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

Photo by Jennifer Brady |
Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia | Photo by Jennifer Brady |

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 |
Terell Stafford | Photo by Jennifer Brady |

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 →


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 Below, watch another pop-up concert the orchestra perfomed this year – mid-flight from Beijing to Macao on their tour of China.


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.


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


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.


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 →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Conor Oberst at Kimmel Center, Erin McKeown at Tin Angel, Trail of Dead at Johnny Brenda’s, Concert for Haiti at Arden Gild Hall

Former Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst will be playing tonight at the Kimmel Center in support of his 2012 release of One Of My Kind, his first record with the Mystic Valley Band. The six-piece collective wrote the album while on tour supporting Oberst’s 2008 self-titled record . The album remains true to the confessional folk rock style Oberst has become known for. Tickets for tonight’s 8 o’clock show are available here; below watch Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band perform “Nikorette” from 2008′s Conor Oberst below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Carsie Blanton at MilkBoy, Dead Can Dance at the Kimmel Center, Mischief Brew at the Barbary and Beta Hi-Fi Finals at World Cafe Live

XPN welcomes local singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton to MilkBoy Philly tonight with South Carolina band Shovels & Rope. Doors open at 7 p.m. and show show starts at 8. Tickets for the 21+ show are available here for $15. You can watch her Key Session below.

London-based world music/fusion duo Dead Can Dance gained world-wide success when their 1996 album Spiritchaser reached number one on the Billboard Top World Music Albums Chart. After calling it quits in 1998 and a short reunion in 2005, the band recently re-formed and released their eighth studio album Anastasis earlier this month. The pair will be bringing their ambient vibes to Philly tonight for a show at the Kimmel Center as part of their reunion world tour. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available here for $44.50. Download the title track from Dead Can Dance’s new album for free below.

Local DIY punk band Mischief Brew will be rocking the Barbary tonight with fellow Philly punk rock bands The Adults and Dead People Screaming. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 6:30. Tickets are available here for $10. Listen to Mischief Brew’s song “Drinking Song for the Home Stretch” below.

And finally, after a week full of free shows from emerging local artists, the Philadelphia Beta Hi-Fi Emerging Music Festival concludes upstairs at World Café Live tonight. The top bands of the week will be performing starting at 7 p.m. and at the end of the night the winners of the festival will be announced. Stop by to see free performances by the best-of-the best of the festival’s artists and say “hi” to The Key editor John Vettese who will be on the judging panel.