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As Intimate As You Can Get: Brandi Carlile plays the Perelman Theater unplugged and un-amped

Brandi Carlile | Photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.tumblr.com
Brandi Carlile | Photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.tumblr.com

Brandi Carlile’s performance at the Kimmel Center this Saturday was nothing short of inspirational.

Performing with her band and a string trio on the beautifully conceived “Pin Drop Tour”, Carlile et al. unplugged and dispensed with amplification, opting instead to trust in the theater’s beautiful acoustics and their own power to sustain us for the evening. It was an intimate distillation as embracing and as warming as any spirit, and with much more soul than I had prepared for. Continue reading →

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Calle 13 make Philly debut (and history) this Saturday at the Merriam Theater, and we all should be paying attention

Calle 13 | Photo courtesy of Kimmel Center Presents
Calle 13 | Photo courtesy of Kimmel Center Presents

With more than enough English-language music flooding American airwaves to make even the most eclectic music-lover’s heads spin, a group like Puerto Rico’s Calle 13 might easily fall under the radar. Maybe you were lucky enough to hear their eccentric mid-2000s breakout hits “Atréve te-te” and “La Jirafa” at a college- or work-sponsored Latin music night and thought “Hey, this is a pretty cool beat,” before shimmying your hips off-rhythm for the next few hours. Continue reading →

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Tori Amos dazzles Verizon Hall with a career-spanning set

Tori Amos
Tori Amos | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

On Sunday night, Tori Amos took Broad Street by storm. At the nearly sold-out Verizon Hall, Amos, armed only with her Bosendorfer piano, a keyboard and an organ, unlocked her musical treasure-trove for a stirring 20-song set.

Theoretically touring behind her 2014 album Unrepentant Geraldines (she only played two tracks from the album), Amos dug deep into her catalog and her diverse musical interests. Continue reading →

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Prog rock icons King Crimson return to Kimmel Center in September

via facebook.com/KingCrimson-RobertFripps
via facebook.com/KingCrimson-RobertFripps

King Crimson, a giant in the field of prog rock, is set to return to the Kimmel Center to play a two night concert September 12th and 13th. Though the band initially formed in 1969, it has gone through several new members and now features Gavin Harrison (drums), Bill Rieflin (drums), Pat Mastelotto (drums), Tony Levin (bass and vocals), Mel Collins (Sax, flute), Jakko Jakszyk (guitar, vocals) and Robert Fripp (guitar).

This will be the band’s first tour since 2008. In recent years, the band has reissued classic albums Starless and Bible Black as well as Discipline as a part of their 40th anniversary series. Their thirteenth studio album, The Power to Believe was released in 2003. In his DGM Diary, Robert Fripp says, “This is a very different reformation to what has gone before: seven players, four English and three American, with three drummers.”

No doubt, this latest rendition of the band will continue the great work of King Crimson. Watch the moving video for their 1969 classic “Epitaph” below. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 am. Get more details here. 

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Philly trombonist Jeff Bradshaw talks about orchestrating Home, an all-star live album recording at the Kimmel on Wednesday

Jeff Bradshaw | photo courtesy of the artist
Jeff Bradshaw | photo courtesy of the artist

When I called him last week, Jeff Bradshaw was taking a rare moment’s rest, sitting on the sidewalk outside of his favorite cigar shop in Chestnut Hill. It was a momentary respite at best between corralling, at his count, a 19-piece band, 14 guest artists, 18 flights, and 24 hotel rooms to make his dream project happen: a live recording Wednesday night at the Kimmel Center which will become the trombonist’s third album, Home.

“To do something amazing takes that kind of preparation and work,” Bradshaw says. “It’s a lot of moving parts.”

Those parts will come together on Wednesday, Bradshaw promises, to conjure a number of what he calls “Oh no he didn’t moments.” He’s ensuring those moments happen by augmenting his usual horn-heavy ensemble with a ten-piece string section bringing together members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and other chamber ensembles from the city, and by assembling an array of all-star guests that includes R&B/smooth jazz singer-songwriter Will Downing; a cappella gospel sextet Take 6; Grammy-winning keyboardist Robert Glasper; New Orleans rising star Trombone Shorty; ex-Floetry singer-songwriter Marsha Ambrosius; gospel singer Kim Burrell; and smooth jazz saxophonist Najee, among others.

“It’s going to be a once in a lifetime event,” Bradshaw says. “The top ticket price is $100, and there’s no way you can see all of these artists on one stage in one night and pay 100 dollars. At the high end that’s still a great value.”

