking you back to the Bessie Smith era of the 1920’s and 30’s in the most authentic fashion.
With the cozy ambiance of Studio 34, the high energy tunes of Chelsea Reed and a BYOF policy (bring your own food), the all ages event is perfect for friends, family, and the like. No ticket is required to attend, just a donation suggestion of $10, but that’s up to you. Get more information on the event here. Watch Chelsea Reed and the Fairweather Five perform their own rendition of “Everybody Loves My Baby” below.