After releasing two studio albums – his 2003 debut Bone Deep and the 2012 follow-up Bone Appetit – Bradshaw calls Home his “coming out of sorts.” Bradshaw is a gifted instrumentalist and born showman who combines influences from gospel, soul, and jazz and has toured the world with superstar acts including Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Kirk Franklin, John Legend, The Roots and Earth Wind and Fire. But he’s less known outside of his hometown as a bandleader, so wants to capture his sound at its best: in the live setting. Continue reading →

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Review: The Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia brings the community together for a gala fundraiser at The Kimmel

Photo by Jennifer Brady | www.behance.net/JennBrady
Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia | Photo by Jennifer Brady | www.behance.net/JennBrady

Trumpeter Terell Stafford and director Deena Adler founded the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia last year with a mission of celebrating the city’s rich jazz heritage. That couldn’t have been more evident at the Philly-centric big band’s gala fundraising concert at the Kimmel Center on Tuesday, which hosted some of the city’s finest talents playing music by some of its favorite sons.

The concert in Verizon Hall began in high spirits as Stafford bantered with emcee (and lifelong jazz booster) Bill Cosby, who arrived sporting a Temple sweatshirt. After a rambling introduction during which he name-dropped venues and DJs and musicians from the city’s past, Cosby taunted guitarist Greg Kettinger to play a bit of the band’s opening number, McCoy Tyner’s “Passion Dance.” After a bit of schtick with Kettinger and the bandleader (Stafford: “He’s got a capo.” Cosby: “What’s wrong with his pants?”), the legendary comedian led the audience in a humalong of the tune. Acknowledging the sold-out crowd, Cosby encouraged Stafford to keep going here at home, discouraging the mention of a Carnegie Hall concert by saying, “Don’t go on the road. Let them come here.”

Photo by Jennifer Brady | www.behance.net/JennBrady
Terell Stafford | Photo by Jennifer Brady | www.behance.net/JennBrady

That riotous introduction necessitated a lively follow-up, and the 17-piece ensemble delivered with a spirited arrangement of “Passion Dance” propelled by Chris Beck’s combustible rhythms. Longtime Stafford compatriot Tim Warfield Jr. stated the sultry melody of Benny Golson’s “Along Came Betty” in a short quartet intro before the full band entered, while UArts instructor Chris Farr turned in a graceful tenor solo on a lush rendition of John Coltrane’s ballad “Central Park West.” The chair of instrumental studies at Temple, Stafford pointed out that members of both schools’ faculty in one band is evidence of the city’s jazz community “coming together for the betterment of music in Philadelphia.” Continue reading →

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The Philadelphia Orchestra sticks around town for a pop-up show tonight

philadelphia-orchestra-yannick-600The Philadelphia Orchestra refuses to let the night be ruined after an unexpected cancellation of tonight’s “Pops Up” New York performance for the Carnegie Hall Opening Night concert. Instead, music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the rest of the ensemble will stick around for an unscheduled appearance at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. The free, nonchalant event starts at 6:30 tonight with general admission seating. Come early to Commonwealth Plaza to participate in a “Conduct the PO” pre-concert event beginning at 5:30 p.m., where concert-goers can try their hand at conducting select musicians of the Orchestra. Yannick and some of the musicians will also be autographing the new Deutsche Grammophon CD of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Details can be found at philorch.org. Below, watch another pop-up concert the orchestra perfomed this year – mid-flight from Beijing to Macao on their tour of China.

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Photos: Patty Griffin at The Kimmel Center

Folk-Americana singer-songwriter Patty Griffin performed on Thursday night to a crowd at the Kimmel Center. Her seventh LP, American Kid, was released last month on New West Records. Check out photos from the show in the gallery above. This week Griffin was David Dye’s guest on the World Cafe; listen to the session here.

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Just Announced: Patty Griffin to perform at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall on 6/6

patty

Touring in support of her seventh studio album American Kid, Patty Griffin has announced a show at the Kimmel Center‘s Verizon Hall on June 6th.  The Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter pays tribute to her late father on the new album, following up 2010′s Downtown Church with biographical tales of birthday parties, World War II and family experiences.  American Kid will be released May 7th through New West Records.  Tickets for the summer show go on sale Friday, May 3rd at 10AM – more information will be available here.  Below, watch the official video for Griffin’s song “Ohio” featuring Robert Plant.

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Madeleine Peyroux Performs at the Kimmel Center for special Free at Noon

As the kick off to the 2013 Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, acclaimed jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux preformed a special set to a packed audience at the Kimmel Center this afternoon. Check out the photo gallery above and the set list below, and listen to Peyroux’s performance here (via the WXPN media player) For more information about PIFA, click here. Continue reading →